Swimming Pool Cabana Design To Transform Your Outdoor Space


Source: Recent Milestone Project

The indoor-outdoor living trend has definitely gained popularity in recent years. Just as you can incorporate nature into your indoor spaces, you can extend the indoors outside by creating outdoor ‘rooms’.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is with a creative swimming pool cabana design.

If you have space around your pool and are looking to add some oomph to your outdoor space, there is no better way to do it than with a swimming pool cabana. These covered lounges are versatile spaces and you can use them for entertaining or spending a nice, quiet evening with family.

There is a huge variety of cabana styles from modern and contemporary to Mediterranean and classic.  

Dive in to discover what type of swimming pool cabana design will work with your landscape.

Source: Recent Milestone Project

Why Have A Swimming Pool Cabana in Your Home?

There are many reasons to include a swimming pool cabana in your landscape design.

To make it work for you, you first need to decide on what you want to use your cabana for. This will dictate most other design decisions. Let’s take a look at some of the uses of swimming pool cabanas in landscapes.

For Entertainment

If you have a pool, chances are that you spend a good amount of time lounging in and around it. A well-designed cabana can really dress-up your outdoor swimming pool area and is a great place to entertain. It provides a comfortable, shaded space to maximize  enjoyment of your pool.

Swimming pool cabanas also extend the time that you can spend poolside or in your garden, especially during hot summer months.

Cabanas are great for entertaining guests. You can include a screen or television to enjoy televised games and special events.

If space permits, you could also incorporate a mini-bar for enjoying drinks by the pool. This way, you don’t need to go into the house everytime you want something to drink. Combine this with built-in seating, lounge beds or day beds and you have the ultimate relaxation zone that you and your guests can use year round.

For Outdoor Dining

In Dubai, we are lucky to enjoy warm weather all throughout the year. Hence, people love eating outdoors in their gardens. A swimming pool cabana design can include a dining table for al-fresco dining, particularly on warm summer evenings.

You could design a cooling system, with fans or air-conditioning, for year-round comfort.

Lighting can also enhance your swimming pool cabana design. Use string lights, light fixtures mounted on posts or pendant lamps for a more festive vibe.

You can dine outdoors with guests or just use the cabana for everyday family dining. There is something magical about enjoying good food under the stars, surrounded by nature!

If you have the space and really want to go all-out with the outdoor dining concept, you could think about an outdoor kitchen, with a fridge, storage, built-in barbeque and any other features that would enhance your outdoor dining experience.

Source: Recent Milestone Project

As A Backyard Changing Area

A swimming pool cabana design can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. If you hate the idea of children or guests running into your home with wet swimming suits, include a shower area, bathroom and changing room in your cabana design.

This way, people can go in and out of the pool as often as they like without ever needing to go into the house. However, this would need a considerably larger area.

To Store Swimming Pool Equipment

A larger swimming pool cabana is also a good place to store pool equipment and maintenance supplies. If your cabana sits close to the property line, you could have a storage space for your swimming pool supplies and equipment with access from the rear of the structure, via the setbacks. However, keep in mind that most swimming pool equipment, especially pumps, can be noisy.

Where To Locate a Cabana

Not all cabanas need to be adjacent to the swimming pool. The primary use of your cabana will dictate where you want to locate it. If you are going to use it mainly for outdoor dining, locate it closer to the kitchen in the house.

If the primary use for your cabana is more for lounging by the pool, then it makes sense to locate it closer to the swimming pool.

Most swimming pool cabanas are generally located adjacent to the pool. They could be as informal as a tented structure with fabric walls or more formal with built walls enclosing three sides. They may be designed at a higher level than the surrounding pool coping, might be at pool level or could even be sunken.

Raised cabanas are usually more formal looking while those at pool paving level are more seamlessly integrated into the design.

You can design a sunken cabana next to an infinity edge pool that spills over into an acrylic or glass trough. This then becomes a viewing feature from the sunken pool cabana.

If you want to cover a shallow children’s play area or baja step in the swimming pool, the roof structure of the cabana could extend out into the pool for adequate cover. However, in our years of designing pool cabanas, we have found that pergolas that overhang pools are a nightmare to maintain.

This is mainly due to birds that sit on the pergolas; their waste and debris clogs pool filters and can become a real problem for owners to keep clean.

You can also use pergolas to shade standalone jacuzzis and baby pools. In this case, the posts would rest well away from the edges of the jacuzzi or baby pool, providing full coverage.

Zoning Guidelines

Depending on where you live, you might have some design restrictions on the size, type and location of your cabana.

In Dubai, the building authority usually does not permit you to build a structure right next to property line walls. This is a protective measure for wall footings.

Therefore, you will need to have a minimum setback from your property walls. Many housing associations also have height restrictions to stipulate how visible your roof  is above the property line wall.

If you don’t take these into consideration at the design phase itself, it can lead to delays in getting permits and approvals. This will end up costing you a lot of time.

