Last night I started buckling down. I realized it was imperative that we get moving asap on my Quixote-like plan to somehow beat the sun this summer. The problem - one of the problems - was that it was after 9 p.m. when I decided we needed to go outside, think about the issue and take measurements. If a lumber yard had been open at that hour, I probably would have woken up the kids to go.
The back portion of our house was added on about 20-25 years ago and was designed with a cabin aesthetic. When we moved in, we ripped out the wood paneling and made some other improvements to alter the cabin feel, leaving only the very large stone and cement wall, hearth and fireplace and the exposed wood ceiling. The ceiling is very high, which is great, but there is minimal insulation and this side of the house is hit directly with all day sun, turning the family room and my office into an oven during the summer. We spent weeks where the inside temperature of the room was well over 100 degrees last year. Obviously, we don't have air conditioning and no amount of fans and a portable evaporative cooler helped much.
Somehow, we need to block the sun from hitting the side of the house, and ideally, shade enough of the side deck to allow the kids to play outside. I bought a sunsail shade last year, but either I mismeasured or I saw incorrect dimensions for the product, but the sail will not work. I was determined to somehow make it work this year, even dragging the family to Home Depot this weekend, but last night I accepted reality that it is not feasible. We looked at gazebos and canopies, but either they would not handle the wind (which we get a lot of - twice last year we had to get our patio umbrellas down from the roof) or they are long term, almost permanent, and I need the light to brighten and warm the house in the winter, so those don't work either.
What would work is pergola. Initially I could cover the top with canvas to block the sun, but then get some climbing plants to cover the top, but that could be trimmed back in the fall to allow more light to filter through. I love the look, but I need to be careful because this would go on a raised deck, so the structure would be anchored to the deck, not the ground, and the deck needs to withstand the weight. Aluminum pergola would be great and Costco has one for about $800, but it would stand out in a not-positive way as our house is brown shingled and the pergola is white. Not to mention, they weigh about 400 pounds and I don't know if that is pushing the limit for our deck.
I decided that I should build a smaller, wood pergola. I decided that last night in bed when I was completely fired up about the project. It didn't matter then that I have no carpentry experience, I have the drive! Or so I thought. Now today I am reconsidering the white aluminum one. Maybe it is because I was so excited about the project that I had trouble going to sleep. Now I am tired with a long to-do list just to get through the week and the pergola seems crazy. It was in the high 80s here this weekend, which forced me to think about the heat and the summer, but this morning is cool enough to wear a sweater. This weather makes me want to go back to bed and curl up under my down comforter. I'm fighting to stay focused, but that bed is really cozy.