The Pergola: From Ancient Greece, With Love

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Home Designing

Pergola: From Latin meaning projecting eve.

The first known use of the word pergola in the English language was in 1654 but in Italy and France, this garden structure was quite popular in the 15th and 16th centuries. By the 18th and early 19th centuries, the concept fell out of favor as a more naturalistic style of gardening was in vogue. But, by the late 19th century, the pergola as a garden structure made a comeback.

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next to nature landscape

Technically, a pergola is a structure that is attached to, and projects from, another structure. Apparently, the two free-standing varieties I have in my yard are not “officially” pergolas. In today’s parlance, however, the term is commonly used to refer to a free-standing structure that features the same architectural features as one that is attached.

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John Malick and Associates

The hallmark attribute of the pergola is a rectangular shaped structure that features a series of wooden beams held up by columns. Originally constructed of stone or brick, wooden posts are often substituted for the masonry. In fact, today’s pergolas may be constructed of any number of building materials, including wood, vinyl, fiberglass, metal, or pvc.

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Design Rules
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House Beautiful

The material selected for constructing the pergola will contribute to successfully marrying the architecture of the home to the pergola structure. Whether one’s home is considered traditional or contemporary, French or English, or elegant or rustic, the quaint pergola can have a big impact. Providing shade, architectural interest, and generally indicating an outdoor area in which to relax, the pergola can make the most stand-offish homes have an air of approachability.

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Chadsworth Columns

The beams that serve as the ceiling of the pergola are generally open, allowing light and rain through.

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Richard Felber/Sanchez and Maddux Landscape and Architecture

Often planted with climbing vines, the posts and beams of a pergola provide a handy trellis for growing upright and far-reaching plants.

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Better Homes and Gardens

A free-standing pergola that is open on the sides can be placed in the yard as a way to transition from one garden room to another.

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the Decoist

A larger pergola may serve as an outdoor room, complete with furniture and accessories.

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Stelle Lomont Roohani Architects

Those that are attached to and project from a larger structure, are often used to create interest integral to the design of the building.

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the Decoist

There is a familiarity and fondness for the pergola. Adding one to your home can be as simple as purchasing a pre-fabricated kit, or as complex as having a professional custom design and build one for you. For the do-it-yourselfer, creating and building your own bespoke pergola can be a rewarding project that the whole family can enjoy.

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