When people think of a relaxing outdoor oasis, the image of lounging on comfortable furniture and enjoying the fresh air comes to mind. Shade solutions, like umbrellas, awnings, or pergolas, play a huge role in making an outdoor space comfortable, stylish, and enjoyable. Often, you might not even think about the shade in a space unless it’s missing and you’re uncomfortable in the sun.
For many designing their outdoor space or thinking about adding shade, it’s hard to know where to start. The Shade Team at Sunbrella has compiled expert advice to help empower you to choose the right shade solutions for your space.
Why Choose Shade?
Shade is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from the effects of the sun. Shade fabric can block UV rays and aid in preventing skin damage. In fact, Sunbrella canvas fabrics are endorsed by the Skin Care Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation (as part of a complete sun protection regimen, including regular use of sunscreen, to aid in preventing sun-induced skin damage).
Reduced Energy Needs
Shade fabrics provide passive solar protection, meaning adding an awning to your home will help you to keep the inside of your house cooler and reduce energy needs.
Beyond serving a functional purpose, a shade structure can help elevate the design of your home. With so many fabric options available, you can choose a shade solution that is reflective of your style and looks beautiful.
At the end of the day, what’s most important is that you can extend the living space of your home and enjoy it in comfort. Having ample shade will help you stay cooler and away from the glare of the sun, making your time outside that much more joyful.
We spoke with Jenny Liu, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota about the importance of shade. She works as the Chair of Dermatology, Department of Dermatology at Hennepin Health Care and as an assistant professor.
Dr. Liu explained, “seeking shade is one way to reduce the amount of UV that would otherwise damage our skin and is an important part of overall sun safety habits along with wearing SPF sunscreen, clothing with a UPF rating of 30+ and avoiding extended time in the sun during 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.”
“Shade is definitely one way to make the outdoors safe and still enjoy it. My advice is to invest in outdoor shade options that cover a large area – it’s helpful and practical.” – Jenny Liu, M.D.
Choosing a Shade Type
A great place to start is to identify your goals and how you plan to use your space. When considering what type of shade you need, here are a few things to think about:
- How do you plan to use the space (i.e., an outdoor family room or a dining area for entertaining)?
- What elements are in the space that the shade needs to cover?
- Are you interested in shade that is more permanent/fixed or something more flexible?
- Do you want whole space or more targeted shading?
- What are your landscaping plans?
- What design aesthetic are you aiming for?
All of these will impact the type of shade and shade fabric that will work best for your space.
Awnings and shade solutions have evolved well beyond what might come to mind from your parents’ or grandparents’ time. Today, the breadth of colors, patterns and performance abilities make adding shade a personalized design feature to complement and elevate any space.
If you prefer simplistic design, neutrals:
If you love blue hues:
If you have a traditional, colonial or red brick home:
If you’re looking to add a pop of color to neutral exteriors:
If you need something with both warm and cool tones:
If you have a home with an earthy stone exterior:
If beachy is more your vibe:
If you love your modern farmhouse- style home:
If you’re all in on the unique and want to make a statement:
Virtually see and experiment with any of our Shade fabrics by visualizing an awning on your own home through the online Sunbrella Shade Studio visualizer. You can also order fabric samples on the Sunbrella website.
Adding Shade to Your Space
Once you have a general idea of which type of shade and design style you are working toward, it’s important to find the right partner to make your vision come to life.
If you are interested in shade beyond an umbrella, you will need to identify an awning manufacturer or local fabricator. Visit our Where to Buy page to help find a fabricator for any shade application you are seeking. This vendor will be your partner in design and the creator of your shade structure, from fabric selection to determining the ideal functionality for your shade structure. They can also assist with installation or refer you to a trusted resource.