Not Your Grandmother’s Gazebo: Six Stylish Structures For Your Outdoor Space

The most stereotypical gazebos are frilly wood structures: decorated with Victorian style woodwork, painted white, and stuck out in some wide, scenic space, like a sprawling garden or park. But these pretty little gazebos are the stuff of weddings and afternoon teas in English gardens; not so much the average back yard. Not all gazebos are Victorian in style, though. Some of the less conventional gazebo designs are great for adding a distinctive architectural style to your outdoor space…Not to mention a relaxing place to sit.

Stick With A Classic

Traditional white gazebos are great for what they are: very classic, elegant pieces with a distinctly Victorian English style. And if you have the sprawling gardens, trimmed hedges, pebbled pathways, and topiary to back it up, great; a shining white, ornately detailed gazebo might be just what you’re looking for. They’re great for standing out against a dark green backdrop, provide a visual focal point for a large garden, a little shade, and a nice place to take a break along a long walkway. They can help lend an architectural presence to the places farthest away from your home, and even help establish a theme in your landscape.

Or Try A Different Color

Simply changing the color of the gazebo, though, can give it a drastically different appearance. Leaving a white gazebo unpainted and letting the underlying wood show through will help it blend into the background; natural wood will always draw less attention to itself and create a more relaxed, rustic style. That’s perfect for a less manicured garden. Swapping a white finish for a black one gives the gazebo above a much more concrete, urban appearance.

Paint It Black

In fact, black gazebos in particular tend to be modeled after the ornate wrought iron detailing found throughout New Orleans. Rather than an English garden, these evoke sultry urban summers and outdoor cafes. Attached to a back porch or patio (especially one done in brick!), this Iron Garden Passage gazebo perfectly sets the stage for a French Quarter inspired outdoor eating area. As an added bonus, the wide, rectangular design means it works equally well out in a garden or butted right up against the house. You can use it even if you don’t have a large property or a sprawling garden to put it in.

Or Look For Different Styles Entirely

Gazebos with distinctive, unusual designs can be as much a landscaping tool as anything. The loops and coils and domed roof of this Amelie gazebo, for example, have a vaguely arabesque feel to them. Though it’s certainly brought out by the gauzy golden “curtains” woven throughout, this subtly more eastern design guides the eye to see the surrounding landscaping as more exotic. Rather than delicate ruffles and teacups, this type of gazebo evokes plush satin pillows, soft music, and fresh citrus fruit. The design itself is relatively minimalist, but different enough to put a fresh twist on the garden.

Or Go A Little More Old School

Home Gold Travertine Gazebo MAR5-G60-GLD from AFD
Home Gold Travertine Gazebo MAR5-G60-GLD from AFD

Stone gazebos can have an even more dramatic impact on your landscaping; they lend an unmistakable classical Mediterranean air to the space. Unlike their more common wood counterparts, stone gazebos have a lot of weight to them, both figuratively and literally. That means they’ll stay in one place regardless of weather, and impart the sense of something ancient and regal. Even small ones command attention (though larger, domed versions are particularly impressive), which makes them an ideal centerpiece for a large garden. It’s worth noting that stone gazebos can be quite a bit pricier than more common wood or metal. Even so, they can make for an incredible addition to a very luxurious landscape.

Look For Simple Alternatives, Like Pergolas or Arbors

Amiata Pergola Gazebo TP-FST1056 from AFD
Amiata Pergola Gazebo TP-FST1056 from AFD

On the very opposite end of the spectrum, though, are gazebos that are just simple. Rather than lending style to an outdoor space, you can use them to define a sitting area and add shade. Pergola style gazebos are a great example. Though they have their roots in history (and can certainly be used to create an Italian-inspired style, particularly when grown over with vines), they’re a better match for a contemporary style outdoor space than almost any other type of gazebo. They’re simple, squared, and work equally well freestanding or up against a building. Just as important, they aren’t at odds with modern outdoor furniture, which can be a problem with more ornate designs.

Whatever your sense of style, gazebos are a great way to add style and elegance to your garden or patio. If you’re wishing for more shade, a place to sit, or just something to stand out from your space? It might be time for this architectural solution!