Patio cover ideas: 16 stunning designs to keep your outdoor seating space sheltered

On the lookout for patio cover ideas? Our mix of pergolas, gazebos, parasols and more will have you inspired

patio cover ideas: SUNS Lifestyle pergola
(Image credit: SUNS Lifestyle)

The right patio cover ideas can transform a lacklustre stretch of paving, whilst providing all the shelter you need to enjoy your space for longer. And as it turns out, there are tons of gorgeous designs to choose from.

They're not just handy for protecting you and your outdoor furniture from temperamental weather. Patio covers will also help to create a cosier atmosphere, and bring an extra dose of style to a plot. It's no surprise that we think they're a must-have for any of our patio ideas.

Patio covers also help us to make the most of our gardens, all year round. The SUNS Lifestyle team says, 'As we’re spending more time at home than ever before, many of us are reassessing, reviewing and bettering our homes and living spaces.'

Our gardens are becoming important places where we can retreat from our homes, they continue. Here, we can create intimate, sheltered spaces to spend quality time with those that matter the most. 'We are also more mindful of our mental wellbeing and there is a growing awareness of the health benefits of being outside,' they add.

So if all these benefits of patio cover ideas sound tempting, just keep scrolling. From contemporary structures with adjustable roofs to hand-painted parasols and much more, we've got all the inspiration you need.

1. Brighten up a space with a white parasol

patio cover ideas: parasol

This modern space feels bright and welcoming

(Image credit: Nick Pope/Future)

A white-toned parasol adds the perfect finishing touch to this calm and contemporary scene. And, its clever design means the support won't block your view when you're catching up with friends alfresco.

Pair with whitewashed walls, eye-catching furniture and one of our modern paving ideas for a sophisticated vibe.

2. Create a canopy of lights for a romantic look

patio cover ideas: gazebo with fairy lights

Set-up by Lights4Fun

(Image credit: Jake Seal/Lights4Fun)

Using fairy lights en masse is one of the easiest ways to up the ambience of a plot. They'll add a romantic edge to any of your patio cover ideas – just take a look at how they elevate this rustic gazebo, for example. 

The combination of wooden beams and glowy lights results in an atmospheric canopy, providing a lovely spot for evening entertaining. You could opt for festoon lights too, for a more contemporary vibe. Head over to our patio lighting ideas for more inspiration.

3. Go for an ultra-modern adjustable gazebo

patio cover ideas: gazebo from SUNS Lifestyle

(Image credit: SUNS Lifestyle)

If you're after a sturdy shelter for your patio, check out these gorgeous designs. These gazebos from SUNS Lifestyle can be used for a multitude of purposes – for alfresco dining spaces, to cover hot tubs, or to create shaded areas for garden furniture, outdoor kitchen ideas, and outdoor bar areas. 

'These functional and ready-to-use terrace-coverings require no planning permission or hefty construction and can be placed freestanding or as an overhang from your home or garden building,' explains the SUNS Lifestyle team. The flexible louvered roof allows you to enjoy the sunshine when open, and is rainproof when closed, with an innovative drainage system. Adjustable side cassettes are available too, as shown above, which provide extra shelter and privacy.

'The finished effect creates a distinct and contemporary look, and an intimate and modern space that can be enjoyed beyond our homes,' they add. We couldn't agree more.

4. Add pattern and colour for a boho look

patio cover ideas: parasol

(Image credit: East London Parasol Company)

Looking to brighten up a dull patch of paving? Then this patio cover idea could be the one for you. This show-stopping parasol brings tons of glamour and fun with its hand-painted design and opulent hues. We love the tassel details and beading, too.

Surround with billowing borders and add a colourful cushion or two for a vibrant scene with a bohemian vibe. 

We've got plenty more designs in our best garden parasol buying guide.

5. Opt for chic awning for versatility

patio cover ideas: awning from caribbean blinds

(Image credit: Caribbean Blinds)

'If your outside space requires a quick yet effective transformation, retractable patio awnings guarantee instant shade and shelter', says Stuart Dantzic, Managing Director of Caribbean Blinds UK

It's a perfect solution for providing cover when needed, meaning you can make the most of indoor-outdoor living throughout the seasons. 

Opt for neutral hues for an elegant look, or go for funky patterns or bold colours – whichever suits your style best.

6. Go for a prettily-painted corner arbour

patio cover ideas: mini trellis seat

(Image credit: Thorndown Paints)

Are you a little short on space when it comes to your plot? Don't worry, this corner arbour seat is just the ticket. Painted in a gentle yet refreshing green, it makes a lovely feature for a balcony, terrace or courtyard. 

The trellis detail offers all kinds of opportunity to get creative and make it your own. Why not train up some jasmine or roses to surround yourself in their gorgeous fragrance whilst you relax, or hang up lanterns for an atmospheric glow?

Head over to our best exterior paint buying guide and get stocked up for your next painting project.

7. Surround your outdoor dining zone with foliage

patio cover ideas: pergola covered in foliage

Set-up from John Lewis

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Get back to nature with a canopy of lush green foliage. It will add a soothing touch to any outdoor dining space, whilst providing natural shelter from the midday sun. Use sturdy structures such as columns and pergolas to support your plants of choice, then sit back and enjoy the leafy view.

If you're after a bit of extra pizzazz, you could learn how to grow wisteria around your patio cover ideas instead – its elegant trails of flowers are a spectacular sight for all. 

