Designing a gazebo idea into your garden is a lovely thing. It creates a secluded area that can be styled to match your interior aesthetic and means you get an extra room too. It also provides shade and shelter, as well as creating a structure for plants to climb over to extend your planting options.
In more modern spaces, gazebos can be left unplanted and will add an architectural element to your garden that makes a striking focal point. They can also provide a sympathetic architectural link to your interior living space if you choose the right style, so it looks more like an extension of your home.
When it comes to designing your backyard ideas, a large gazebo in a small garden will play tricks with the space, making it seem much bigger than it really is. Utilize the extra space for whatever best suits your purposes, whether that's dining, relaxing or partying. A gazebo can be used for anything from morning coffee, afternoon tea and cocktails to Pilates, meditation or napping on a lounger.
Here are some of our favorite gazebo ideas to introduce to your modern garden design plans that will really help you make the most of your space.
10 gazebo ideas to give this garden essential a modern twist
1. Include a gazebo in your outdoor kitchen set-up
Everyone wants an outdoor kitchen. The trend is huge this summer, generating a buzz across all social media platforms, with 71.7 million views on TikTok and 2,180,000 on Google alone, according to the latest research (opens in new tab). Add a gazebo to your outdoor kitchen ideas and it lets you switch it up into more of a year-round space.
Chances are you'll use it most at night so you'll need good lighting. 'There are lots of stylish outdoor lighting options available for gazebos and a good starting point is to consider what the gazebo will be used for,' says Industville (opens in new tab) MD Marketa Rypacek. 'If possible, have the lights controlled independently, so you can switch on only the ones you want to create the desired mood.'
If you're using the space for entertaining, you'll need good lighting. 'Pendants hung singly or in clusters in the center of the space will create a very homely look, as well as being a statement to draw the eye,' says Marketa. 'This works well if your gazebo has a central table.'
2. Choose the right gazebo for your space
The soft contours and mellow hues of a timber gazebo are a timeless classic that never dates. This style slots seamlessly into both modern and more traditional garden designs to become a real focal point in your outdoor space.
Good choices of wood for your gazebo ideas include cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated pine. If you want to go luxe consider something like a bespoke oak frame gazebo with enhancements such as cladding or balustrades for a high-end look.
If you prefer a starker more modern look for your gazebo ideas, choose a budget-friendly wooden style and paint it in an on-trend color for a contemporary take on the look. Black and grey always look good in urban spaces.
For a cohesive look, ensure your gazebo matches in with your backyard deck.
3. Go for light and floaty if you're hosting
With its elegant silhouette and sheer fabric, this dreamy pop-up gazebo will anchor an entertaining space where guests can enjoy some shade and seclusion, acting as a garden room. As party tents go it's pretty special and can be gussied up with cushions and lanterns for a more boho look if you want.
'Get creative when setting up your outside space before a party by creating zones and areas for different elements and moments,' says Ginger Ray (opens in new tab)'s Jess Martin. 'It’s a great way to make things feel more intimate. If you have the space, a gazebo can act as another room or bar. It's also a great blank canvas to decorate with garlands, bunting, balloons - the possibilities are endless.'
If you're hosting lots of guests consider adding a couple more pop-up gazebos to your garden. If you already have a fixed gazebo with open sides an alternative is to use mosquito netting as side panels. It's widely available, affordable, looks the part and will shield your guests from flying bugs.
4. Add a few grand touches to your gazebo styling
If you love tablescaping and dressing up your space for special occasions a gazebo is the perfect opportunity to get creative. Once the basic table and chairs are in place move on to choosing the accessories, such as the garden lighting ideas.
Vintage-style chandeliers with crystal drops can be hung from the roof of your gazebo to switch up an alfresco dinner and create a sense of occasion. If you're planning to install a chandelier in your gazebo that's wired into an electrical supply make sure you buy one that is suitable. Choose a chandelier made of weather-resistant material, and safety approved for outdoor use.
Luxe up your gazebo ideas with an opulent tablecloth and a living centerpiece. Loose arrangements of flowers and foliage in big vases look lovely for an alfresco garden table setting, but plants also work well as the focal point. 'I love to use big ceramic vases with oversized foliage or flower arrangements,' says interior designer Sophie Patterson (opens in new tab). 'Sometimes if I don’t have time to buy flowers I cut a few branches of foliage from the garden. Greenery adds so much life to any space, indoors or out.'
5. Turn your gazebo into a destination
A gazebo has many uses when you’re entertaining in the garden especially when it comes to upgrading your space. Create a ‘bespoke’ zone by positioning a gazebo away from your house and turning it into a place where you and your guests can retreat to.
Style it up for serving cocktails as the sun goes down or as a place to chat on sofas after lazy alfresco lunches. Make sure it feels separate from your alfresco dining space to add that sense of a destination. However you decide to use it, a gazebo lets you extend your space for socializing as an outdoor living room.
'My advice would be to style your gazebo as you would any room indoors, considering seating and lighting before layering up colors, textures and patterns using rugs, cushions and accessories,' says Claire Hornby, head of creative at Barker and Stonehouse (opens in new tab).
'Consider too how you might move from day to night with a selection of soft furnishings as part of your gazebo ideas that will add character during the day, and warmth come night.'
