The pergola - a romantic notion defined as an arbor, bower or trellis that has been treated architecturally - can be brought inside to make a private environment, an alcove that will provide a separate place for sleeping, sitting, dining or having a tall glass of iced tea.

One of the most attractive real outside pergolas I have ever seen was built beside a tennis court and had redwood sides and roof, with a set of redwood benches built into the sides. Summer vines covered it with green and flowers each season, and it was a delectable, shady place to watch others play.

Pergolas forms indoors can be seating, sleeping or dining environments. In fact, pergolas can be so versatile that you can build them into any room of your home. The pergola is a natural way to separate living from dining areas in a one-room combination, for example, where there is no wall or other partition.

The high open work back of the pergola can surround the dining table and chairs and can provide the look of an entirely separate space. With a bit of wire and some electrical tape, you can even wire a Japanese lantern inside the pergola to provide a pleasant glow of light over the dining table.

A breakfast room could be the perfect place for a pergola, especially if the breakfast place is actually part of a kitchen. What better way to set aside the dining area than to surround it with a wooden pergola that has been stained to match the kitchen cabinets, or that has been painted all white? You can fill in the sides with a built-in wooden table stained to match the pergola frame, and with benches covered with bright-colored foam cushions.

Pergolas can be used as seating elements to create a draft-free private settee or bench at the front door, much like our forebears used highback furniture. A pergola in pole oak, fitted with a thick foam pad and covered in a raw natural silk, with about three dozen elegant pillows of varied sizes covered in different natural shades of the same raw silk, can make a positively elegant divider.

In a home I designed, two young girls wanted a pergola for their bed. This was a perfect solution, since the room was long and narrow and the only wall long enough for a bed.

I designed a wood pergola deep enough to incorporate both beds sideshort wall at the end of the room - was to narrow for two side-by-side beds, ways, one one a level higher than the other. Though the beds are side by side, their different heights give a feeling of separation in the narrow space. Reading lamps for nighttime novels are attached to the wood posts of the pergola, and plant baskets hang from the upper crossbraces. I used a fluffy white rug on the natural oak floor, white and green sheets and many throw pillows in different green-and-white patterns.

The pergola itself is painted white, while the other walls are painted the background green of the sheets.