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10 Unique Retractable Awning Ideas

A retractable awning presents endless opportunities for those who seek them. You might already know that it is way more functional than a fixed patio awning which is a permanent structure. If you’ve heard about this type of shading solution but are still wondering how to implement it most efficiently, you’ve come to the right place.

Today I’ll give you ten unique retractable awning ideas. If you are a homeowner or business owner considering ways to improve your outdoor living space, these tips will come in handy. 

You can also benefit from this blog post if you already have your patio awning installed. I’ll share some ideas to help you upgrade the entire patio space, so a leisurely afternoon becomes a lifetime memory.

Unique Retractable Awning

1. Small lateral arm awnings for your windows

Installing lateral arm or drop-arm retractable awnings over your windows is the first idea that comes to mind.

It’s a practical idea since no matter where you live or what commercial property you own, you have windows that let in natural light. Since sunlight is quite intense during the summer, it is normal for the indoor temperature to rise and become quite hot. 

Lower the indoor temperature

If you install a retractable awning over each window or balcony, you can enjoy significantly lower indoor temperatures, as quality fabrics have incredible heat resistance. In addition, they reduce sun glare and harmful UV rays from reaching inside your home or business during the hottest parts of the day.

Lower the outdoor temperature

You can enjoy added comfort as you step outside by providing shade on cement patios and tiled balconies. You won’t burn the soles of your feet on the heated flooring as you walk in bare feet. The lateral arm awning will also reduce the sunlight that reflects and intensifies through mirrors, windows and shiny surfaces. 

Lower your electricity bill

As a result, you will be able to enjoy cooler temperatures without having to use your air conditioning system excessively. And what does lower electricity consumption mean? You are correct – lower electricity bills.

Small lateral arm awnings

2. Large louvered-roof pergolas for year-round outdoor activities

Retractable louvered-roof pergolas (also known as bioclimate pergolas) can offer maximum protection against all outdoor elements, including heavy rain, sun, snow, hail and wind. 

Installing a large pergola over your patio is one of the greatest and most rewarding awning ideas you can come up with. It will allow you, your family, friends or customers to enjoy outdoor activities all year round while staying sheltered from various outdoor conditions.

Entertainment, leisure, get-togethers, sports – you name it. You can do it all under the safety of a retractable roof pergola. If the structure is semi-attached to a building, you can seamlessly connect the outdoors with the indoors, creating more usable space for everyone around you.

3. Freestanding retractable shading structures as garden highlights

Let’s look into another one of the awning ideas I can give you – using freestanding retractable shading structures to highlight specific garden areas.

If you have a large backyard or a garden, you might be thinking about creating a lovely lounge area that becomes the centerpiece of your outdoor space. A large freestanding retractable pergola or awning can help you achieve just that. 

Functional masterpiece

By mounting a freestanding shading structure in your backyard, you’ll not only define and highlight a particular area of your preference but also shelter it from the sun and, depending on the used materials, from rain. What a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, even in scorching or inclement weather!

Mounting options

The best part is that you can get a freestanding awning (pergola) to anchor into the ground for maximum stability. Or, you can invest in a portable patio awning and have the option to move it around whenever you see fit.

Freestanding retractable

4. Retractable side patio awning for your outdoor poolside

Suppose you have an outdoor pool at your house or business property. In that case, you have a fantastic opportunity to install retractable side patio awnings to increase privacy and create a cooler poolside area.

Protection from the elements

The installation process of side awnings is unchallenging and easy to complete. These structures provide shade from lateral sunlight and the hours during which the sun is at its lowest. In addition, you can prevent water splashes from reaching the poolside furniture and the people enjoying their leisure time on the nearby sunbeds.

Advanced privacy

You can also use multiple side awnings to create a larger structure and seclude a particular poolside area. People can use such an area instead of a dressing room to change into more comfortable or dry clothes while avoiding prying eyes.

Retractable side patio awning

5. Enclosing outdoor spaces for constant weather protection

Creating a cool shade to relax under on hot summer days is one thing, but what do you think about getting constant protection from all weather conditions without building solid walls? Yes, it’s possible, and you can do it for your house or business too.

If you want to invest in a semi-attached or a freestanding pergola, consider if you want your side space to be open or enclosed. Enclosing such an area can significantly increase the functionality of the outdoor space, as you’d be able to use it at all times, despite the weather.

Sliding glass doors

You have many options you can choose from when designing your space. Often, people install sliding glass doors on all sides. This way, you can still enjoy the lovely view, even if the doors are closed when it’s raining. 

Sliding doors also allow you to leave them open, letting airflow in and enjoying the feeling of being outdoors while having a roof shelter over your head.

Drop-down vertical screens

If you don’t need protection from all elements, you can enclose the side space by installing drop-down vertical awning screens. They can further reduce heat and protect you from harmful UV rays while keeping annoying bugs away. 

Retractable side screens

But you don’t necessarily need a pergola to seclude your outdoors. If you already have a retractable awning installed over your patio, you can upgrade it by adding retractable side screens. This way, you can control your setting on all fronts.

Retractable side screens

6. Creating a smart home inside and out

With the increased interest in smart home systems such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa and others, the retractable awning industry and third-party providers started to think of creative ways to satisfy new-age customers.

