Bells and Whistles

While not every gazebo needs to be wired, it's a popular option. Most homeowners don't want to limit the usefulness of a structure that can serve as a dining room, reading room, or space for entertaining.

When it comes to electrical wiring, consider not only the best way to illuminate the inside of the gazebo, but also what will make it most attractive when seen from a distance. Swimming pool lights installed in the floor can provide uplighting that bolsters the gazebo's role as a garden feature, as can exterior lighting. An outlet can power a reading lamp, a blender for mixing drinks, or a plug-in sound system. An overhead ceiling fan provides a cooling breeze.

Screening the sides will deter mosquitoes from joining your dinner parties, while adding removable windows can extend the gazebo's use in cooler weather. Sliding lattice-panel sides provide privacy screening as needed.

In warm climates, the gazebo is often built complete with a hot tub. “But from a design perspective, it's a poor choice,” says Ed Repak, director of construction and drafting for Archadeck, a custom deck and gazebo builder. “In my experience, the gazebo becomes a lawn ornament covering the hot tub. But I've been in one where the guy had run cable for an outdoor TV mounted on a post. He loved it. It was his own realm.” Further proof that a gazebo's uses are limited only by the owner's imagination.

Building From a Kit

Perhaps the most popular option for putting up a gazebo these days is buying a prefab kit. Pieces come precut, often with the largest components (roof, floor, sides) preassembled in sections, no sawing required. Less expensive kits are made from pressure-treated fir or pine, while higher-end models are made of weather- and rot-resistant cedar. All fasteners (stainless or galvanized steel) should be included. Thanks to precision cutting and fitting, kits can deliver extremely well-engineered structures. "Because they're milled and built in the controlled environment of a factory, the quality control is very good," says Christopher Peeples, owner of Vixen Hill, which makes cedar kits of all shapes and sizes.

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