These 12 Patio Umbrellas are the Best-Looking Backyard Accessories Right Now, Says a Style Editor

I've scoured the internet to find fashion-forward patio umbrellas that won't break the bank. Here are 12 stylish options to keep you feeling — and looking — cool this summer

best outdoor patio umbrellas
(Image credit: Wayfair; Design Within Reach; Serena & Lily;)

Tanning, to me, is a bit of a sport. On vacation, it's my full-time job. But as much as I love basking in the sun outdoors, nobody enjoys overheating or, even worse — skin damage. Yes, summers can be brutal. Of course, that won't deter us from going outside, but we can certainly take measures to ensure our experience is as cool and comfortable as possible.

When it comes to outdoor furniture options for shade, patio umbrellas stand out as a fan favorite. According to Brad Holley, design director at Pure Design, ‘Umbrellas can be an important part of an outdoor living area. Not only because they can be versatile, but because fixed/attached shade structures and awnings can be very expensive.’ And let's not forget how cumbersome those options are to move around. ‘Umbrellas aren't the only way to get enough shade in your backyard living space, but they're one of the most flexible,’ muses Rafi Friedman, President of Coastal Luxury Outdoors. Unlike larger, more expensive shading options, umbrellas offer the convenience of easy mobility as the sun shifts or to accommodate guests.

Setting logistics aside, if I have one strength, it's style. It's the reason why I shop pretty things for a living. And patio umbrellas, with their naturally graceful shape and wide-open canvas for color, pattern, or texture, are a definitive outdoor favorite. Done right, a patio umbrella is the ultimate accessory for a backyard, adding a pop of interest to spaces you might otherwise overlook. Patio umbrellas exude a resort-like elegance and, delightfully, are one of the easiest backyard items to set up. Take it from me, a challenged individual in the 'build it yourself' arena: if I can install a patio umbrella, so can you.

Beautiful, affordable, and easy-going, this is your sign to invest. I've done my homework and scouted only the crème de la crème of umbrellas. Sourced from the best outdoor furniture brands, prepare to dream up images of Palm Beach and the California coast — serving up the only shade you'll actually want this summer.

Best Patio Umbrellas

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What style of patio umbrella should I choose?

Choosing the right style of patio umbrella largely depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle. Consider the size of your backyard and how often you entertain guests. Do you need to shade a large group of people, or is it usually just you and a partner? Also, think about whether you prefer the flexibility to move your umbrella around.

Brad Holley suggests considering a dual-umbrella setup with swinging arms if it fits your budget. This allows you to maximize shade and adjust the umbrellas as the sunlight changes throughout the day. ‘Not to mention, it absolutely gives you the resort-like vibes that you typically enjoy at your favorite all-inclusive resort.'

Though, his personal favorite is a cantilevered setup, which is also a popular choice I’ve noticed among outdoor experts. But what exactly is a cantilever umbrella? According to Brad, it means ‘that the base of the umbrella is off to the side and out of your way, and a large arm (with the umbrella attached) hangs over your furnished space, giving you much more freedom and flexibility when it comes to arranging all of your furniture pieces (and your people).’ 

Where should I put my patio umbrella?

Regarding placement, Rafi recommends situating the umbrella to the south or west of your main gathering space, as this is where the sun typically comes from. Though, if you want to be more strategic, Brad advises conducting a shade study to observe where shadows fall throughout the day.

'What direction are the shadows falling at noon, at 2pm, at 5pm and beyond?’ he asks. ‘If you know this then you can determine several spots to install umbrella sleeves so that you can pick up your shade umbrellas and move them to new anchor points as the day progresses and the sunlight shifts,’ explains the design director. 

What are the cons of a patio umbrella?

As great as patio umbrellas may be, they do come with some downsides. Brad points out that their occasionally heavy bases, often made of coated steel or filled with sand, can be cumbersome and unsightly. To address this issue, he suggests using umbrellas that can be placed into sleeves in the ground. While this requires extra work and planning, 'it can pay off in shady dividends later if you're up for it.’ 

Style your new umbrella with a pick of the best patio furniture

Style Editor

Formerly covering fashion at L’Officiel USA, style maven Julia Demer brings her love of design to Livingetc’s world of interiors. As the title’s Style Editor, Julia's work reflects a sharp eye for detail and an innate passion for aesthetics. Her journey began with a strong foundation in design, honing her craft at renowned establishments like The Row and even establishing her own eponymous fashion brand. Julia’s design background is evident in the way she thoughtfully curates shopping edits, always maintaining a focus on emerging trends while preserving timeless sensibilities. For Julia, fashion and interiors go hand in hand, reflecting her lifelong commitment to perfecting the art of style.