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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 made in this style, though, and some of the less conventional designs are great for adding a distinctive architectural style to your outdoor space – not to mention a relaxing place to sit.

Turnberry Hexangular Gazebo GF-UPG2001-12-12-6 from AFD
Turnberry Hexangular Gazebo GF-UPG2001-12-12-6 from AFD

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.

Fiesta Hexangular Gazebo GF-UPG2002-12-12-6 from AFD
Fiesta Hexangular Gazebo GF-UPG2002-12-12-6 from AFD

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, drawing less attention to itself and creating a more relaxed, rustic style, which works well with a less manicured garden. Swapping a white finish for a black one gives the gazebo above (which is almost identical to the first one in terms of design) a much more concrete, urban appearance.

Iron Garden Passage Gazebo CI3-ARTS050Z019 from AFD
Iron Garden Passage Gazebo CI3-ARTS050Z019 from AFD

In fact, black gazebos are often specifically modeled after the ornate wrought iron detailing found throughout New Orleans, and are better suited to cafe tables, hanging flower pots, vines, and lazy, drooping trees. 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, so it can be used even if you don’t have a large property or a sprawling garden to put it in.

Amelie Gazebo FZ397 from Toscano
Amelie Gazebo FZ397 from Toscano

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 – though the design itself is ultimately fairly minimalist.

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, lending 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, and impart the sense of something ancient and regal. Even relatively small ones command attention (though larger, domed versions are particularly impressive), which makes them ideal for use as a centerpiece for a large garden. It’s worth noting that stone gazebos can be quite a bit pricier than more common wood or metal, but even so they can make for an incredible addition to a very luxurious landscape.

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 any particular style to an outdoor space, they’re meant more to be used to define a sitting area or sometimes 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, and aren’t stylistically at odds with modern outdoor furniture, which can be something of a problem with more ornate designs.

But what are you looking for in a gazebo? Do you like a traditional style, are you looking to make a statement, or just for something to flesh out a large outdoor space? Let me know in the comments below!