Pergolas and pavilions have become more and more popular backyard additions for good reason—there’s no better place for outdoor entertaining! While they may have a reputation for being more at home on fancy estates, smart styling can make them look at home in any backyard.
Keep reading for some of our favorite Tilly pavilion and pergola designs we’ve created over the years. But first, let’s cover one of the most common questions we get: what’s the difference between pergolas, pavilions, and gazebos?
Pergola vs. Pavilion vs. Gazebo
All three are shade structures that make a beautiful addition to any backyard, but they’re each a little bit different.
- Pergolas have a slatted or lattice-style roof supported by posts. They provide shade and many people will add additional shades or canopies to them.
- Pavilions have a solid roof. They have open sides and no built-in floor and are most commonly attached to a deck, paver patio, or concrete base. Most pavilions are square or rectangular.
- Gazebos also have a solid roof and partially open sides which may have low railings. However, gazebos tend to be shaped like an octagon or oval. A gazebo can have a built-in floor or can be placed on a concrete base.
The versatility of pavilions and pergolas make them some of our favorite features to include in landscape renovations. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite pavilion and backyard pergola ideas from our landscape design portfolio:
#1 // Pergola & Pavilion Duo in Kansas
These clients from Kansas wanted a perfect space for outdoor entertaining, and their designer knew they needed an outdoor design just as unique as their modern craftsman-style home. The solution was to include an impressive pavilion to be the central hub for entertaining, including a grill, bar stools, couch, TV, and outdoor fireplace that can be enjoyed in any weather. On nights when they want to take in the stars, a distinctive curved pergola hugs a fire pit just waiting for marshmallows.
#2 // Simple and Elegant California Pergola
This beautifully simple pergola design perched over a patio and outdoor dining set to provide gentle shade from the California sun. At the same time, the slatted roof leaves the space feeling open and airy to avoid making their compact backyard feel smaller. The clean lines of the pergola and patio match the contemporary design of the home for a perfect California modern design.
#3 // Romantic, Flower-Covered Backyard Pergola
This Illinois backyard full of pastel flowers and rustic stepping stones feels like it could have been dropped right out of a fairytale, and the designer knew that a pergola would be the perfect finishing touch. A classic arbor-style pergola covered in flowering vines nestled at the back of the yard hides a private and cozy bench which is the perfect spot for watching the summer fireflies.
#4 // Double Pergolas for Outdoor Entertaining
Compact backyards mean every inch of space count, but our designer made this small California backyard a killer location for entertaining by creating zones with outdoor structures. A large patio pergola covers a spacious dining set, while a pergola canopy and draped outdoor lighting add ambiance and extra shelter from the sun. Another smaller pergola adds privacy to a steaming hot tub next to a fire pit—the coziest place to end any evening.
#5 // Big Pergola for Outdoor Dining
An expansive patio pergola feels like an extension of this modern home in Canada! A large dining table is shaded under the slatted roof and placed conveniently next to an outdoor grill. When the party keeps going after the sun sets, a large hanging lantern lights the pergola in a soft golden glow.
#6 // Modern Texas Backyard Pergola
Tilly extended this client’s backyard patio with pavers to expand the entertaining area while maintaining a consistent, modern look. The modern metal kitchen pergola overhead shades the space and creates the perfect spot for BBQs and happy hours. An attached pavilion bridges the gap between the home and pergola, creating a sheltered patio to enjoy in any weather.
#7 // Eclectic Virginia Backyard Pergola
This eclectic backyard design uses a beautiful pergola to bridge the gap between home and backyard and to add shade for sun loungers by the pool. The light wood connects the pergola to the furniture throughout the space and keeps it casual yet chic while the climbing plants add a little romance.
#8 // Rustic Massachusetts Pavilion
This beautiful and rustic pavilion design reflects the cottage garden style of this Cape Cod landscape. The sturdy roof provides a covered space with shelter from New England’s unpredictable weather and the cozy fireplace will warm you right up! It’s an inviting outdoor living structure for guests and the perfect focal point to tie the entire yard together.
#9 // Modern Washington Pavilion
This oversized outdoor pavilion structure protects a beautiful fireplace and spacious grill and creates a secondary outdoor cooking space and entertaining area that can be used year round. The rustic stone and arching wooden roof mirror the materials of the home and the incredible natural beauty of Washington.
#10 // Calming Pergola for Meditation
This client’s meditation pergola is surrounded with trees and shrubs to create a sense of peaceful seclusion. A minimalist water feature provides soothing sounds and a beautiful view. The steel-framed zen pergola has a retractable canopy, allowing for shade or an open view of the sky. Uplighting on focal point plants provides a subtle take on pergola lighting ideas.
#11 // Classic Colorado Pergola
This client’s large concrete patio accommodates a dining table, grill, and wooden pergola with roof slats for shade. Concrete pavers set into the grass are incorporated on either side of the new concrete patio to make the whole space feel bigger and provide an extension of the main patio and extra space and seating for entertaining.
#12 // Framing the View in Ohio
A stone-columned pergola takes full advantage of the gorgeous views at this Ohio home! It houses a seating area that centers on a low stone wall and fireplace that provide a sense of enclosure and intimacy without blocking the view of the lake. There’s no better place to watch the sunset over the water.
#13 // Pergola in a Bustling Backyard
The potential of this compact North Carolina backyard is maximized through smart use of space, creating special spots for everyone in the family and the things they love. From a fire pit nook to a dining area – even a outdoor sports court – this yard has it all. The garden pergola is used to create a shaded outdoor dining space with beautiful ambiance for meals with the whole family.
#14 // New York Classic Wooden Pergola & Patio
This backyard pergola shades a comfortable dining table beside a cozy fire pit area overlooking two small raised garden beds. The pergola helps to define and separate the outdoor spaces, creating the feeling of outdoor rooms and separation between the outdoor “living room” and “dining room.”
#15 // Illinois Pavilion Entertaining Area
This design is all about inviting you into the backyard. This majestic pavilion creates the ultimate lounge space next to the large pool. With a built-in grill area, dining area, and fire pit lounge, no one will ever want to leave this party!
#16 // Virginia Cottage Pergola
A small pergola on decks or patios can make a big difference in ambiance and elevate a space to the next level. This sweet shade structure looks like a natural extension of the home, adding to the cozy cottage feel of this Virginia home.
#17 // Massachusetts Pavilion for Gathering
This striking pavilion blends in with the home and creates the ultimate indoor-outdoor living space for this family. The sheltered roof maximizes the potential of their fantastic outdoor kitchen space which flows into an inviting backyard seating area complete with a cozy fire pit.
#18 // Texas Pergola Design
This wood slat pergola attached to the house creates a cozy atmosphere for the lounging nook beneath it. Concrete step pads lead to a small pool, lounging deck and fire pit space—all working together to create a modern but naturalistic feel.
#19 // Maryland Naturalistic Pergola Design
This lush Maryland backyard feels like a private oasis thanks to the tall fences and dense plants. The tall wooden pergola and luxurious sauna echo the look of the wooden fence, bringing the whole backyard together into a cohesive and cozy design.
#20 // Modern New York Pergola
This client’s modern outdoor pergola stands above a sharp grid of stepping stones that house the fire pit, lounge area, and dining table. This outdoor living nook provides welcome space to relax in a small backyard dominated by a large pool.
Want to see more Tilly designs? We’ve got a full portfolio of designs—including pergolas and much, much more.