Source: Recent Milestone Project

Views From The House

Once you’ve decided on the purpose of your swimming pool cabana and taken into account zoning guidelines, the next thing to think about is views from the house.

The pool cabana is a built structure and will be prominent in your landscape. Therefore, it is important that you establish a strong visual connection with the house by using a similar or complementary swimming pool cabana design.

One way to do this is to duplicate materials used on the house, in the cabana design. So if your house has exterior grade wood or stone on its elevation, you could repeat these materials in the cabana for a cohesive design.

If your living room or dining area window looks out onto the swimming pool, locate the cabana so that it is centered on the window. This way you can enjoy looking out at the pool house even when indoors.  

Planting Considerations

Think about how your pool cabana is framed when viewed. Is it a standalone structure surrounded by hardscape or would it look better framed by trees and plants?

To soften the look, we suggest surrounding the cabana with planting. Trees can offer much needed shade, while planting could make the cabana feel like a natural extension of the landscape.

The planting style should match the style and vibe of the overall property design including the architecture and the landscape.

You could use taller plants to screen the swimming pool from neighboring houses to provide privacy. Design your planting to provide interest even if there are some months of the year that you may not use the pool and the cabana.

Another thing to consider is the orientation of the cabana. Is your cabana always going to shade the pool? You may not want this if you enjoy swimming under the warm rays of the sun.

Therefore, consider placing your cabana centered on the long length of the pool or at the shorter end of the pool to avoid shadows.  Placing it at the shorter end will also extend the visual length of the swimming pool area.

Source: Recent Milestone Project

Size Of Your Pool Cabana

It is important for a swimming pool cabana design to suit available space. You don’t want your cabana to dominate your entire garden, but rather add to its charm and beauty.

If you have a smaller backyard, opt for an open structure without solid walls to allow for easier integration into your landscape. In this case, your cabana could be as simple as a pergola covered structure with some lounge chairs and moveable furniture.

Most people today opt for trendy, mobile furniture for greater flexibility rather than built-in seating. You can find plenty of options for furniture here.

At the other end of the spectrum, a cabana designed with seating, a mini-bar and an outdoor kitchen would need considerable space. This type of walled structure would need a permanent roof structure . It should also be well nestled in planting to prevent it from taking over the entire backyard.

In general, cabanas range from 5m x 4m to 8m x 5m excluding bathrooms and changing rooms. These dimensions can vary depending on the features you want to incorporate into your swimming pool cabana design.

Outdoor Swimming Pool Cabana Design Styles

The cabana is an important part of the landscape so you cannot design it in isolation. For maximum effect, it should complement the style of the house and the garden. Below is a quick summary of the different styles of cabana design you could consider.

Modern Contemporary Cabanas

Like the architectural style, modern, contemporary cabanas are simple with clean profiles and minimal adornment.

Use a calm, neutral color palette and add color with accents such as striped or solid cushion seats and covers. You could even add bold plants as natural accents. Concrete, wood and glass are popular materials for contemporary designs as they are simple, trendy and true to form.

Contemporary cabanas, if enclosed with walls, might have light colored wall planes complemented by monolithic flooring, for a more open and airy feel.

Classic Cabanas

Classic cabanas are defined by more organic lines and might incorporate classic curves such as arches.

They often feature more traditional materials such as stone and wood and tend to blend more into their natural surroundings. If covered by a pergola, the end detail of pergola rafters might incorporate a curved profile.

Classic cabanas generally use more earthy color palettes owing to the use of natural materials in their construction. You could also train a vine over your pergola for an informal, natural look.

Mediterranean Cabanas

Mediterranean cabanas are more casual in style with free-flowing edges. They feature an earthy palette with vibrant pops of color.

A Mediterranean swimming pool cabana design might incorporate colorful tile detailing, textured stucco walls, stone flooring and a tiled roof, surrounded by olive trees and a rambling bougainvillea.

Asian-inspired Cabanas

Asian inspired cabanas borrow from Asian cultures and principles, using materials that are found in nature. Use rich varieties of wood, thatch and bamboo to create a specific vibe that will complement the architecture and style of your home and landscape.

Japanese cabanas place high importance on preserving views of the landscape and might have glass walls that open up to the swimming pool. Thai cabanas might use bamboo screens ,and thatched roofs to make you feel like you’re beachside at a resort in Thailand.

Source: Recent Milestone Project

Types of Roofs For Swimming Pool Cabanas

There are many different ways to cover your swimming pool cabana. The type of cover you choose might depend on several factors; the size of your cabana, the design style and personal preference will all play a part in the type of covering for your pool cabana.

Here we take a look at roofing options available for different styles of swimming pool cabana design.

Open Design Fixed Pergolas

Pergolas are flat roofs that you can choose to cover cabanas. They are typically supported on a four post system. You can opt for wood or metal for your pergola, depending on the look and style you are going for. The roofing grid of a pergola is usually an open grid of wooden rafters, vinyl or metal panels.

