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Outdoor pavilions are great landscape features that serve numerous functions. They provide a private area where you can dine with family and friends, relax with your favorite book or take a tranquil nap on a summer afternoon. Outdoor pavilions offer a quiet retreat where you can enjoy the beauty of nature right outside your back door.

With a roof and open walls, outdoor pavilions provide protection from the rain and shade from the sun, even when the weather isn’t perfect. Since pavilions can be designed and built in various sizes, shapes and designs, it’s easy to enhance your home’s features with a pavilion structure that fits your backyard. Take a look at 10 outdoor pavilion ideas for your Bergen County home.

1. Relax By the Pool

A pool pavilion provides the perfect place for swimmers to escape the hot sun or relax after a long swim. If you’re entertaining with a pool party, guests can dry off in the pavilion before heading back to the house.

You can even include a private changing area hidden behind draperies or a screen where guests can change clothes before dinner or heading home. For the comfort and convenience of swimmers, provide a storage cabinet for fresh towels and a hamper for wet ones.

For warmth and inviting ambiance, add a cozy fireplace or fire pit where swimmers can relax and warm up. This will be a welcome feature on cool or windy days, and especially after evening swims. For outdoor dining by the pool, a fire will keep diners warm and comfortable.

2. Meditate in the Garden

An outdoor pavilion placed in a beautiful garden setting provides a quiet place for reading and meditation. There’s nothing like curling up with a cup of tea or your favorite book while you listen to the tranquil sounds of nature. A zen garden will offer the perfect setting for peaceful meditation, and a butterfly garden will provide a beautiful exchange with some of nature’s most colorful creatures.

Whether you prefer garden outdoor pavilion ideas with fragrant roses, vivid sunflowers or a variety of outdoor plants and herbs in your garden, a pavilion will give you a place to relax and appreciate nature.

For a garden pavilion, all you need is comfortable seating like an outdoor bench or a couple of lounge chairs and several occasional tables to sit things down. If an afternoon nap in the garden sounds appealing, add a cozy hammock and a few pillows, and you’re all set for relaxing among the flowers, birds, butterflies and bees.

3. Dine in Style

Pavilions create a perfect setting for outdoor dining, and you can dine in style with an outdoor kitchen. An outdoor kitchen is a great feature that allows you to cook and dine outdoors year-round. Adding it to your pavilion will create a private, outdoor dining area with state-of-the-art amenities.

Grills are usually the major component and the most expensive appliance in an outdoor kitchen. There are many top quality professional-grade grills on the market including gas grills, electric grills, wood-fired grills and hybrid grills that cook with a combination of gas, charcoal and wood. In addition to great grills, optional cooking equipment includes: cook tops and side burners, griddles, rotisseries, smokers, deep fryers and pizza ovens.

Outdoor kitchens also offer state-of-the-art refrigerators with energy-efficient features and food-safe temperatures for outdoor food storage. Optional refrigeration equipment includes: freezers, ice makers and ice bins, under-counter beverage coolers, wine chillers and beer keg tappers. Great optional kitchen accessories include: sinks, dishwashers, blenders, storage cabinets and drawers, warming drawers, cutting boards, cooking utensils, trash bins and lighting.

4. Throw a Party

If you love to entertain, an outdoor pavilion provides a great spot for parties with the kids or friends and family. By adding a few special features, you can increase entertaining outdoor pavilion ideas year-round.

Wet Bar

Even if you don’t drink, a wet bar will provide lots of opportunities for entertaining friends and family. The kids can store their favorite drinks for outdoor activities.

Large Screen TV

With a large screen TV in your outdoor pavilion, you can host sports parties, watch your favorite movies or play your favorite video games in a comfortable outdoor setting.

Sound System

Today’s sound systems offer wireless technology with waterproof, bluetooth speakers and smart home controls. You can dance the night away with these state-of-the-art outdoor pavilion ideas.

5. Change the Shape

Although many outdoor pavilions are square or rectangular, octagonal, hexagonal, oval and round shapes will add more visual interest to the landscape. If you build a custom pavilion, outdoor pavilion ideas are endless, and you can build any size and shape pavilion that fits your back yard. If you have a large backyard, consider a large octagonal or hexagonal shape with interesting facets and more supports.

