Ideas for a Beautiful Backyard Pergola Makeover

This virtual backyard pergola makeover looks so great, and it's all easy to do! Tips for selecting a pergola stain color and helping it look cohesive with the rest of the house, too.

Hello there! Dawn here, from I’ve had fun offering up my suggestions for reader submitted questions (in the form of a Photoshop mockups) the past few months, and I’m back at it this month— this time with another curb appeal question. (FYI, you can see all my moodboards and mockups by clicking here!)If you follow Remodelaholic on Facebook, you’ve probably seen several of the reader questions that are submitted every month. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love the helpful community vibe of these posts, so here’s my two cents on one reader submitted question and a mock up of what I would do if I were in your shoes! (Pssssst— you can submit your reader questions by messaging Remodelaholic on Facebook!)

First though, my disclaimer: While I can recommend ideas that I think look nice, I have never seen this house in real life and don’t have accurate measurements. I am also not an architecht or landscaper and do not know the planting recommendations for your area- I just like to make things look nice. I can’t guarantee that any of the items I put in my ‘virtual’ design will actually work in real life (or that they’ll fit your design style for that matter), and this is not intended to be a professional design consultation. So think of this as a just-for-fun rendering that hopefully gets your wheels turning and provides some inspiration!

This month, my mock up is a little close to home… my sister’s home actually. My twin sister, Dania, and her husband, Chad, have been debating over what to do with their bare backyard for months, specifically what color to stain the pergola. (Side bar: Chad built that awesome structure himself last summer! I know!) They finally brought me in as the tie breaker, since they couldn’t come to a decision. I guess asking for visuals before you take on a major project is one of the perks of having a designer sister.

Well since I was mocking it up anyway, I thought I’d share it with you too. It was a fun challenge. Here is what the back of the house looked like originally:


The main debate was over what color to stain the pergola. Dania was considering something fun and unique, specifically a light blue stain, while Chad was leaning towards a deep rich brown stain.

After mocking up both colors for them, we all agreed that the blue was not working. I have to say that I fully expected blue to be the winner, at least in my mind, but seeing it up next to the color of the house, I exercised my right as a woman to change my mind. 😉

dania_blue pergola mockup

There are a few issues here. First, the saturation of the blue is too close to the saturation of the siding, so even though they are different colors, there isn’t really the contrast you’d want to make the pergola stand out in a good way. Instead, it stands out simply because it’s blue, and doesn’t really feel like a part of the house, so much as an afterthought that looks a little out of place.

Moving on to option number two, the dark brown stain was the winner. It fit perfectly with the siding color, giving just enough contrast to add depth and interest, without feeling like it didn’t belong or was completely separate. Once the stain color was nailed down, I had some fun adding in a few other decorative elements to make the back of the house really look finished.


I started by adding curtains to the pergola, because I knew Dania would love it. Then I incorporated the stain color with the house even more by (virtually) painting the back door to the garage a similar shade of deep brown. It ties everything together and brings in more visual interest to the otherwise all tan house.

I added white rock (Dania’s request) along with some of her favorite plants: peonies, a lilac bush, and some tall grasses, and also some hanging planters on the pergola to bring some of that beautiful nature up off the ground. Finally, I added a stone pathway from the patio to the garage door. It’s both pretty and practical, since trekking across the lawn isn’t ideal.

So what do you think? Doesn’t it look so much cozier and more finished? Dania and Chad are already well on their way to making this mockup a reality, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out in real life. 🙂 Here are a few sources for the mockup:

Stain Color: Sherwin Williams Charwood (SW 3542)
White Rock
Stone Pavers
Dad’s Workshop Sign
Outdoor Curtains
Hanging Planters

And if you’re looking for even more pergola inspiration photos, here are a few I rounded up for you!

Pergola Makeover Inspiration | Found on
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Pergola Makeover Inspiration | Found on
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Pergola Makeover Inspiration | Found on
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Pergola Makeover Inspiration

Pergola Makeover Inspiration | Found on
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Pergola Makeover Inspiration | Found on
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Pergola Makeover Inspiration | Found on
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Pergola Makeover Inspiration | Found on
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I hope all these ideas inspire you to get outside and create a space you love!

As always, thank you to Cassity and the Remodelaholic team for having me back each month. If you like this post, and have a design dilemma you’d like me to mock up some ideas for, let me know! Ask your questions by sending Remodelaholic a message over on Facebook.) Also I’d love for you to visit me on my blog,, or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. Have a great day, friends!


Ready to build your own pergola?

Try one of these beauties — just click the photo for the full building tutorial!

DIY pergola tutorial for How to Build a Pergola with a Fire Pit by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

update a pergola with drop cloth sails

Website | + posts

Dawn is one half of the team behind the creative blog, AD Aesthetic. By day she works as the VP of Creative for a design and marketing company (getting paid to make things look good!), while by night she renovates her Midwest home, refinishes thrift-store furniture for fun, and works with her husband on raising two tiny humans. Dawn believes in the potential to design your surroundings and your life one day at a time, and lives by the motto, 'Make everything beautiful.' Get to know her better by visiting her blog,, or following along on Facebook and Instagram.

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  1. I love the idea of the curtains; what materials/care are needed to keep them looking nice after being exposed to rain and sun? What would be a reasonable amount of time to expect them to last?

  2. What a great transformation…the only thing I would do different is not use the fabric….I much prefer the clean look of the pergola. The color is perfect for the home….keep us updated when all planting S are done. Btw I love the walk way….it seems to extend the design farther around the house. GREAT JOB!!!!