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Backyard Pool Upgrade with Cabana and Change Room

Cabana hut for the pool
The swimming pool BEFORE shot; there will be and AFTER shot some time in the new year.

Building a cabana at the rear of the upscale residential property beside an inground swimming pool makes the whole amenity much friendlier and even better suited to entertaining family and friends. A cabana is a specially designed support structure that’s purpose-built for amplifying poolside gatherings.

Cabana pool houses offer an inviting place to sit and watch the kids swim while enjoying a meal and good conversation. The building also provides some shelter from the sun, wind, and rain that so often threaten afternoon outings. This shelter seen in the pictures has hydro, Wi-Fi and three types of lighting fixtures. Depending on the homeowner’s occupation, and the weather, it could become a home office for an afternoon.

Redwood timbers are generally used for Cabanas here in Canada.

Because of the posh furniture and lighting fixtures, the building will look sharp during the day and fantastic at night. There are flood lights, decorative LEDs and the option to add overhead incandescent fixtures and sconces. Mosquito netting can also be added as removable screens or loose drapes with Velcro fasteners. With some shelves and drapes, cabanas are good for creating more storage and privacy.

In the photos below, you can see the block-wall backbone of what will become a stone skirt around the base. Also visible is the trench that’s been dug for drainage, away from the pool. The base will be a concrete pad below real wood flooring that’s loosely spaced to allow a quarter inch gab between the floor boards.

Redwood is a premium building material that’s often selected for exterior projects. This conifer species has a chemical inside the pores that makes it weather resistant and insect resistant and it’s slower to rot. Redwood will last longer than most other types of wood when exposed to the elements. This makes it a good choice for almost any outdoor application and it can also be used inside the home.

What is a Cabana?

The word Cabana comes to us from 19th century Spain. It’s from the modern Spanish word cabaña, which is from the Latin capana, or cavana which means cabin. Somewhere in the last two hundred years however, water was added. Now it means a structure by the beach or pool. The cabin can have three closed walls but one wall must be open on the side facing the ocean, or any body of water, in order to be defined as a cabana.

Traditionally, Cabana’s were small affairs which might have had a day bed instead of a table and chairs, as is more popular today. The cabana of old had a roof made of natural materials such as palm fronds or fabric and the sides were open. Over time the cabana style migrated to include fabric curtains for the sides which facilitate more shade and privacy for the wooden framed hut.

Today, cabanas come in many different styles and designs. From their origins on sandy oceanfront beaches across the Caribbean, one might now encounter the modern version here in Canada at poolside parties, or at resort spas, or as mini-bars and beverage dispensaries in swanky outdoor functions. In summary: to be a cabana, the structure must face a body of water.

The Poolscape Makeover: The Cabana Adds Form, Function, And Value

The pool gets a new liner in the springtime, and will certainly ready for June, July, August which are the swimming months.

The pool house addon would look rather lonely without the cabana in the foreground. The interior of the changeroom will likely be painted and there will be mats on the floor, but otherwise remain unfinished. It’s just for changing clothes and for storing cleaning supplies and vacuum attachments, swimming pool noodles and watersports items like volleyballs, nets, masks and flippers.

How are Cabanas different from Pergolas?

Pergolas are outdoor buildings erected with no reference to a nearby water body. Pergolas are often ornate structures with beautiful and innovatively-designed architectural features. They stand on wood or stone-built columns, and are either freestanding or built into the home but not beside a pool or beach because then they’d be called Cabanas.

The word pergola comes to us from Latin pergere which meant to ‘come or go forward’. The 17th century Italian word pergula originally meant a “school, or lecture room,” but gradually came to refer to a ‘projecting roof type shed, a booth or vine arbor’, in that order. Throughout the 18th century and into the 19th century, a pergola was the name of a latticework structure for climbing vines. Today, pergolas are designed to add shade and dimension to a backyard space. They might contain a bench from which to survey a garden, a bird bath or a fountain. Pergolas still frequently have trestle for climbing vines.

The cement blocks will form the spine of a limestone skirt to be added around the base of the structure.

How are Cabanas different from Gazebos?

Gazebos are outdoor shade structures with solid roofs and open sides are often enclosed with screen to keep-out birds and mosquitos. A gazebo can be raised off the ground and have a wood floor, or it can be built flat on a concrete base. The signature characteristic of the gazebo is its hexagonal, sexangular or octagonal shape.

A cabana is often mistaken for a gazebo because they can appear rather similar, and unlike other variants the gazebo is frequently found near water. The only real difference is how the Cabana has walls or fabric cloth on three sides (while the fourth is open to the water), and the gazebo is generally open on all fronts and big enough to comfortably set a picnic table.

How We Build a Cabana?

First, we set the posts. To ensure the cabana prevails in its perpetual battle with the wind, it’s important to properly set the posts. The holes are fourteen-inches wide and two-feet deep. Next, we pour quick-setting concrete in the bottom of each hole and set a 6×6 redwood post inside. It’s important to place a level against the post and check it remains perfectly vertical as we add concrete around it. There’s one-hundred-and-twenty pounds of concrete in each posthole. All the posts line up to create a perfect square or rectangle.

Using 4-inch heavy-duty wood screws, we attach 2×10 rough redwood crossbeams on the outside of the posts to box this structure in. We can adjust this height to suit anyone’s preference. Then we double up the supports by adding 2×10 crossbeams on the inside as well on the front and back of the cabana.

Using 3-inch heavy-duty wood screws, we attach 2×4 redwood planks across the top of the cabana, securing them to the inner crossbeams. Space them approximately 12 inches apart. This will provide a sturdy roof frame for the roof which might be an exotic material like bamboo or a simulated thatch.

The same style of stone seen on the skirt around the house will be used behind the cabana.

Other options that can enhance the value of your pool cabana include a light and fan combo for warm summer nights, and tile, marble, or granite countertops.

Cabana Fashion Clothing – The Beach House Inspired Clothing style

In the 1960’s, Cabana Sets was a name given to men’s beach clothes, swimming trunks sold with matching shirts. These were upscale garments made for relaxing by the pool or on the beach, and they were very popular. These outfits were often tropical themed or had ancient Mayan temple patterns as seen in the example to the left. They were deliberately colourful to give businessmen a break from their boring grey flannel suits.

Modern cabanas can have fridges, sinks and marble counter tops.  Pool parties are easier and more three-dimensional with a well-appointed cabana; the bar can be as simple or extravagant as the setting. Add a refrigerator, or a built-in grill for more functionality. Shelves under the bar hold glassware, poker chips and card games or anything to make hanging out by the pool more fun.

Some of the vintage 1960’s flavor still inhabits the word cabana, and these little buildings are coming into vogue again as popular choices for upgrading the landscaping around an inground swimming pool; the cabana is the centerpiece of the backyard poolscape.

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