Home & Garden

How to create a peaceful pool cabana at home

Unadulterated bliss your neighbors will envy

A pool cabana is a peaceful haven at home on hot summer days by the pool. Credit: Getty Images / velvetocean

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If you’re lounging beside your backyard pool with just a beach chair and towel, you’re doing it wrong. Very wrong.

When your summer cool off sessions involve a dip and not just a blast of A/C air, the space you enjoy deserves to shine like the sun. It’s time to embrace this coveted spot next to glistening water. So, up the ante on enjoying your outdoor time poolside. Lose the collapsible chair, and create a pool cabana.

What is a cabana, exactly?

cabana vs gazebo
Credit: Getty Images/ Alkalyne / Kevin Miller

A cabana, left, typically has curtains or coverings for its walls, while a gazebo, right, does not.

A cabana (from the Spanish word for hut) differs from an open-on-all-sides gazebo in that it has three lightweight “walls.” Where the fourth would be there’s open space, always facing a pool.

You’re not at a seaside resort, but it’s OK to act like you are, so consider this your personal escape to design as you like.

Whether you take a Moroccan-style approach with lanterns, layered rugs, and swing chairs, or create a bohemian getaway with a living green wall, hanging plants, rattan seating, and a lot of pottery, interior designer Shelby Greene says “a cabana gives you an opportunity to create the ultimate outdoor oasis. Adding different texture elements enhances the outdoor experience.”

Lounging just got comfier

dream cabana
Credit: Getty Images / Anna_Om

This idyllic cabana features lots of comfy seating and faces not only a pool, but the ocean.

Plastic, three-fold reclining chairs are great for the beach, but when furnishing your pool cabana, go big or go home.

Greene, who works for home décor chain and retailer Living Spaces, suggests adding swing chairs, loungers, sofas, and, even, floor cushions over an outdoor rug, to create a sense of ultimate coziness.

If you’re aiming for a more indoor feel to your outdoor pool area, consider rattan options with plush, outdoor-safe cushions.

Create romance for nighttime swims

cabana at night
Credit: Getty Images / Relentless_one

Relax in your outdoor pool cabana after enjoying a night swim.

Let the moon and the stars inspire you. String lights and lanterns create a romantic, soft glow after the sun goes down. You can hang them inside a huge umbrella, drape them atop curtain rods, or place them anywhere you might want a little ambiance shining down on your evening swims.

“You can also paint mason jars and add tea light candles for pretty accent lighting,” says Greene.

Pick your level of privacy

Because a pool cabana boasts “walls,” you can turn up the privacy quotient as high as you dare.

For tons of solitude, Greene suggests using thick outdoor curtains and sheers that allow light in while also keeping out bugs and debris. Read a book, take a nap, or feel the breeze on your body—no one can see, and that’s part of the point.

If you feel that air flow might be missing within your cabana’s confines, Greene adds, “In different seasons, you can opt for a space heater or a fan to keep the air moving.”

Decorate your pool cabana—and think outside the box

cabana lanterns
Credit: Getty Images / haveseen

Hanging lanterns in your cabana offers atmospheric lighting once the sun goes down.

When it comes to décor, the world is your oyster—speaking of, why not use glass jars full of oyster shells for a coastal twist.

Greene offers up even more décor tips, such as using old mason jars or candle jars to create a unique green wall by filling them with either succulents or air plants that require nothing more than a little peat moss. Create macramé hanging nets to suspend your plants. Add a fountain to create a soothing atmosphere.

Don’t stop living cabana life when aprés-swim time is over. You have the freedom to get even more creative with how you use your space.

“Your cabana can be more than just for lounging,” says Greene. “You can [incorporate] an outdoor bar or kitchen with a brick pizza oven for entertaining.”

Consider offering guests a way to imbibe without leaving their cozy lounge chairs in search of a drink. A sleek iteration of a traditional water tower, the Fillup keeps the equivalent of two bottles of wine (or four plastic bottles of water) chilled. Consider adding a mini-fridge to the mix to keep pieces of fruit cold and for the taking.

If you have guests over for a full day at the pool, keep them entertained when they aren’t in the water with some lounge-worthy reads. Fill galvanized buckets or small outdoor shelving units with magazines or paperback novels.

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