Sometimes it’s astonishing how adding one piece to an outdoor living space can transform it into a magically-inviting getaway spot. This big, beefy shade pergola and fire pit combination is just such a project in Leander, TX.
Breaking news! Archadeck of Austin just learned that we won an Archadeck Design Excellence Award for this project.
The first thing you’ll notice in the “Before” image is how this pool and hot tub setting seemed so “out in the open.” Uncovered. Unprotected. Without the slightest hope of shade.
The homeowners wanted to add a pergola for shade over their hot tub and the adjacent seating area. For additional comfort, they wanted a way to hang a ceiling fan safely in this space. A pergola provides the perfect place for a ceiling fan because we can run electrical wiring through it inconspicuously. Finally, they wanted to add a gas-burning fire pit next to the seating area for outdoor entertaining and poolside ambiance after dark.
This Leander TX Pergola Performs!
The cedar pergola we designed for this space fulfills the functions our clients desired—and more. The family now has reliable shade over the hot tub along with breezes-on-demand over the seating area. More than that, the scale of this pergola makes a statement. It adds depth and dimension to this outdoor living area, and the message it communicates is this: “Here. This is where you want to be. Right here.”
We call this a shade pergola to make a distinction because not all pergolas provide shade. Some pergolas are ornamental; some provide a bit of shade. These clients wanted solid, reliable shade. Now, it just so happens that at the time of day when these photos were taken, the hot tub is not shaded. You’ll have to take our word for it that this pergola provides ample shade at the appropriate time of day.
When Archadeck of Austin designs a pergola, we always ask the clients how much shade they want. Providing reliable shade can be a design feat in itself. With this project, our secret weapon in the quest for shade is a TopGal polycarbonate cover on the pergola. Unless you’re looking down from above, you don’t really notice this cover, but it makes all the difference. TopGal is a multiwall polycarbonate sheet that filters out the sun’s UV rays. It also provides thermal insulation for the area below the pergola by reducing solar heat gain. These homeowners chose a bronze-tinted cover for maximum protection. An added bonus: a covered pergola protects the space from rain, too.
Two more design elements of interest: the clients selected a solid-color stain for this cedar pergola. The tail cuts at the end of the pergola’s rafters are called saw tooth cuts.
Pergola Installation and Stonework Fire Pit
At one end of the pergola, we needed to add the pergola’s support posts to an existing structure, the low wall surrounding the hot tub. We knew we would need to remove and replace the smooth Lueders stone cap along the top edge of the low wall. With the Lueders stone cap out of the way, we were able to add the support posts between the hot tub and the stone wall. Then, we cut the new Lueders stone wall caps to fit around the pergola’s support posts. We matched all the stone, including the Lueders caps, to the original stone throughout the pool and hot tub area.
At the other end of the pergola, we built new stone columns around the pergola’s support posts. Those columns flank the new rectangular gas-burning fire pit we built for this space. Instead of building the columns and stone fire pit on the existing concrete patio, we built this structure OFF the patio. We peeled back the AstroTurf next to the patio and placed the new stone structure here to avoid losing usable patio space.
The rectangular fire pit with glass beads cradled in stone between the pergola’s support posts has a “built-in” look. The fire pit and the coping at the bottom of the pergola’s posts are the same stone used throughout.
Altogether this was a relatively simple project, but the results are stunning. The pergola, fire pit and stone columns look like they were here all along. Our Leander, TX, clients are quite pleased with the results and look forward to spending many lazy afternoons in the shade.
Would adding a shade pergola make your outdoor living space more inviting and more functional? Is a fire pit with a sleek, sophisticated design on your wish list? Contact Archadeck of Austin to schedule your free design consultation.
Jim Schallon, senior designer Archadeck of Austin.