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Contrary to popular belief, parasols are not merely useful on a super sunny day when the sunrays glow warm on your skin and your vision is a little impaired by the bright light. Parasols can in fact be useful in a range of conditions and can even be used during the evening when the sun has gone in, to create a cosy and welcoming sheltered space. Characterised as a big outdoor umbrella, often crafted from a thick canvas material with a sturdy frame made from metal or wood, we tend to see parasols dotted around resorts and along beaches, as well as throughout both rustic and modern homes up and down the country. How do parasols work? The main concept of a parasol is that it creates shaded areas via the means of a big umbrella. While many homeowners buy and choose outdoor tables with centre-mounted parasols which slot through a hole in the table and provide a very centralised area of shade, there are other more modern versions which rely on a hanging structure rather than a central pole – with the umbrella hooking onto a curved base frame to create a seamless illusion of shading without the pole impending the overall appearance.

Using parasols as an aesthetic accessory

As well as being functional and practical come rain or shine, parasols also have the power to really elevate the aesthetic value of a space – creating a cosy and welcoming sheltered corner of an outdoor space which is ideal for gatherings or a simple sunny day in the garden. While many modern homeowners opt for very neutral parasols with natural material frames and uncoloured canvasing, there are those who use their parasol to add colour and vibrance to an otherwise quite plain and flat space. We urge buyers to choose a parasol with a lighter and slightly thinner material covering, if for no other reason than because this allows the sun to be shielded without losing all of the light – meaning the space is not lost to darkness. As the sun drops, we recommend wrapping the parasol with fairy lights or else hanging a solar light from it centre, so that even in the evening the parasol adds to the aesthetic value of the space.

Things to consider when buying a parasol

Before buying a parasol, it is important to understand how much space you have to cover. Unlike an adjustable garden shade, the covering of a parasol cannot be adjusted or altered – rather, the umbrella is either open or it’s not, meaning that the user cannot minimise or extend its shade. This means it is important not to purchase a parasol that is too big, as you may end up with very little uncovered garden space. Another thing to consider is the material and construction of your parasol, as this can mean the difference between a parasol being weatherproof or not. If your parasol frame is not strong enough, it will not withstand gusts and wind – so make sure that the overall structure is solid and sturdy if you want it to be able to live outside. And finally, think about the placement of your parasol – whether it acts as a continuation of your indoor space, sheltering the door outside and the space around it, or as a shaded area further down into your garden or outdoor area. The best parasols are tall enough that they create a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor, but not so tall that you lose the overall effect of the cosy and welcoming space beneath their shade.

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