By OCInSite Site Admin | August 03, 2012 1:00 PM
Arising from most every neighborhood are the smells of barbecues grilling, the sounds of kids breaking out in perpetual laughter and the hum of buzzing conversation streaming from backyards.
With summer well under way, backyard barbecues and pool parties are the mainstay of Southern California weekends. Life is meant to be played outside in these parts, with the sun giving life to everything from plants to the person flipping the burgers out back. Yet it comes to be that a bit-o-shade is soon relished when the sun turns from a shining disc to a burning oven as the day progresses.
Completing your backyard with awnings to cool things down, whether the shades are simply stationary or automated to retract, can add more life to the party as well as enhance any living area design. I spoke with Jill Castagna of Castagna Awnings, where she works with her husband, Pedro, a licensed contractor, in customizing awnings for homes. With her happy and hip attitude towards designing special shade coverings for any home situation, covering up took on a whole new meaning with various styles and trends rolling out of homes this summer.
Q: What is the latest and greatest in awnings these days?
A: Seashell Awnings. They are retractable radial sail awnings for residential as well as commercial or retail locations and can cover areas such as inside and outside corners. They originated in Australia and are starting to pick up in popularity with their unique and distinct contemporary look. The design also fits nicely anywhere near or around a marina.
Q: I love the idea of an awning fanning out.
A: It’s an interesting design. It fans out to 90-degree, 180-degree, 270-degree or 360-degrees and works on a magnetic locking technology (MagnaLOC) with a pulley rope system inside. It’s all done with tension and magnets so there is no motorization necessary. It’s a really great system. These awnings are engineered to withstand wind. But before any damage can occur to the awning, the magnets safely disengage and return the awning to its closed, locked position. For rainy days the sail material is waterproof so outdoor areas remain dry and useable.
Q: What’s the structure made of?
A: It’s high grade heavy gauge aluminum and makes for a very strong and durable product. The vinyl sail is PVC coated and has fibers that go through it so it won’t crack. These awnings are really designed to stay open but if you’re away from home and nasty weather happens, they retract automatically. They are very easy to clean, just hose them off. We just finished installing some of these awnings at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles. They can be up to 30-40 feet so they do work well in commercial retail settings. And of course they can really jazz up a home.
Q: What other popular awnings are out there?
A: The see through screen drop shades are a big hit with all the homes that have large windows with killer views but don’t want the sun to damage the floors or furniture. Best part is you can still see out of them but anyone outside can’t see in. The screens come in 90% and 130% UV block. For instance we’ve taken an existing patio cover and made a gazebo by adding the screen drop shades to block the wind and provide sun protection. They can also be used instead of full covered awnings because any type of condensation such as dewy mornings can weep out and yet the shades still block the sun’s UV rays. The screens can be installed inside the home as well if you don’t want to cover up any architectural structure like pretty molding and such. Of course the benefit of putting the screens on the outside keeps the windows from heating up in the summer thus reducing energy usage needed to cool down the house. The screens can be broken up in sections and are fully retractable either manually or motorized.
Q: Naturally motorized seems like the way to go, but are they noisy and prone to break-down?
A: Absolutely not. These are whisper quiet. We use top of the line Somy technology that has a facility right here in Irvine. Included are options such as hand-held remotes, wall switches, timers, and sensors for sun, wind or temperature. If you already have awnings installed, you might want to have them motorized. Create a comfortable and enjoyable outdoor living space, increase energy savings, and find protection from the sun all with the touch of a button.
Q: Your awning business is a little different than others. How is that?
A: Are expertise is making specially designed awnings that just can’t be bought out of a store. We work out design issues and get the right look and functionality needed for each home. We had one customer that wanted a little more privacy from his home down by the beach. He didn’t want an ordinary railing on his balcony so we installed a canvas one and it added a nice touch to his home and worked very well with the architectural design. The canvas can also be used on gates as well. They are made of Sunbrella fabrics used in awnings that come in a variety of colors and styles and can be coordinated to match furniture. We’ve also custom made a canopy to cover a BBQ area and a children’s play area with the Sunbrella fabric. Currently I am working on a home where the customer needs more privacy in the backyard since the homes are very close to each other. We ended up creating this gigantic curtain some 23 feet wide and 13 feet high where we are now working out how to bolt it down. It’s all working out fabulously.
Q: What if someone already has an existing patio cover.
A: There’s a perfect application for those with an existing patio cover. We simply install panels, Roman shades with cable wires to create more cover when needed. We can also use the screen fabric to cover the patio from the sun yet still give that open airy feel.
Q: And of course there are awnings specifically aimed at creating a look.
A: Yes. We install a lot of wrought iron accents that add a lot of curbside appeal with a Mediterranean look. These awnings compliment existing wrought iron accents and add charm and a nice ambiance with various styles such as scrolls inside, straight or bent, all custom made to each window. Sometimes a house just needs that little extra touch and a decorative awning could be it.