One of the awesome things about DIY means you can dream up wild and crazy projects like this outdoor cabana lounge. I’ve always wanted a lazy lounge space in our backyard and with the help of my friend Ana White my dreams have come true.
Make a backyard retreat space fit for kids or adults. This is a DIY tutorial to build an outdoor cabana lounge space, a relaxing hideout for anyone.
I first spotted this cabana idea in my buildy friend Liz from Smart Girls DIY Instagram feed:
Palapa Inspired Structure
She was on vacation in Mexico and they have these beautiful palapa structures on the beach. Clearly this looks like a perfect vacation destination spot. And of course I want my backyard to feel like a vacation! But looking at that frame and considering the support and angles I knew I needed Ana to step in and sketch up plans. Lucky for us she made the plans!
My goal was to complete this project over the summer. But time has a way of slipping and now summer has turned to Fall. That’s okay. We can still make use of the outdoor cabana lounge and boy is it ever cozy!
I do prefer the cabana lounge with the awning cover but it I took some photos without so you can see the structure. Ana designed the build using lap joints so the beams overlap and intersect then I used hex lag bolts to hold it altogether (similar to the bolts used in my outdoor truss style coffee table).
* This post contains affiliate links below.
The platform deck boards run 8′ so no waste here. Also you have a little walking space in front of the queen size camping air mattress.
- private space
- beach front palapa
- reading nook
It’s a little relaxing space carved out of our backyard. If my kids were younger it would make a great playhouse too. You could even add solid roofing material to make it more waterproof for a playhouse. Or for another playhouse idea – try this open frame idea or this bungalow playhouse.
The awning is a super easy addition. I used 80″ wide Sunbrella awning fabric so it fits the length of the cabana without having to finish the edges. On the ends I made a pocket for 3/4″ steel conduit pipe, fold the raw edge of the fabric over 1/2″ and then 2″ and sew a seam then slide the pipe into the pocket.
The pipe acts as a weight to keep the awning in place and is easily removable. Also you can raise the awning sides to let in more air and light by placing the pipe up on the side post:
Personally I prefer the awning sides down to make it more private.
Cabana Deck Platform
This was my first time building a true deck platform and it won’t be my last. I used the Kreg Deck Jig and you cannot see a single screw head!
- free plans – lumber listed here
- miter saw or circular saw
- measuring tape
- WORX Compact Circular Saw
- drill and drill bits
- lag screws
- Kreg deck jig
- Kreg pocket hole jig
- queen camping air mattress
- 6 yards – 80″ wide Sunbrella awning fabric
Be sure to stop by Ana’s place to get the free plans. Below are some of the steps I took to build this cabana lounge. Scroll down for a few in process building tips and notes.
Making the Lap Joints
It sounded way worse than it actually was. I used my handy WORX Compact Circular Saw to make all the cross cuts.
And then went in with my Rockwell Sonicrafter multi-tool to remove all the little slices.
To join the laps I predrilled a recessed hole then inserted 3/8-Inch x 3-Inch Hex Lag Screws.
Above is the basic frame assembled.
Attach the deck boards using a Kreg Deck Jig. In the photo below you can see how the Kreg 2-Inch 8 Coarse deck screws are buried at an angle into the sides of each board. This keeps your deck surface free from any screw heads.
For the large 4×4 cross supports I opted to use Simpson Strong-Tie post caps which wrap around two sides of each 4×4 making the join strong and tight:
Use pocket holes and Kreg Blue-Kote 2-1/2″ pocket hole screws. Place a scrap piece of 4×4 to act as your spacer and hold the board in place while you attach the headboard slats.
Up on the roof line use a scrap 2×4 and clamp to give your cross support a resting spot while you attach both ends. I work alone so maneuvering and attaching these long supports can be tricky.
To fancy up my outdoor lounge cabana I added clear globe bulb patio string lights. This style of outdoor lights has a small clip on the housing. I hammered in a cord support then slipped the clip through the open space and this allows me to easily remove the lights in the winter.
Thanks for joining me for this outdoor cabana project. Please leave any questions in the comments below and be sure to follow me on social media for sneak peeks, tools and project inspiration:
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Mindi Carwin says
This is sooo much fun!! Amazing job! I better not show my kids yet, they will want it NOW! And that Kreg Deck jig?! AWESOME!!
