Pergola Ideas for the Front of the House Make the Most of Limited Space

pergola ideas for the front of the house

A pergola doesn’t have to be large, and can be the perfect solution to a small space that needs livening up.

The front of my house used to be very plain. While I did a lot of work in the back, I let the front slide because I didn’t have a lot of room to work with. I kept it neat, of course, but it still wasn’t very eye catching. But a friend helped me realize that just because you don’t have a lot of space doesn’t mean you can’t have an attractive entryway. We decided adding a small pergola would provide just the right amount of bang for the buck.

I’ve had a little bit of a pergola epiphany lately, as I’ve discovered how versatile they are. Pergolas are especially good for limited spaces because their design is so flexible. When most people think of pergolas, they think of large structures that might cover a patio or even a pool, but they don’t have to be that big. Pergolas can easily be adapted for close quarters, like at the front of your house. It’s a way to highlight your home’s entrance without having to get involved in a big project. Along those lines, we’re going to talk about what to keep in mind when building a small pergola, and we’ll also go over some of the best small pergola ideas for the front of the house.

Tips for Creating a Pergola Entryway

We’ve talked about pergolas a lot before on this blog, including about pergolas on small patios, pergolas vs gazebos, and pergola decorating ideas. That’s because there’s an almost infinite variety of things you can do with and to a pergola. If you break pergolas down to their most basic forms, though, there are essentially two types: the gabled pergola and the skillion (or flat) pergola. Both refer to the roof style of the pergola. A gabled pergola has an arch in the roof, while the skillion features a traditional flat roof structure. Personally, I think gabled can be a great idea for a front entryway, as you can take advantage of vertical space when your horizontal space is limited. Regardless of whether you choose a flat or gabled structure, these are some things to keep in mind:

  • Consider pitch: Since the pergola will be at the front of your house–possibly right outside your front door–and likely close to or up against your home, you want to pay attention to where any water falling on the structure is draining to. If your rafters are far enough apart, this won’t matter too much, as the water will fall right through.  But if you structure them very close together, or choose to cover the roof in material, you’ll need to pitch your roof to allow it to drain.  
  • Choose plants with caution: Traditionally, pergolas are covered with plants, but when those plants will be right up by your door you’ll want to take care when choosing them. Certain plants can attract beautiful visitors, like hummingbirds and butterflies, but other plants, like euonymous and some types of holly, attract flies as pollinators. As you’re opening that door a lot, you could be letting those bugs into the house. Pick a plant that attracts insects you don’t mind having around, or go with a fabric covering.
  • Don’t forget safety: If you’re working with limited space around the front door, a pergola is going to shrink that area even more. Make sure the posts of your pergola are set outside of the door frame on both sides, so it’s easy to get in and out quickly. In addition, a pergola–especially a covered one–could create a dark entryway at night. I found that it helped immensely to add some LED lighting to the inside of the structure.

Keep those thoughts in mind when you’re measuring out the space for the structure. You can customize the dimensions of your pergola to fit the shape of the front of your house. Ideally, your pergola’s style–not just its shape–will suit your home as well.

Pergola Ideas for the Front of the House: Choosing a Look

You’ll want to choose the right type of structure based on your home’s style and the look you’re going for, as well as how much space you have available. Pergolas come in almost every variation you can imagine, but here are a few types that best suit the front of the house:

  • Skillion or flat: A flat pergola is the simplest to create. Its design is basic, so it’s best to pair with a similar style home. It works well with contemporary, art deco, bungalow, colonial, or modern styles, as these use flat, straight lines that will make a flat pergola feel like a natural addition.
  • Gabled: A gabled pergola is one with at least one arch in the roof. These are a bit more complex to put together and can be busy-looking if your home has a lot of straight lines. A gabled pergola entrance way works best with Tudor, Victorian, French Provincial, Dutch Colonial and Cape Cod styles, as the arched pergola roof complements the arches and gables of these types of structures.
  • Wall-leaning: A wall-leaning pergola can be gabled or flat. This is a type which has only two freestanding posts; the other side of the pergola is anchored to the home. This is a great option if you have limited space to work with in your entryway. However, it only works if the front of your home is flat, as you’ll need space for the ledger board, where the pergola will attach to the house.

You’ll also want to consider how big your pergola will be and where it will extend. Pergolas can be no more than a small covering for your door; they can extend from the door down your front walk; or your pergola can be narrow and skinny, attached along the front of the house.

When you’re trying to pick a pergola design out of all the designs out there, it can be overwhelming. I found OZCO to be really helpful in this respect. They have a wide variety of pergola building plans for many different types of pergolas, including an attached T-tie wall leaning pergola like the one described above. You can also create a custom kit, which is great if you need to work in smaller dimensions. But building a pergola for your entryway isn’t all about picking a style and size. One big thing you’ll need is great hardware, things like timber screws, post anchors or bases, and fasteners. All of OZCO’s hardware is designed to stand up against the elements (it’s hot-dipped galvanized and powder coated), plays nice with pressure-treated lumber, and ultimately gives you a safe and secure structure. Your front door is the face of your home. Dressing it up with a pergola is a simple project you can complete in a weekend, and a Pinterest-worthy way to make your entry more inviting.

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