8. Use clean lines for modern plots

patio cover ideas: modern pergola

(Image credit: Caribbean Blinds)

This award-winning louvred roof pergola offers an open-air alfresco feel when left fully open. However, if the weather takes a turn, the roof can be closed, offering a completely water-, wind- and even snow-tight cover, as Stuart Dantzic, Managing Director of Caribbean Blinds UK explains.

It's a fabulous way to create your very own slice of paradise right in your own backyard. Plus, its sleek appearance makes it a perfect addition to our modern garden ideas.

9. Shelter a corner sofa from the sun

patio cover ideas: parasol over corner sofa

(Image credit: BRIDGMAN)

Does your large outdoor sofa need shelter, but you don't want to opt for a permanent structure? Then go for jumbo-sized parasol instead. This adjustable one above adds a touch of luxury and a big dose of versatility, and will look chic in any plot. 

It's a timeless look that'll never go out of style – a wonderful accompaniment to rattan furniture.

Head over to our outdoor seating ideas for more stunning designs.

10. Go for a modern mix of materials

patio cover ideas: garden house design modern build

Maluwi canopy by Garden House Design

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

If you've got the space and the budget and are looking to go big when it comes to your patio cover ideas, then check out this idea. 

The durable aluminium structure makes a bold impact, and is clad in water-resistant panels. And you don't need to worry about keeping things cosy – both heating and lighting can be added to the build. It's a brilliant way to create an outdoor 'room' that can be used as an extension to the house all year.

11. Light up the scene from your parasol

patio cover ideas: cover with hanging lights

(Image credit: Ella James)

If you're set on a parasol as your patio cover of choice, then this is an easy way to give it an extra lift come nightfall.

By hanging decorative pendants beneath it, you'll cast a gorgeous glow around your evening set-up. Plus, by opting for solar varieties, you won't need to worry about extra wires, or finding a plug.

Add one or two of the best outdoor rugs and you'll have a cosy outdoor living space in no time.

12. Provide shelter with slatted sides

patio cover ideas: modern gazebo

(Image credit: SUNS Lifestyle)

We love the slatted side panels on this impressive design. They allow a summer's breeze to gently circulate your seating area whilst looking super stylish.

Of course, they're great for adding a touch more privacy too. And, due to their nifty design, they can be removed easily from the rest of the structure when not required.

Looking for more ways to make your plot feel more private? Our garden privacy ideas has you covered.

13. Try a stylishly scalloped design

patio cover ideas: patterned parasol

(Image credit: East London Parasol Company)

The waterproof canvas of this octagonal parasol is printed in a beautiful William Morris print. Meanwhile, the scalloped edges add a lovely finishing touch. 

It's the perfect summery focal point for any patio – we simply adore it.

14. Choose sturdy materials

outdoor dining area underneath a gazebo with curtains

(Image credit: Wickes)

The best gazebos are the ones that allow you to bring your outdoor living space ideas to life, come rain or shine. Go for strong, durable materials to ensure the structure can withstand wind and rain during autumn and winter, as well as provide plenty of shade in summer. 

If you want to leave it up all year, it's a good idea to look out for designs that come with sturdy ground anchors to keep it firmly fixed to the ground. After all, no one wants to see their gazebo take flight during windy weather.

We love the curtain details on this design – great for an extra boost of privacy.

15. Keep the chef dry with a mini gazebo

BBQ area underneath a small gazebo

Rowlinson Roma BBQ gazebo from Cuckooland

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Adding a small gazebo to your patio is ideal for creating a sheltered area for your best BBQ. That way, even if there's an unexpected rain shower the head chef can stay dry. No one wants to huddle underneath an umbrella whilst trying to grill burgers!

Need somewhere for your snacks? Look out for designs with bar tables on each side to give you plenty of space to keep your sauces, snacks, and drinks close at hand.

16. Cover your dining set-up

gazebo attached to the house to create a sheltered dining spot

Rowlinson canopy from Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

If you want to create sheltered outdoor dining ideas next to the house, choose a design that can be attached to the wall with secure fixings. With its elegant detailing, this sleek canopy would suit both modern and traditional homes. 

The whole structure is secured to the wall with fixing bolts and it's height adjustable, too. Meanwhile, the showerproof canopy is retractable, so you can pull it back to fully enjoy the sunshine during the summer months. 

The canopy can also be removed from the frame entirely, so you can store it away over winter if necessary. 

Which is the best patio cover idea for your plot?

patio cover ideas: pergola over paving

Garden designed by Raine Garden Design

(Image credit: Ross Philips/Forest Eyes Photography)

The best patio cover for your plot depends on a multitude of factors. These include the size and budget you have available, plus your own personal taste.

Large structures such as the one above make fabulous choices for bigger areas and create a permanent outdoor 'room' to be used whatever the weather. Of course, they're not often cheap, but they're made to last, and can transform how you use your garden.

However, a smaller solution such as a parasol has many benefits too. As the team at East London Parasol Company says, their designs are a low-commitment and minimal-effort solution, yet make a maximum style statement.

'You can be bold with a vast array of colours, which adds a pop of vibrancy to any outdoor space,' they add. 

What should you consider when choosing a patio awning?

If you're opting for awning to cover your patio, London-based surveyor Frank Evans from Roché Systems has some advice on what to consider.

Colour or patterned designs tend to spring to mind when choosing an awning cover, he says, but the type of material is equally important.

Our covers are made from a treated polyester fabric which is much stronger and more environmentally friendly than some alternatives, he says. The main difference with our fabrics is the nano coating applied during manufacturing, Frank continues. This helps to create a self-cleaning effect which helps it retain its appearance.

Frank also suggests to consider how much brightness you want for your space, as thinner weaves can allow more light through, whereas others are much thicker and block out light.