Most of us mortals would like nothing better than to have it made in the shade, right?

So go buy an awning."There's just a romantic charm about a canvas awning," says Rick Ansay, owner of Awning Co. of America, in Denver. "They were traditionally done on mansions and country clubs. I think that aura still remains; there's something high-class about a canvas awning."

What about those aluminum awnings you sometimes see covering windows and patios?

Strictly passe.

"In the 1960s and '70s, aluminum awnings were the rage," Ansay says. "They were new, they were relatively inexpensive and they had a variety of baked enamel finishes. Now they're somewhat dated, a trend that ran its course."

One reason is that, unlike translucent fabric awnings, which admit a gauzy, filtered light, aluminum is opaque, rendering the covered area dark and not so warm and friendly. Two, the baked-enamel finish tends to fade and need repainting.

Finally, while hail hitting a canvas awning usually experiences what Ansay calls "the trampoline effect," hail doesn't bounce harmlessly off aluminum, exacting a denting, enamel-chipping toll.

So canvas now constitutes the lion's share of awnings sold in recent years. Incidentally, when awning companies talk about "canvas," they're not referring to cotton fabric. Today's "canvas" is made of spun acrylic - and for good reason.

The cotton stuff comes in a veritable palate of colors, but acrylic isn't far behind, boasting a galaxy of stripes and solids, such as buttercup, sea spray, coral and jockey red. For the record, Ansay says, "Teal is the color of the '90s."

Additionally, acrylic is more hospitably translucent than cotton. And whereas cotton can mildew, rot and fade rapidly, acrylic does not. Virtually all acrylic "blankets" carry a five-year warranty, although most last a lot longer - at least 10 years, says Rick Pease of Innovative Openings, another Denver awning outlet.

"They're especially good for their resistance to UV (ultraviolet light) degradation," Pease says.

By keeping the sun and its UV rays out of your home, awnings also keep out the heat, making a home a lot more temperate in summer. Additionally, an awning helps keep sunlight from fading carpets and furniture.

There's also the fact that, as Ansay says, "they beautify the interior of your home by bringing the color of the awning into the living room. They sort of lend a glow."

That is, of course, unless you buck the trend and put opaque aluminum awnings over your windows, which would probably cost about $150 more per window covering than the good old-fashioned fabric awning, where the fabric is affixed to a hinged frame so you can raise or lower it. These go for about $50 for each foot of width they cover.

Windows aside, any place where backyard decks and patios are practically mandated by law, awnings are an awesome trend. But what kind of awning for your deck or patio? There are two essential models, the stationary and the re-tract-able.

The former is built on a steel frame anchored into the ground or the joists of a deck and sporting 1-by-2-inch steel tube rafters over which the fabric blanket is laced. Traditionally, the blanket is taken down in the fall and stored through the winter, although these days, Ansay says, "I'd estimate that about 80 percent of the people who have them don't take them down."

Instead, many opt for retractable awnings that retract onto a roller bar. And while the concept of a retractable awning might be associated with the quaint image of the old small-town druggist coming out every morning and cranking open his shop's awning, they can be considerably more high-tech.

For $500 or so, they can be fitted with a motor, so a push of a button extends or withdraws the awning blanket. (Crank retractables can be retrofitted with motors.)

If you're really a high-tech freak, you won't stop at a mere motor. Instead, you'll buy a computerized system with a built-in light sensor and anemometer, which measures wind speed. After you program your system, the awning will unfurl when the sensor detects that the sunlight is bright enough and retract when the anemometer senses that the wind is kicking up. Wind, you see, is the enemy of retractable awnings.

"They can't usually tolerate more than 25-to-35 mph winds," Ansay says, explaining that the design of the frame - and the fact that it's made of lightweight aluminum, not steel - renders it more vulnerable to gusts.

Retractables for, say, a 10-by-20-foot deck (as close to a norm as there is) run from $3,000 to over $4,000, depending, Pease says, "on how many bells and whistles you want." A stationary awning, by comparison, runs from $12 to $15 a square foot, which covers fabric, frame, hardware and installation, making a 10-by-20-foot awning run from $2,400 to $3,000.

If you're yearning for an awning, better not procrastinate. Most companies say their busy season coincides with the onset of daylight-saving time - April 5 this year - and meanders through the summer. During peak season, the normal three- to four-week interim between placing your order and construction can be extended by several weeks.