Do you remember those painted aluminum awnings that often graced suburban windows a few decades back?

Well, awnings are back big-time. They’ve been updated too, and many have a sleek “euro” look that I just love. Imagine a striped Paris café awning, or a large red awning gracefully shading the beer garden of a flower-bedecked Swiss Inn, and you get the idea.

Doesn’t it make you want to do this at your home? The good news is that you can, even if you are in Mississauga or Surrey or St. John's.


An awning is a structure that has traditionally been used to shade a window. It is attached to the outside of a window. It is usually made of waterproof woven material or canvas stretched over an aluminum frame.

These days, awnings can work for a number of different settings, not just for windows. You can shade a terrace, deck or patio with a large retractable awning or provide shade on a balcony or on a large vertical condo window. Ditto for a pool or Jacuzzi. You can shade a glass-topped conservatory or even set up a free-standing shade awning in your yard.

Besides shade and cooling, benefits include energy savings in indoor spaces that are shaded, and protection from sunburn, rain showers and a chilly breeze. Keeping the sun out of your home also means a longer life for upholstered and wood furniture, which will fade out under sunlight over time. Keep in mind that an awning naturally takes advantage of the fact that it is much more efficient to cool a house by shading a window on the outside, before heat even enters the house. And finally, awnings are flexible, allowing you to attach a side flap or even install screens to keep bugs out, if desired.

And does it look sharp, or what? These awnings are a stylish and attractive addition to any home, and can add good looks to traditional spaces as well as contemporary digs. Stripes look wonderfully crisp and nautical, and red, orange or yellow canopies produce a skin-flattering warm tone.

Awnings come in several different types. You can stretch out an awning on a retractable lateral arm, going out as far as 18 feet, and as long as 30 feet. These are meant for patios or decks. A side or drop-arm awning with a roller on top and spring-loaded side arms is meant for balconies or windows.

– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for TV show Arresting Design;

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