Patio umbrella ideas: 10 stylish looks for creating shade in the summer
Create a summer-ready outdoor space with these smart patio umbrella ideas - there's one to suit every backyard
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If you're looking for patio umbrella ideas to add a stylish touch to your outdoor space, there are plenty of designs, sizes and colors to choose from to suit your backyard. As much as we love the sunshine, a garden parasol is an outdoor essential for UV protection so make sure you've got your seating and dining set-ups covered.
Oversized cantilever patio umbrellas will add a relaxed look to your deck or patio, while an overhanging banana umbrella is good for pools and hot tubs. And with a decorative statement parasol, you can quickly create an on-trend focal point as part of your patio furniture ideas.
If space is tight, wall-hung or half parasols are a great idea for a courtyard garden, terrace or balcony. And light portable parasols are perfect if you like to chase the sun or shade round the garden.
10 patio umbrella ideas for instant summer shade
Patio umbrella ideas are a key part of the look for outdoor living spaces, so when choosing the best garden parasol for your patio, it pays to invest in a piece that adds quality and style to your alfresco set-up. 'We've seen a real shift in customers seeking high-quality, statement pieces,' says Jonathon Warren, commercial director at global interior platform LuxDeco. (opens in new tab)
Here are 10 new looks to switch up your shade ideas in style and bring your parasol offering bang up to date this summer.
1. Co-ordinate your parasol with your deck
Choose a parasol that fits harmoniously with the rest of your deck furniture ideas and links through with your interior style too so when you catch a glimpse of it out of the window it doesn't jar by being the wrong color or too garish.
'Our gardens have become multi-functional spaces, from a sunny spot to work from home outdoors, to evening entertainment spaces and everything in between,' says Lucy Mather of lifestyle and interiors store Arighi Bianchi (opens in new tab). 'As such a parasol is a must-have investment piece for any outdoor space but the key is to choose one which is fit for purpose and will last a number of seasons, not just one summer.'
Spending a little bit more on a parasol with added features and functionality – such as in-built lighting and a 360 degree rotating feature will mean that you can use it from morning through to night and get the most from your investment.
2. Choose a parasol with built-in lights for evenings
The latest parasol designs come with an integrated wireless glow that's perfect for lighting up warm summer evenings. The lighting with styles like this one is integrated into the ribs of the patio umbrella and can be directed to shine both upwards and downwards. It's super easy to use too.
If you like the idea of throwing some more light on your night time garden table ideas, especially if you hosting a special get-together, you can also drape festoon or fairy lights through the frame of the parasol as another way of adding a soft and pretty glow that switches up your patio umbrella for daytime to nighttime use.
3. Opt for a central style
The traditional style of parasol that slots through a table set-up is a great addition to your outdoor dining ideas as it will shield you from the sun when you most need it.
The higher the density of the fabric, the better the quality and protection against UV rays. In terms of material, acrylic offers superior quality and stays cooler. It's stain-resistant, water-repellent, oil-repellent, mold-resistant and the color tend to resist fading. Polyester is the more affordable option. It's usually waterproof but dark colors tend to fade, so remember to fold away your parasol when it's not in use.
When picking a base for your parasol bear in mind that the diameter of the base must be large enough to be able to support the weight of the parasol and its weight must be sufficient to counterbalance the parasol while open. This is important whatever parasol you're choosing but especially when it's sitting through the middle of a table laid for an alfresco lunch.
4. Save space with a half canopy patio umbrella
If you have a balcony garden you'll be looking for options that are big on style but don't take up a lot of room. Half-parasols are one of the best patio umbrella ideas for smaller gardens, patios and balconies where you can't fit a full-sized model.
It’s the most convenient type of parasol to choose if space is precious. The flat back sits flush against a wall or fence, making the most of your space, whilst providing cooling shade for a table and chairs or streamlined garden bench beneath the canopy.
This style of parasol is perfect for small social gatherings too as they don't have a pole in the middle that will stand in the way of your conversations.
5. Try a Bridgerton-style floral fancy
When it comes to new patio umbrella ideas it's okay to like patterns, pink and polka dots. Smart plain gray and cream are all very well but occasionally you might feel the urge to try something a little more whimsical with tassels and all the trimmings.
'Parasol styles this season are all about the Regency look. Expect pretty pastels, Bridgerton blues and new takes on traditional textiles,' says Lucy Ferguson, founder of the East London Parasol Company (opens in new tab). If you love this look you'll be needing some equally on-trend outdoor table decorating ideas to complete your look!
