Shades of style - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Shades of style

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Posted: Saturday, April 29, 2006 7:30 am | Updated: 3:52 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

It’s 10 to 20 degrees cooler in the shade, and that can make all the difference when you’re floating in the pool or cooking on the backyard grill.

“A lot of people go without (sun shades) and it’s a mistake,” says Tom Lockhart, general manager of Robb & Stucky Outdoor Living in Chandler. “We lead the nation in melanoma, and people will take a little sunscreen for granted.”

Homeowners have recently discovered that sun shades aren’t just practical — they’re fashionable. Brightly colored umbrellas, pavilions and palapas are a popular backyard accessory all over the East Valley.

“People are going for color,” says Mike Linda, manager of Outdoor Living in Mesa. “We live in a colorful state, and you have to get color.”

Umbrellas are by far the most popular form of sun shade — they’re cost-effective ($199 to $500), mobile and will last up to 10 years (thanks to UV protective fabrics).

Cantilever umbrellas with freestanding bases are the latest trend. These umbrellas are mobile so you can move them over to the spa or to the pool for extra protection from the sun.

Consumers have lots of choices when it comes to colors, and brighter is better this season. But some people are taking their umbrellas in an artistic direction by opting for custom artwork.

“It’s very popular,” says Karen Slattery, owner of Desert Island Collection, which carries the umbrellas of Palm Springs artist Ken Parker. “They’re colorful, and more importantly, they’re durable. If you can dream it we can make it.”

Beach scenes, butterflies and an assortment of patterns are available. One of Slattery’s customers commissioned an umbrella with Camelback Mountain — her favorite hiking spot.

When properly cared for, these artistic umbrellas will last up to nine years. Desert Island Collections uses mildew-resistant paint, and the fabric can be removed from the frame for washing.

While most umbrellas are retired at the end of the season, pavilions can stay up all year round, creating a permanent spot for entertaining. Some people are choosing fabrics for the pavilion that complement their interior decor, says Lockhart.

And, misters can be added to the frame so you can entertain in comfort. The price for such comfort is a little high: A pavilion might cost up to $5,000.

“People are spending so much time outdoors (in their own backyards) rather than going out,” says Lockhart. “So people tend to invest more in their backyard.”

Sometimes the best shading is natural shading, says Linda. But if you don’t have tall, lush trees in your backyard, then a palapas is the next best thing.

A palapas is type of umbrella made with natural materials. The center pole and latilla support the roof, which is made up of dried palm leaves. You might see them at a tropical resort, and they cost anywhere from $1,700 to $2,500.

“This is for anyone trying to achieve a natural environment, a tropical look,” says Linda.

Anyone thinking about adding an umbrella, pavilion or palapas to their backyard should check with their homeowners association first. Most of these structures are higher than 9 feet and might be prohibited by the association’s bylaws.


Robb & Stucky Outdoor Living

1020 N. 54th St. Chandler (480) 598-2700 or

Outdoor Living

3426 E. Baseline Road Mesa (480) 222-3111

Desert Island Collection

(480) 502-5561 or

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