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Shopping for Sunshades - The New York Times

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During a heat wave, we could all use some relief from the sun.

So if you’re lucky enough to have your own outdoor space — a deck, a terrace, a poolside patio, even a tiny balcony — don’t forget the one crucial ingredient: a little shade.

“There are very few people who want to be outside without some sort of sunshade,” said Ellen Hamilton, the founder of Hamilton Design Associates, a firm that designs urban homes and country estates.

Adding sun protection is easy, given the range of choices available: not just umbrellas, but also shade sails, cabanas, tents and other alternatives.

Or you could opt for a permanent solution — say, a pergola covered with grapevine or bougainvillea. The only downside to depending on plants for your shade, Ms. Hamilton noted, is that it’s no quick fix: “You just have to wait for them to grow.”

How large should an umbrella be? Larger ones provide more shade but can be difficult to adjust. “So if you really want an umbrella to be flexible,” Ms. Hamilton said, “you're better off choosing a smaller scale one.”

Will you always want the shade in the same place? Umbrellas with heavy bases are best left on a terrace or deck, but cabanas and tents can be packed up and moved from the lawn to the pool or beach.

Can your sunshade resist the wind? Weighted bases and strong supports will help keep things in place, but wind can wreak havoc on even the highest quality products, Ms. Hamilton said, so it’s important to close and secure them when they’re not in use.

Treated canvas tent with fringe and laminated wood poles

$299 at Business & Pleasure Co.:

Small-scale umbrella and weighted base with hidden casters

$499 at CB2: 800-606-6252 or

Sunbrella fabric umbrella with powder-coated aluminum pole

$1,298 (base sold separately, from $348) at Serena & Lily: 866-597-2742 or

Adjustable cantilevered umbrella with aluminum ribs and pole

From $539 (base sold separately, $199) at Bluu:

Collapsible polyester cabana with removable side and back panels

Shopping for Sunshades - The New York Times

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