Here are some design notes when it comes to modern pergola designs. The most common pergola design is to have decorative and somewhat rounded ends on the beam. The easiest way of creating a more modern pergola is to do away with the decorative ends. In picture (1) the beams still hang over the frame of the pergola but the decorative shape is gone. In pictures (2) (3) and (4) the beams are built within the frame so there are no overhanging parts – creating a sleeker look.
Going Dark: Using darker wood (almost black) creates a more modern look (5) (6), compared to the natural brown tones common with traditional pergolas.
Alternative Materials: Mixing a steel or wrought iron frame with wooden slats creates an ultra contemporary pergola design (7) (8).
Different Styles: The pergola in picture (9) is more of an awning style – there are beams only on the left side while the right side is completely open.
Luxury Touches: Some premium design add-ons include: adding lights (Simple Outdoor Pergola Lighting Ideas), a fan, and having a retractable canopy or motorized slats (Pergola Roofing Design Ideas: From the Natural to the Motorized). 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9