Motorized awnings

Today, you can purchase a fully motorized retractable awning for your outdoor space. Also known as an electric awning, this product runs thanks to an electric motor that simplifies function and control. 

Operation and control

You can seamlessly extend or retract the fabric no matter how heavy, or large the canopy is, just by clicking a button on your smartphone app, remote control or wall switch. It happens quickly and effortlessly, as you don’t need to operate it manually through a hand crank (manual crank).

Automation and integration

That being said, some third-party providers offer technology solutions to connect your smart home system with your outdoor smart sun shading system. Thanks to them, you can create a synchronized environment and a harmonious setting inside and outside your home.

7. Lights for cozy ambiance and evening get-togethers

Adding lights to your garden or backyard is a great idea and an absolute necessity. My suggestion is to install outdoor lighting to your retractable awnings, whether you have a portable patio awning, a lateral arm awning or a retractable pergola.

Adding awning lighting is an easy way to illuminate your patio during the blue hour, evening, and night. You can create an alluring ambiance for your guests or customers without too much effort, and you have numerous options to do it. Let’s see some of them.

LED strips or lines

You can save on lighting expenses by implementing LED technology, which typically requires lower energy consumption when compared to other solutions. Here, you have a few different options.

For example, you could stick simple LED strips along your awning frame or pergola’s corners to create suggestive spaces and highlight its shape. A more sophisticated alternative is to install LED lines with adjustable brightness and colors across the pergola perimeter or along the awning frame structure

LED spotlights

Another option is directly integrating LED spotlights into the pergola’s louver blades. This will require more electrical work during the retractable awning installation process and the help of a certified electrician.

Other lighting options

Of course, you could implement other lighting options for your sheltered patio area. One of them is to connect string lights under the awning’s fabric, but remember that you will need to remove them if you decide to retract the canopy.

If you have a pergola, you can install garden or bollard lights in front of each post. They will illuminate the inside of the pergola and highlight the pillars. If you have an awning, you can do the same but install them under each corner of the extended canopy.

LED spotlights

8. Custom equals perfect

One of the best parts of retractable awnings is that they’re highly customizable. Choosing a custom retractable awning means selecting the perfect shading solution for your case.

Colors and patterns

You have thousands of options to choose from when it comes to solid or striped colors, patterns, textures and styles. You can select a more modern look for a clean style or vintage colors for cute and cozy small-town storefronts. 

Improved curb appeal

The ability to customize your awnings inevitably results in significantly improved curb appeal as long as you plan your design carefully. You can increase the resale value of your home and attract more potential buyers thanks to its beautiful looks.

Promotion and advertising

Customization is an excellent opportunity for business owners to promote and advertise their property or business. You can purchase an awning with a custom print representing your brand’s features, such as a logo or tagline.

custom retractable awning

9. Automate your experience with technology

People across all industries strive for automation through technology. As we saw the numerous benefits, we also began transferring these trends to our homes. Automation saves time, effort, energy consumption, and money and prevents damage to the shading product or outdoor furniture.

If you own or plan to purchase a motorized retractable patio awning, you get the perfect opportunity to create a completely autonomous outdoor shading system. You can upgrade your patio awning with multiple detection sensors and take advantage of the versatility of this technology.


One way to automate your patio awnings is to connect them to timers with a preset schedule. You can set your personal preferences daily or leave them throughout the season. For example, you can set the timer to extend the awning at 10:00 am when the sun intensifies or retract it when it starts to set. 

Wind and motion sensors

Wind and motion sensors are most suitable for lateral arm patio awnings. This is because pergolas are very sturdy, and there are very few cases when wind speeds would damage them. The wind sensor detects wind speed at specific time intervals and determines whether the awning should remain extended or needs to be retracted.

Sun sensors

Sun sensors work similarly to wind and motion sensors, but they detect sunlight. You need to set your preferences for brightness levels, and the sensor will extend the patio awning when daylight exceeds this threshold.

Rain sensors

As you can already guess, rain sensors detect precipitation and measure rainfall. You can use these sensors in two ways – to protect your awning from damage or your outdoor area from rain.

If you are interested in the first functionality, you probably own a water-resistant patio awning that cannot withstand heavy rain. In the second case, you have a heavy-duty waterproof pergola canopy or a bioclimatic louvered roof pergola that ensures your outdoor space and furniture stay dry.

10. Travel comfortably in your campervan or RV home

The last one of the retractable patio awning ideas I’ll share with you today is attaching a folding arm awning to your campervan or RV home. You can achieve supreme comfort by mounting such a shading structure along the length of your RV and having it at your disposal no matter where the wind takes you.

Safe during movement

You know you cannot attach a fixed awning to your RV, as the wind will blow it right off when you start driving down the road. 

But a full cassette retractable awning might be just the product you’ve been looking for. It will be safe during movement as long as you carefully retract the fabric into the cassette before setting off into the sunset.

Functional while parked

You’ve finally parked your RV and want to enjoy the outdoors and the surrounding nature. You take your camping chairs and tables out, extend the awning canopy, and there it is – your own furnished and well-shaded patio wherever and whenever you go.

folding arm awning