Your Ambient Guide to Choosing Pergola Decorations

We all know the feeling too well.

You’ve finished your 30-minute commute home from the office, and it’s 6:30 pm. You’ve been staring at a screen for most of the day and craving to get outside. But you need to make dinner, eat, and clean up. What do you do?

Well, you could scrap the idea of getting outside altogether and watch Netflix instead. Or you could create a comfortable outdoor space in your own backyard, avoiding more screentime and finally get the fresh air you’ve been craving. While you don’t need a fancy setup to have access to fresh air, most of us know the feeling of a long day all too well. Sometimes getting fresh air right out your front door is all you have time for.

For nights like these, we want you to ditch the TV and spend time outside in your own ambient space. Whether it’s just for you or something shared with others, we want you to tap into your senses to create a dreamy space you’ll keep coming back to! We’re going to guide you through different ways you can decorate your pergola while taking your senses into account. 

Let’s start dreaming up ideas!

What’s the Point of a Pergola?

You may have asked yourself why pergolas exist in the first place. You should know that they’ve withstood the test of time from the Roman era to the 21st century. Historically they’ve been used to support climbing plants and provide shaded seating areas, and today they’re commonly found in gardens, parks, and as outdoor features for single-family homes. 

Here are six reasons why people have pergolas:

  1. Provide sun protection and versatile shade
  2. Create a sheltered walkway to another structure
  3. Designate an outdoor entertainment space
  4. Support climbing and creeping plants
  5. Increase your home value
  6. Add affordable beauty to your dwelling

If you want to learn more about why pergolas exist, don’t forget to read our blog post below!

→ What is the Point of a Pergola, You Ask? We’ve Got Answers.

Our Biggest Tip? Get the Mood Right.

Spring and summer are inviting times to be outside and enjoy the fresh air. While other activities might be enticing during the week, sometimes busyness hits, and we have to make do with what we have- our own backyards! If you’re fortunate to have an outdoor space you can call your own, take advantage of it. Listening to music, reading books, and dining outside can still help you get fresh air without traveling away from home. 

To make your outdoor space comfortable, it should feel like an extension of your home. Add ambiance through greenspace, scents, textures, lighting, and sound. Some of our favorite looks incorporate these ambiance factors.

1. Lighting

You know how important lighting is for a comfortable space if you’ve ever heard of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge is the Danish word that encompasses the idea of creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying those good things in life with other people. A flickering candle, string lights, and paper lanterns are all hygge. Fluorescent lights are the opposite of hygge. You want the lighting on your patio to be calming, soft, and warm. We’ve picked out some favorite lighting ideas for you to try.

String lights on a dark pergola with a long dining table underneath. A beautiful chandelier over a French-inspired dining table and setup in a green garden.
String lights from Lights4Fun and chandelier design from Providence Design

Adding string lights or a statement piece like a chandelier to your pergola is sure to boost the cozy ambiance. Not only does lighting help with the overall mood of your space, but it’ll come in handy when your outdoor hangouts run into the evening! Strings of warm-white festoons with small bulbs add an elegant touch. We love these from lights4fun, a company that sells beautiful and unique indoor and outdoor lights in the US and UK. This pergola setup with the candles, chandelier and beautiful Chinese-style vases was designed by Mona & Talena, two interior designers with a soft modern and European style at Providence Design. They’ve designed beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces in Little Rock, AR. You can contact them to learn more about their unique antique pieces for sale!


white paper lanterns hanging on a white pergola with foliage against and brick wall and string lights on a tree in the evening with candles lit on the ground.
White paper lanterns from TuesdayMade and evening lighting inspiration from Lights4Fun

Adding paper lanterns of different sizes and colors push a bohemian-inspired flare. Soft twinkle lights and LED candles add a magical touch to the evening. To keep lantern maintenance and setup simple, look for solar-powered options that don’t need to be connected to an extension cord. We like the clean and simple look of these white paper lanterns from TuesdayMade, a clean and curated collection of home pieces. These candles and fairy lights can be found at lights4fun

2. Natural Elements

Plants aren’t just a personal preference. Plants help us decompress, wind down, and reduce anxiety in a therapeutic way, all while improving the air quality around us. According to, “Numerous studies have been published by the Internation Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health summarizing the positive physiological effects of interaction with plants, including improving mood and lowering cortisol levels. It’s called biophilia: the human tendency to prefer natural environments as an evolutionary byproduct.” The bottom line: we feel more at ease when we’re around plants. If you really want to boost the ambiance under your pergola, your lawn alone isn’t going to cut it.

Hanging baskets on a tan pergola filled with ferns and a steel pergola with white wisteria
Hanging plant baskets from Lowes

Hanging baskets of flora and fauna are a great way to add seasonality to your pergola. Begonias in the spring, petunias in the summer, and sweet potato vines in the fall are just some of the many varieties you could plant in hanging baskets. If you want more of a one-and-done deal, climbing and creeping perennial plants can be maintained through the seasons. This image of wisteria climbing up a steel pergola was designed by Designs By Sundown, a CO-based landscape and architecture company. We think that the white, navy, purple, and orange colors work amazing together to really make this space pop.

3. Scent

Scent is an incredibly important sense! Adding pots of strongly-scented plants such as geranium and citronella can relax your space. As an added benefit, both scented geranium and citronella are known to ward off mosquitoes. Bonnie Plants has a great quick guide for growing citronella and general plant care. Candles are another great option to add a pleasant aroma to your dwelling.


Images of red geranium and citronella
Citronella image from Bonnie Plants

4. Texture

Adding texture in the form of fluffy pillows, soft curtains, and textured rugs can help bring the coziness of the indoors outside! Fluffy outdoor pillows are tempting to cuddle next to, and decorative floor cushions can allow for more seating outside chairs and benches. You can soften the look of a solid pergola with sheer white curtains that give off a whimsical feel. We like these curtains from NiceTown with nearly a thousand reviews on Amazon and 4.5 stars! Adding outdoor rugs can add dimension to your space while keeping the ground warmer in the winter and saving bare feet from the scorching pavement in the summer. This rug is from and is rated with almost five full stars. Its peachy terracotta color paired with a beige botanical print give it a warm pop of color. Sue Oda did a wonderful job piecing together this design with earth tones and dark wood features.


Dainty white curtains hanging off of a pergola with a vine plant growing over the top. An image of a terra cotta botanical print rug on a dark patio.
Dainty white curtains from Nicetown and a terracotta peachy rug from
Ambient pergola over a patio with dark wood, throw pillows, floor cushions and a fire table all in grey earth tones.
Image from Sue Oda landscape design

5. Sound

Sounds of birds chirping, running water, and a breeze through the trees are scientifically proven to enhance your health and well-being. Sound significantly impacts the ambiance of a space. Adding speakers, wind chimes, bird-attracting plants, or shrubs that block out unwanted sounds can all help with the atmosphere of your outdoor area.


An outdoor patio speaker in a mulched area of the patio. A beautiful tall windchime with redwood accents.
Patio speaker from and a handmade wind chime from Chris Kallmyer Studio

This beautiful five-tone hand-made wind chime from Chris Kallmyer Studio in LA produces a low, long-lasting ring. We also like these patio speakers from that can be set up either on your pergola or on the ground surrounding your patio. 

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, learn how to better decorate your pergola like a pro!

We hope you’ve been incentivized to get more fresh air right out your front door. If you need a pergola or fully-covered patio, reach out to ShadeWorks today to schedule your free in-home estimate!

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