All this rain may be good for the plants—our hydrangeas are HUGE—but it's been putting a damper on one of our favorite summer activities: dining al fresco. However, we've been using the extra indoor time to amass inspiration for when we do have the pleasure of indulge our appetites outdoors. Currently, we're on a pergola kick. Pergola's are like the outdoor equivalent to exposed beams and paneled ceilings; they don't provide shelter, have no energy efficient perks, but they add more character to a space than four walls could ever hope. So, without further ado...
Wisteria, clematis, and Rambling Rose are the most common climbing plants associated with pergolas, but grape vines and a host of fruit-bearing vines can also be used for a functional and decorative use of the structure.
This is from Martha Stewart's dreamy Skylands home, complete with kiwi vines and a view.
Those blessed with big backyards often encounter a similar dilemma to those with large, open floor plans: how to create conversation zones? We love how pergolas define a space, and transforms a nondescript area into an inviting place for people to congregate. The outdoor fireplace doesn't hurt either... For ambitious DIYers who love the look as much as we do, check out Popular Mechanics' instructions for building your own. (Images: 1,4,5: House Beautiful, 2: Traditional Home, 3: Martha Stewart)