Wooden Pergolas

Wooden pergolas can be traditional or modern in design. Traditional pergolas usually have rafters with intricate end profiles that rest on top of a beam supported on four posts.

You can opt to cover the rafters with a wooden lattice for a dappled shade effect.  You could even fit your pergola with fabric to provide greater protection from the elements.

Modern wooden pergolas are typically simple in design and span between beams for a cleaner look.

You can customize the design of a wooden pergola to suit your needs and preferences. Hence, wood is one of the most popular roofing choices for a cabana.

Cabanas with pergolas appear lighter, more open and are easier to integrate into the surrounding landscape.  However, they do need regular maintenance to keep them looking good over a long period of time.

You can stain or paint your wooden pergola depending on the look and style you are going for.

Vinyl Pergolas

Vinyl pergolas are popular in traditional designs. They are usually constructed with a vinyl coating on a wooden or metal core.

Since vinyl is a highly resistant plastic, vinyl pergolas are often longer lasting than wooden ones and require less maintenance.

They are resistant to rotting, blistering or peeling and come in a variety of sizes and styles to complement your architecture.

Metal Pergolas

Source: palmshade.com

Light and contemporary in design, aluminium pergolas are sleek with a slim profile. Hence, they are most suited to modern designs.

You can powder coat aluminium sections in a wide range of colors. Metal pergolas have many advantages over traditional wooden structures. They are lightweight, stronger and much easier to maintain because they require no polishing, staining or painting.

Combine aluminium pergola frames with wooden slats for a more contemporary look for your swimming pool cabana design.

Louvred Roof Structures

Sometimes known as Bioclimatic pergolas, louvred roofs are roofs with adjustable blades set into a box frame.

They consist of rotatable panels that move as a single unit to filter sunlight or completely block it. These can rotate up to 180 degrees to track the sun. A high quality louvred system, when completely flat, can provide a 100% integrity with joints that seal when the louvres are closed. Hence, they can provide protection from the sun, wind and rain.

The one disadvantage of louvred systems is that they do collect debris. Hence, you will need to  maintain them to keep them looking good and operating efficiently.

Source: Recent Milestone Project

Retractable Roof Structures

Retractable roofs create flexible spaces that can be used all year-round. These usually operate on a rail awning system where an aluminium rail section is attached to a frame. They can be manual or motorized, but their operation should be smooth and synchronized.

During hot summer months, you can close the canopy to provide a flat roof that offers shade from the sun. Alternately, during cooler months, the canopy can slide open, offering uninterrupted views and allowing you to enjoy the warmth of a pale, wintery sun.

The aluminium sections can be powder coated in a wide variety of colors to match any color palette. Retractable roofs are usually used with more contemporary homes as their sleek, metal frames and finishes are more complementary to this design style.

You could also attach a retractable canopy to a wood-framed structure using canvas, waterproof fabric or sun shade roof fabric. These fabrics are also available in many colors.

High-quality fabric is lightweight and will not fade in hot summer months. Such lightweight structures are more suitable to smaller, open cabana designs.

Solid Roof Covers

Solid roofs give the cabana a more intimate vibe, making it feel like an outdoor room.  They usually comprise of two layers of roofing, one that is the visible roof that you see in elevation and the internal roof structure that you see when you are inside the cabana.

Internally, a moisture resistant gypsum roof gives the pergola a homely feeling. These are mold and fire resistant, and are available in panels making them quick and easy to install.

Externally, you could opt for a variety of materials including marine ply, thatch, fabric or tiles.

Thatch roofs come in prefabricated panels and give the cabana a tropical vibe. The latest technologies in grass roofs enable them to be strong and durable, easy to install and easy to replace in case of damage.  

Tiled roofs complement a Mediterranean design theme, whereas marine ply can be detailed to look traditional or sleek and modern.

You could also opt for fabric stretched across a metal or wood frame to provide a roof that is waterproof and looks soft and stylish. The fabric you choose should be UV and fade resistant for it to be long lasting.

Milestone – The Experts In Outdoor Swimming Pool Cabanas

At Milestone, we have designed a variety of cabanas in multiple sizes and styles, each one customized to meet the specific requirements of the site and the preferences of our clients.

Our approach to holistic design means we will consider every aspect of the design from the architecture of the house to the style of your garden, to give you the best design possible.

We are well versed in the latest technologies available for customization of your swimming pool cabana design and can advise you on the wide variety of options to choose from.

A swimming pool cabana is a major addition to your garden. Just tell us what you are looking for and let us present you with the available options.

Please contact a member of our design team to get started.

Contact Us

Sejal Nagjee

Sejal Nagjee, Milestone’s CEO and Creative Director is a gifted designer. Regardless of the project scale or scope, from homes and offices, hotels and restaurant, to gardens and exterior living spaces, her distinctive style injects a fresh and vibrant perspective to every living space. With over 30,000 hours of hands-on experience, across a wide breadth of interior and exterior design and build projects, Sejal has the skills, passion, resources and industry connections to get the job done on time!