Thanks Mindi. That deck jig is wonderful especially if you don't want to see screw heads.
So cool, you are so blessed with talent! I could not do it for a million bucks.
Cristina Garay says
Oh my, this is awesome! Pretty soon you're gonna be building an entire house! 😀 You rock!
WOW!!! That totally describes my opinion of your cabana. You amaze me! I can see this bringing your family a lot of pleasure. Children using it as a fort, clubhouse or reading nook and you and hubby having a romantic backyard get-away, a place to discuss your day or make plans for the future (away from the earshot of the kids). You did a beautiful job. I like it better than your prototype 🙂
Thanks Connie. I like to hide in their myself to get away from my kids 😉
How do you keep bugs and critters out?
Hi Paula, The bugs and critters are free to come in. I suppose you could add screening if you’d like.
wow, love this!
I tried all the different links available and could not find a way to download or even read the outdoor cabana plans. I am so intrigued by the idea and the project looks terrific. I just can't get to there from here. Any help would be appreciated.
Plans are here (scroll to the bottom):
How many yards of sunbrella fabric?
I believe I purchased 6 yards.
CCA treated pine?
Mostly pressure treated fir.
Holly Cat says
Would it be easy to make this about two feet taller? I want to hang my yoga trapeze from the top center beam and would like a little more height.
Great idea Holly, yes you could easily increase the height for more clearance.
I’ve just made my outdoor cabana in Lille, north of France.
I got inspired by your & Ana White’s pictures. Thank you for sharing them.
I adapted the dimensions to the materials I found, it’s 240cmx250cm (7.8ft x 8.2ft). Height is about 230cm (7.5 ft).
I wanted to build a cabana for the kids, We thought about it and decided to build an open model.
Here is a picture of it :
Now I just have to cut and lay the fabric.
Thank you for the tips, they really helped me.
Hi Matthieu, it’s beautiful and I love seeing my project ideas built around the world! Great idea for the cement blocking on the base. Thank you for sharing.
Hi. I’m planning on building this as a playhouse for my daughter and looking at the picture it looks like the decking boards are 1x6s but the shopping list has 2x6s. Can you please confirm before i go out and buy the wood?
Hi Evan, I used decking boards (5/4) for the deck portion and 2×6 for the ‘headboard’ area. You could use 1×6 for the deck – cedar may be a good option. Or decking or 2×6 PT. Whatever you desire.
Allison Fiscus says
Are the 2 poles 80 inches as well or a bit longer? I thought you had a list of supplies on you website. I can’t seem to locate them. If I could please get that list or a link to that list.
Hi Allison, The list of supplies is on Ana’s site here: https://www.ana-white.com/woodworking-projects/outdoor-cabana-backyard-retreat I believe the poles are 8′ or maybe a tad shorter.
Travis Johannes says
How long would you say this project takes start to finish?
Hi Travis, I’m estimating it took two full days to complete. Good luck!
Roughly how much do you think this project cost you to build? I know prices will fluctuate from store to store, but do you have a guesstimate on how much you spent on materials?
mike kolek says
The links to the plans are no longer working. Is there a Place i can go to get the plans??
Thanks Mike, I have fixed the links and the plans are here: https://www.ana-white.com/woodworking-projects/outdoor-cabana-backyard-retreat
Hi! I love this so much!! Curious if it would work to use a solid piece of plywood for the flooring instead of boards? Thinking of painting a fun geometric tile as a “floor” for my kids and a solid surface would be preferable not only for that, but also insuring they don’t lose things between the slats. Thanks!
Hi Brooke, Thank you. Yes you could use a solid flooring if your cabana has the awning covering or other type of roof system. The deck boards allow for drainage and with solid plywood you’re susceptible to rot but it all depends on your roof. And definitely use exterior grade plywood. Good luck!
Thank you so much for this post!
I am wondering how many yards of the sunbrella fabric you ended up needing to purchase?
We are planning on building this during our vacation in June!
Hi Holly, I believe I ordered 6 yards which is more than enough for a seam for the pipe and I think I still had some excess. Good luck!