If your yard is small with minimal grassy areas, a round or oval shaped pavilion will create a simpler look and a better fit. Since round and oval pavilions have curves and softer edges, consider pavilion furnishings and accessories that enhance those features. Round tables, chairs with curved arms and outdoor wicker rockers look great in round and oval-shaped pavilions.

To further enhance your pavilion’s shape, add an outdoor rug, hanging lanterns and garden pots in appropriate shapes. You can even add a dome to the top of the pavilion that emphasizes its shape.

6. Put on an Exotic Roof

Many outdoor pavilions have roofing materials that repeat the roofing materials on the house. This does create design continuity between structures, but perhaps you want your pavilion to make a unique statement in the landscape. Outdoor pavilion ideas for roofing offer a wide variety of options:

Natural Appeal

If you have a lush landscape and a free form swimming pool with rock waterfalls, you can create a tropical oasis atmosphere by putting a grass or thatched roof on your pavilion. Don’t forget the Tiki bar to top off the look!

Modern Flair

If your house is modern with straight lines and lots of glass, consider a metal roof in bronze, copper or bushed steel. This will enhance the design elements of modern architecture and add unique style to your landscape.

Traditional Elegance

To enhance the traditional style of your home, consider a slate or tile roof for your pavilion. Although both materials are pricey, you won’t need much for a pavilion roof. Match the color to existing colors or finishes on the house.

7. Enclose the Space

Technically, outdoor pavilion ideas show open walls, but there’s nothing to prevent you from making modifications that offer added advantages. If you prefer a more enclosed area for weather protection and privacy, you can partially or totally enclose the pavilion space with a variety of options:

Glass Walls

For more protection from rain and wind, enclose your pavilion with low or full-height glass walls. You’ll stay warmer during fall and winter weather, and you won’t lose your view of the house and landscape.

Moveable Walls

If you build a large square or rectangular pavilion, you can add sliding or folding doors on the longest sides. This will create more privacy and warmth on chilly Northern NJ evenings.

Outdoor Draperies

For a more casual look and protection from rain and wind, add outdoor draperies to your pavilion that can be opened and closed when needed. Outdoor draperies provide an easy solution for warmth and privacy.

8. Use Interesting Materials

Outdoor pavilions can be constructed out of concrete, natural stone, brick, wood and vinyl composite materials. By using interesting building materials, you can create a pavilion that blends naturally into your landscape or stands out to make a bold, contrasting statement.

When choosing building materials and colors and finishes, consider the style and materials on your house, colors and finishes that complement your house, and the style of your landscape.

Keep in mind that all materials will need to hold up outdoors and provide safety on wet surfaces. If you’re not sure which materials are best for the structure, research outdoor pavilion ideas in design magazines and online sites like Houzz, and talk to a professional landscape company, like Borst Landscape & Design, about materials and costs.

9. Cool It Down

Since outdoor pavilions are typically open structures, it’s impossible to air condition them in hot spring and summer months. You’re subjected to hot outdoor temperatures that can make relaxing in your pavilion quite uncomfortable. Although you can’t put in central air, you can cool down the pavilion by installing ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans are easy to install. Your contractor can provide electrical wiring for the fans at the same time wiring is done for lighting. Depending on the size and shape of your pavilion, consider one to three ceiling fans for optimal air flow through your pavilion. During hot spring and summer temperatures in Bergen County, ceiling fans will provide a nice, cool, comfortable breeze for pavilion activities.

10. Install Good Lighting

If you plan to use your pavilion at night, you’ll need to install adequate lighting. Since most pavilions have enclosed roof structures, it’s easy to add overhead lighting. Depending on your style, you can choose from a variety of fixtures including recessed lights, hanging chandeliers and pendants and wall mounted fixtures. You can find a wide variety of outdoor lighting fixtures to complement any style, so it’s easy to choose fixtures and finishes that will enhance your outdoor pavilion.

Before choosing lighting fixtures, it’s a good idea to talk to your contractor about electrical requirements, wiring and location of on/off switches and plugs. Your contractor can help you with outdoor pavilion ideas for adequate lighting. It’s important to provide good lighting that will accommodate all of your outdoor pavilion functions.