Story by Ann Butenas
Sunny days are a given here in the Midwest, along with the sun’s heat as it beats down on your home. It’s no wonder that seeking out shade is a common past time of many of us. What if you don’t have trees for natural shading? Pergolas and other shade structures are the perfect way of enjoying the outdoors even when the conditions outside are less than appealing, creating ambiance to your popular space in the morning, afternoon or evening. And the transformation isn’t only to the outside of your home. Exterior shading has a big impact inside too reducing energy consumption by lowering the temperatures in your home, and protecting your furniture, shades and flooring from sun damage. We sat down with several Kansas City shade experts to hear about the different options available to help you and your home keep cool.
These Aren’t Your Mother’s Awnings
When people think of awnings, the old 1970s & 80s striped versions come to mind. With improvements in technology and design, modern awnings offer a myriad of options to cater to any of your super shady needs! Susan Haas, designer and owner of Awnings by Haas, and David Hixson of Baker-Lockwood Western Awning shared some of the trends they are seeing now in awnings and exterior shade designs. “If you are seeking more than just sun protection and looking for an all-weather solution, a roof system is a more suitable solution than just your standard awning,” said Haas. A retractable roof system is designed to roll back the roof on tracks so that the interior of the facility is open to the outdoors. Conversely when it rains it offers full all-weather protection from the elements. It has the flexibility of opening or closing the system to suit the weather conditions, as well as both motorized and non-motorized options. “One of our bestsellers is the Equinox Louvered Roof, an innovative patio cover that with just the touch of the button, transforms your day and view of the world. This stylish system is made from extruded aluminum and provides greater durability than traditional patio covers. Unlike plastic or fabric, the components will outperform in heat and rain. An optional fan and lighting system increase comfort and use,” shared Haas.
“As far as style and design, we have hundreds of choices available,” stated Hixson. “The most popular fabric is the Sunbrella line. They have really stepped up their design game from the boring old stripes of the past. We are seeing things like hounds tooth, a tweed blend, and even modern geometric looks that customers love!”
“Another great option for shade lovers is the solar screen. This mesh type fabric rolls vertically for an enclosed room or outdoor kitchen to help block wind. Prices range between $1200-$1300, but it really depends on your space and what your needs are,” said Hixson.
If it’s a beautiful outdoor space you are looking for, then a pergola just might be the answer. Pergolas can cover a patio or entertaining space outdoors and often has open sides and either a slatted or solid roof which offers shade below and against the house. These beautiful structures come in straight top or arched top design. “We are seeing more and more customers taking risks with custom pergola design choices, such as using steel and powder coated metal as opposed to cedar,” shared Chris Feldkamp, owner of Land Design Group. “And if you are looking to dress it up, custom lighting options are endless. From dimming options that give great ambiance to string lights that hide up inside of the pergola and stunning brass lighting that shines up from the patio floor onto the beams. It’s quite stunning.” Provide an element of fun with an open fan look or use movement to diffuse light during the day, while providing a refreshing breeze.
Cover Up In Style
Shade sails are a modern way of gaining relief from the sun. Available in several design options, these fabric shades can cover a seating area next to your home or a patio, doing double duty as a decorative and artistic part of the landscape. These are another great choice for more casual and contemporary outdoor spaces. They also let you bring in a playful splash of color to brighten up the garden area. Best of all, some are super flexible – you can easily move them with the path of the sun, or to different areas of your outdoor space. It all depends on your mood, livability and entertaining needs.