The warmer weather can never come soon enough in Calgary. The moment that the leaves start to come in gets everyone thinking about spending more time outside. The daytime heat quickly turns into warmer evenings which means it’s time to work out how to use your outdoor entertaining space after the sun has set.
Light up the night
Your pergola makes for a perfect setting for dining or just lounging long into the summer nights. The open space keeps the breeze going, while the wooden posts create a dedicated space to play with. Whether your pergola area is set up as an outdoor dining experience or an intimate outside living room, you’ll want to maximize the time you spend under your pergola. However, you’ll want to think about how to keep the area lit in a way that creates the right atmosphere. The string lights (both battery powered and grid connected) are almost clichéd, even though they will give you a classic look. If your pergola sports this look, it may be time to look at some other lighting options for your dreamy pergola nights:
- Fire pit – installing a fire pit serves a dual purpose of providing light and heat to your pergola party. There are so many fire pit options for your pergola that you will be sure to be unique. For a more informal, campfire feel, choose a shallow dish shape pit that sits in the middle of your space, while a taller chimney will feel like a fireplace and will lend a certain elegance to your gatherings.
- Paper lanterns – plain white lanterns are a classic pergola look, but you should move beyond the normal look by hanging them at different heights. This will cast different shadows and light intensities, and you can even change the length each day so your pergola feels like a new space every night. You can also add your own touch by buying different coloured lanterns; this will allow you to create a colour palate for your outdoor entertaining area.
- Suspended candles – there’s something incredibly romantic about the flickering light cast by a dozen candles, but even if you’re not setting the mood for love, suspended candles give a gentle, soft light to your pergola. If you get bugged by bugs, try putting citronella scented candles in the holders, while a floral scent provides relaxation for you and your guests. Be careful with the positioning and holders as the last thing you want is hot wax spoiling the look of your pergola.
- Built in fixtures – if you’re looking to really upgrade your pergola nights experience, consider installing recessed built in light fixtures into the very post and beams of your outdoor structure. This allows you multiple lighting levels, and many people choose to have lights at both the top and bottom of the pergola posts to create different levels. You will need to run wires out to your pergola to make this happen, which makes it a popular option for deck pergolas.
Whatever you choose for your lighting option for your pergola, you need to think about how you will suspend or install the features. Given the working height of most pergolas is around 2.5 meters, you only have a small amount of headroom to play with before people start knocking your light fixtures over. Try using the posts as well as the beams as supports to keep the lights shining on your party.
Keep it comfortable
Once you’ve got your pergola lighting in good shape, it’s time to think about keeping your guests comfortable so that the pergola party goes on as long as the evenings stay warm. Some simple ideas to stretch out your pergola nights include:
- Soft furnishings and built in storage – unless you have seriously comfy outdoor furniture under your pergola, you’ll want to make sure that you have a ready supply of cushions and blankets for your guests. However, these soft furnishings can easily look out of place and create a busy vibe to a space that should be all about comfort and relaxation. This is when you’ll want to find a way of including some built in storage that fits in with your overall pergola decor. For example, a hollow ottoman provides both a footrest and a space to store your soft furnishings, while a simple wicker hamper can be tucked away between chairs and doubles up as an end table.
- A warm drinks bar – if you haven’t worked out a way to run electricity out to your pergola area, the promise of coffee or hot chocolate under the stars will make you rethink. Whether you choose a standard automatic coffee pod maker or a full on electric stove with kettles and French press coffee devices, a warm drinks bar will keep you and your guests out under your pergola after dinner and into the night. You can extend the luxury with a variety of snacks to go with the drinks and be sure to invest in a high set of matching cups and saucers to complete the experience.
- The right tunes – no pergola night is complete without a good soundtrack, but having the right sound system is also a key part of the set up. Technology has come a long way in recent years, and a set of surround sound Bluetooth enabled speakers will not break the bank. For additional style, you can find speakers that are shaped like old fashioned jukeboxes or radios, so it’s worth doing some research to find the right speakers for your pergola theme. Finally, you may find that you need a wifi booster so that you can stream directly from your device; this has the double bonus of providing your guests with a more solid connection too.
All of these additions to your pergola area require some thoughtful planning. If you approach it piecemeal, it can make your pergola look disorganized and disjointed. However, now is the right time to prepare your summer pergola nights by designing and researching. There will be nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your winter preparations become a summer reality under your pergola.