Three or 4 years ago we built a twig arbor for the grapevine, training the vine across the living room picture window. It made a huge difference in comfort, shading much of the summer sun from streaming in that southwestern facing window, but allowing lots of sun in the winter, and creating a great spot for birds to perch. This winter, the twig arbor broke, and we knew we needed to construct a more permanent one early in the spring before the vine leafed out.
While we wanted shade, we didn't want to impede the view in any way, so we carefully planned to keep the arbor posts in between the picture window and the two flanking windows. We left about 10 inches between the house and the arbor, room enough to get in there and paint, etc. We made the arbor 30" wide at the posts, with the slats at the top 42".
The most challenging part of the job was leveling the posts and then and squaring them to the house --not difficult, just very fiddly. We attached the 2 beams to the back posts before setting the posts in the ground; in retrospect, we should have set all four posts first. Once we set the posts, attaching the brackets, beams and slats was not too difficult, mostly just awkward.
When we were looking at lumber, Dan's keen eye spotted deck railing balusters, all cut to 42" long with an angled end --perfect. That saved us lots of work, ripping pieces of 2"x4" into 1"x2"slats. All told, we probably could have built it in a day, but we had a few other chores to squeeze in, too, there are just so many sunny hours after all!
I begrudged the hours this project demanded during our first spring-like weather, but now that it's done I'm glad to have it, and it looks great. With the grapevine up and out of the way, the Golden Glow in front of the window air conditioner will effectively screen that until the shrubs I'll be planting become tall enough. The arbor will really make this area look better in addition to cooling the house; it will look even better when we stain it next year, maybe purple??