6. Style up your gazebo for night time celebrations
Gazebos make a great backyard retreat at any time of day but they really come into their own at night when dressed with festoon lights and candles. This helps to create an evening space for a special dinner or other celebration that really feels like an outdoor room.
When the lights are switched on at dusk gazebos look especially welcoming and it's time for them to take center stage in the night-time garden. The freestanding, open structure is ideal for hanging outdoor lights especially if supported by pillars or columns as this is the perfect canvas to show off lighting ideas.
'String lighting threaded delicately across the roof of the gazebo can be combined with a selection of candle holders and lanterns to add a beautiful ambiance when the sun goes down,' says Claire Hornby.
7. Consider black paint to add some drama
Wooden gazebos are compact and can be slotted into any space so work well in small-town gardens. This ebony one looks particularly handsome on a slightly elevated deck bordered by clipped topiary. Wicker chairs invite you to relax. It's the perfect shaded spot for afternoon tea or sundowners.
It's important to keep your gazebo looking good. 'Gazebos tend to be fiddly to decorate, and can be neglected over time,' says Sean Thompson, technical consultant for Sadolin (opens in new tab). If you're considering the best exterior paint to makeover for an existing gazebo, preparation is everything. 'This is where the amount of effort you put in pays dividends, as you're preparing the surface to be as clean as possible for any new coating to perform,' says Sean.
If the structure has been previously decorated and is in good order the preparation is easier. A simple wash with a mild detergent in warm water using a stiff nylon brush should do it. Rinse off with clean water and allow to dry. Then comes the fun part - choosing the paint shade.
8. Make a small space seem bigger with a gazebo
Make a small garden feel bigger by treating it as an extension of your home and adding a gazebo that has the feel of an outdoor room. Accessible and interlinked ‘zones’ mean you can successfully create the perfect indoor/outdoor living space that will make the garden feel bigger.
'Opting for a gazebo with a retracting or rotating louvered roof is ideal for a small garden as it makes the space multifunctional,' says Stuart Dantzic, MD of Caribbean Blinds (opens in new tab). 'It can be left open throughout the warmer months and fully closed in winter. The addition of side screens, LED lighting and infra-red heating will allow you to make the most of your indoor/outdoor living space at all times of the day (or night) and in any weather.'
If you already have a gazebo that needs a re-vamp, think about adding high-performance external blinds that can be mounted to the top and sides to shield from the elements and create a cozy and pleasant environment all year round.
9. Use a gazebo to enhance a snug space
If you have a small garden or one on a split level, particularly one with steps leading down to a lower deck, you can use a gazebo to create a snug. This colorful design by Catherine MacDonald for Landform (opens in new tab) is all about interpreting how best to use the space you have in a modern way. This gazebo covers a sunken garden area to create a tranquil spot that feels very contemporary.
The color palette of earthy rust shades adds to the feeling of warmth and containment. The burnished tones of the sail shade are picked up in the naturalistic planting of mellow grasses mingling with orange flowers.
It's a great example of how to slot gazebo ideas seamlessly into a garden space, with the color of the gazebo frame echoing that of the fence, and the sail picking up the color palette of the planting in a harmonious mix.
10. Create a dedicated dining space with a gazebo
One of our favorite gazebo ideas is to create a deluxe alfresco dining room. Choose a style of gazebo with flexible shutters on the roof and side screens. That way you can use it year-round to make the most of your gazebo.
If you're planning on using your gazebo a lot in the evening get the lighting right from the get-go with good planning. 'Lighting your garden structure will allow you to make the most of your outdoor space at night,' says Reilly Gray of SUNS Lifestyle (opens in new tab). 'Just like in your interiors, aim to create a layered lighting scheme.'
This will help create an ambiance while ensuring there's enough lighting for socializing. 'Freestanding lamps and lanterns that are solar-powered and rechargeable are great as they can be moved around easily, offering flexibility and the option of directional lighting,' adds Reilly. Overhanging floor lamps add a real design element too.
What's the difference between a pergola and a gazebo?
The terms pergola and gazebo are often used interchangeably but there are a few key differences that set them apart. Unlike a summer house or garden studio, both pergolas and gazebos are open or semi-open, depending on each individual design.
A gazebo is a freestanding garden structure, often with a domed rounded shape that’s sometimes hexagonal or octagonal. Gazebos, unlike pergolas, have a closed roof. Most gazebos are raised off the ground and rounded, while pergolas tend to be rectangular and connected to a hard ground surface like a patio.
Many gazebo ideas feature a roof that’s supported by pillars or columns. There are also temporary pop-up gazebo structures that provide useful shelter from the elements in the garden as well as being good for parties.
Most are constructed of wood or metal, and some come with built-in seating inside. They have fully open or semi-open sides. To make them feel more private, trellis panels can be added or outdoor drapes.
A pergola is a freestanding open structure that's traditionally rectangular or square in shape, made with vertical posts and horizontal beams that form an overhead canopy. They are used to cover walkways, provide shelter for seating areas and as a frame for climbing plants.
Some are connected to form a tunnel over a pathway. Pergola roofs are usually open but can be covered, in which case they are often referred to as a pavilion.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Her first job on glossy magazines was at Elle, during which time a visit to the legendary La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul-de-Vence led to an interest in all things gardening. Later as lifestyle editor at Country Homes & Interiors magazine the real pull was the run of captivating country gardens that were featured. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own garden where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.
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