Pastel tones and candy stripes are summery classics that are easy to style and can work well with colorful garden furniture ideas too.
6. Go for a freestanding parasol but make it special
As our gardens are now seen as an extension of our interiors it's no surprise that when it comes to garden furniture and outdoor seating ideas we are getting more picky, even when it comes to choosing parasols. They may serve an essential purpose but they can be so much more than a mere practicality.
'A battered garden umbrella that has seen better days no longer cuts it,' says Brendon Haxby, founder of independent interiors retailer Naken (opens in new tab). 'This summer we’re seeing a lot more parasols that are in line with interior styles. So expect a more maximalist approach, parasols that are a little extra. Think, tassels, more considered curves and a range of finishes that will complement existing garden furnishings.'
7. Pick a cantilever design for maximum shade
As well as looking super-stylish, cantilever patio umbrella ideas allow you to stretch the parasol away from its stand, over the area of your choice, which means more space to move around underneath. As shown above, cantilever parasols are designed to hang over your outdoor sofa ideas without getting in the way.
They use their own unique weighted base which are far heavier than usual parasol bases but they can also be screwed into decking or leaned against a wall.
'Cantilever parasols are the most versatile type of parasol available,' says Dave Dryden, Christow (opens in new tab) home and garden guru. 'With a normal parasol, the pole in the middle restricts your space. Cantilevers have an offset base, so there’s no pole in the middle. Basically, you can utilize all the space beneath it.'
In addition, the canopy is usually bigger than a normal parasol to give you greater coverage. They’re the perfect design for shading furniture sets, sun loungers, paddling pools and can even be used as hot tub shelters too.
8. Save space with a wall-hung patio umbrella
One of our top tips for choosing outdoor furniture is to consider the space you have available for your new purchases. In small gardens, wall-mounted patio umbrella ideas are super practical. No base is required and the parasol can be attached to any wall so you don’t need to worry about it falling over or getting carried away by the wind.
They do not take up a lot of room, and can be folded away next to the wall when not in use. Wall-mounted parasols are very resilient too, which means they stay where they're put. They can also be easily rotated in any direction you want. You can also get specially designed balcony parasols which can be fixed to the floor and ceiling using a suction-held bar.
'Choosing the right garden parasol can transform the garden in summer,' says Kettler (opens in new tab) expert Richard Searle. 'For both comfort and sun safety, it’s vital to consider creating a shaded outdoor area to provide relief from the sun’s rays. Investing in the right parasol will allow a serene space for alfresco meals or afternoon drinks. It will add to the overall aesthetic of your garden too.'
9. Keep it simple and timeless
A cream- or stone-colored parasol is a timeless classic that works with every garden color scheme. 'With regards to color this summer, we expect to see soft tones that evoke comfort, nature and warmth such as cream, gray, terracotta and stone,' says Rikke Blaeside, design manager at JYSK (opens in new tab). 'Personality can be added with muted tones of reds, blues and yellows for a timeless aesthetic.'
The only downside with light colors like cream and stone is that they show every mark so make sure you keep on top of things by finding out how to clean garden furniture and looking after paler colored umbrellas with the right parasol care.
10. Double up the shade with two umbrellas
Layer up your parasol ideas when you're entertaining and need to switch around the configuration to suit the occasion. Choose freestanding patio umbrellas so you can easily add a second or third one for flexible shade options that can easily be moved around.
Choosing matching parasols adds a pretty aesthetic too, particularly if you arrange them symmetrically, becoming an eye-catching focal point in their own right.
What is the best color for a patio umbrella?
When choosing the best color for a parasol several practical things need to be taken into consideration. A quality parasol is an investment item for your patio, and the color should reflect that. Think how well a color is likely to hold up in your particular environment, for example if you have lots of trees that will shed leaves and other debris on it. Also consider how well the color will complement the rest of your garden design ideas and link with your interior look too.
Fabrics are available in a variety of shades ranging from earthy naturals to vibrant primary colors. Terracotta, cream, stone and beige tend to be the go-to choices and for good reason as they look crisp and fresh. But they can quickly begin to look grubby if you don't care for them properly.
It's worth bearing in mind that darker colors tend to fade over time. That means while a beautiful navy might look great on your patio this season, you'll need a replacement a lot sooner than you’d bargained for.
Black goes with everything and can also cool you down and protect you from harsh UV rays better than any other color. Black objects absorb more solar heat than white ones because they absorb more light energy.
Ultimately, picking the best color for your parasol comes down to preference and of course co-ordinating it with the rest of your garden decor for a seamless look.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design, she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own space where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.
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