what is a gazebo

What is a Gazebo and What is the Purpose? A Closer Look

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up


Sometimes you want to sit and gaze, either yourself or with friends. Well, if you are catching the drift, a gazebo is made for just that. The word was coined as a joke where the word "gaze" was combined with the Latin word "ebo" to come up with "gazebo." That being said, a gazebo is an outdoor shade structure that is made for relaxation, normally out in an open space, while offering more privacy. The shape was originally octagonal or hexagonal, but you can find square gazebos today. Rectangular shapes are other features that you can come by when looking into gazebos.

Depending on where you are, you can get gazebo-like structures that serve a similar purpose. Other similar structures include the pergola, Alhambra, belvedere, pavilion, tea house, kiosk and more. However, what is a gazebo? We will look at some features that set the gazebo apart.

Features of a Gazebo

You can create a beautiful gazebo that serves your purpose to provide shade and offer relaxation. A gazebo is meant to offer protection from the elements while giving the best of resting outside. Here are some features that you may find in most gazebos that you will encounter or that you may consider before you build gazebos.

1. Concrete Base

Gazebos is an outdoor shade structure exposed to the different elements of weather that can be destructive at times. If you are living in the United States, for instance, you may be prone to experiencing weather elements like strong winds and even tiny tornados at given times. To combat this, you have to build a gazebo with a strong foundation to stay put in case of anything. Therefore, any structure that is outdoors needs to be constructed with a brick base or anything that will hold in case of floods, rains or heavy winds.

The concrete base supports the wood you will use to build on the structure. The structure is freestanding and might not support attaching to a wall or fence. The location of the gazebo is mostly in the open space. If you have a concrete base, you can be sure the walls will hold.

2. Completely Open Sides

One of the key differences between a gazebo and other structures is the open sides. That might be the biggest difference in terms of structure. A gazebo is meant to be out in the gardens and give an open view of the landscape while offering a private place. The seating area should be open enough to allow you to have a 360-degree view as you have your cold drink on a hot day while simultaneously offering much-needed privacy when you are out relaxing in your backyard or garden.

The primary goal of a gazebo is to provide shelter while offering the perfect view of your surrounding. Therefore, the structure needs to have sides that allow you to enjoy your favorite view of your backyard or garden. While you need to have a full view of the landscape, privacy is key. You can incorporate outdoor curtains or drapes to make the view inwards a bit restricted.

3. Vantage Positioning

When positioning the gazebo, you do not want to have it very close to the garden wall where you will not have the best views. You need to place the gazebo in a spot with all the views covered for your relaxation. You need to see the whole yard from where you are seated. Other factors will come after you get the position right. One way of choosing a good position is to look at the highest spot you can find in your backyard. All the walkways from all sides of your backyard should lead to one central point, which is the gazebo.

If the most central point is not the most convenient or discreet, you can look at corners. Corners offer a 270-degree view which is still good enough for anyone looking to relax. However, the main difference between a gazebo and other structures like a patio or seating area is the exclusivity that a gazebo offers that a deck will not.

4. Chairs

A gazebo is an outdoor structure with so much to offer that it cannot afford to have any chairs. Outdoor furniture ideas are among the most searched topics on Pinterest and DIYer sites. Garden gazebos offer the same serenity as a patio or a seating area to give a relaxing feeling. The only added of a gazebo is that it will offer privacy when you need it most. You can have benches or seats to rest with your friends or have some alone time.

The gazebo ought to be a comfortable place. A gazebo is found mostly in religious places that require people to reflect and have a quiet time. On the other hand, you can find gazebos in camping sites that have serene views for full relaxation of whoever is inside. Backyards are a great place to start with the gazebo, and comfortable chairs are the next thing you must consider.

5. Full Roof

A gazebo has to protect you from the sun. If the gazebo does not provide shade, it is better if you go out for a walk in the sun. A solid roof is vital for the gazebo because it might house other decorative pieces such as pots and dreamcatchers. Solid roofs are as important as a solid built-in floor. You can not afford to miss out on that. Any outdoor structure needs to have a well-thought-out roof that will withstand any strong winds that may come along.

6. Materials Used

Depending on your preference, you can get a vinyl gazebo or a wooden gazebo. Overall, vinyl gazebos are easier to maintain compared to their wooden counterparts. However, you will need a lot of maintenance from bugs that eat the wood and bore holes with wood. Also, wood gets affected more with time and weather, unlike vinyl.

Tips on Making Gazebos More Relaxing

To relax fully, you need to add a few things to make the gazebo your go-to place when you need some alone time or quality time with your friends. Here are some ideas you can incorporate.

a) Climbing Plants

Climbing plants are one of the most used outdoor design ideas for a good reason. Climbing plants blend with the environment, making outdoor structures more enticing and exciting to sit in. That additional charm adds to the much-needed relaxation of the mind. Of course, you have to look for lots and lots of plants once you have your gazebo. You can start having the plants before you build the gazebo to give them enough time to grow.

b) Swimming Pools

Nothing beats the combination of a swimming pool and a gazebo. Swimming is the healthiest way to relax the body and the mind, and combining that with a gazebo is magical. You can enjoy your meal or cold drink once you get out of the water and spend time with your friends. Look at what all the resorts are trying to do. Having a relaxing private place is a huge part of taking some time off to relax the mind.

c) Blending Design

You want the gazebo to blend in with other structures in the vicinity. Therefore, use the same colors on the walls and base, and go for a similar roof as the main structure in the area. Keeping the design in mind will make the gazebo your favorite spot.

d) Walkways

Decorating walkways make the gazebo an exciting place. With relaxing places, you notice the thought of having trails that build up to a final place. You can have beautiful flowers and pots along the walkway to the gazebo.

Some Downsides to a Gazebo

i) Not Self Contained

It would be nice if a gazebo were a self-contained structure. However, unlike most pavilions, where you can go and spend time with your friends and cook in an outdoor kitchen, a gazebo is just a structure isolated from all the amenities. For example, if you have to use a washroom, you must look for one outside the gazebo.

ii) Open Structure

While the open structure is one of the main features we enjoy about the gazebo, it can be downsides. If kids play in the backyard, the gazebo will not be a truly quiet place. Strong winds will always get you, and you have bugs to deal with. However, you can install very large windows and air conditioning to use the space during cold seasons.

Final Take

A gazebo is a must-have if you have the space for it in your backyard. While pergolas, patio or seating areas, and pavilions are a brilliant idea, gazebos are easier to build and faster to put up. In addition, the materials used on gazebos are affordable, and soon you will have a roof that will shelter you against the sun. You can choose whatever shape you like, including a rectangular or a square shape. The main goal is to have a relaxing experience, and a gazebo is a sure way.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Related Articles
Best Outdoor Deck Lighting Ideas For All Seasons

17 Best Outdoor Deck Lighting Ideas for All Seasons

Deck lighting is a stylish and functional method to illuminate your outdoor space for additional safety and appeal. Pick the ...

Best Outdoor Bamboo Curtain For Your Space

Bamboo is amazing for various reasons. As more people pay more attention to their carbon footprint and shift towards eco-friendly ...

What Is A Veranda?

What Is a Veranda And How Does It Improve Your Home?

Most living spaces have outdoor spaces or even enclosed spaces that extend to the exterior of the house. In this ...