While there’s nothing like a tropical vacation, sometimes there’s no need to travel far to feel as though you’re kicking back in paradise. If you live in a warm weather locale, you may be looking for ways to maximize your outdoor living setup at home, and perhaps you’re curious about whether a lanai is right for you.
Below, we walk you through the basics of what exactly a lanai is and how it differs from a porch, patio, and veranda. We also explore the benefits of adding a lanai to your home and the variety of ways such a space can come in handy, whether you wish to use it for socializing or simply crave a space in which you can unwind after a busy work day.
What Is a Lanai?
Lanais are “a type of outdoor room toward the back of a home that is enclosed with screens or windows to keep insects and debris out,” says Kevin Harris of Kevin Harris Architect, LLC.
The term “lanai” originated in Hawaii. “Lanais are popular in warm and tropical climates because they provide a way to enjoy the outdoors without being bothered by insects, and they offer shade and protection from the sun,” Harris adds. But lanais are not always fully screened in; oftentimes, one wall is open and exposed to the elements.
Can be enjoyed during many seasons of the year and bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor living
Can be outfitted with furniture including sofas, chairs, tables, and even a TV
Best for warm weather climates where they can be fully enjoyed as much as possible
Some people may crave a more simplified outdoor living space that doesn’t require the same design needs as a living room or family room
Lanai vs. Patio vs. Porch vs. Veranda
Given that there are so many different types of outdoor living spaces, you may be wondering how exactly a lanai distinguishes itself from say, a screened porch. Keep in mind that lanais, patios, porches, and verandas are all within the same general family but feature different characteristics.
“A veranda can wrap around the entire home while a patios and porches are typically smaller spaces found in the front, back, or side of a home,” says designer Colleen Simonds, who operates an eponymous firm.
A lanai, however, is designed to function as an “outdoor room” and more of an “indoor/outdoor hybrid” space, she adds. Additionally, lanais are designed to be usable for a larger portion of the year due to the fact that they’re mostly enclosed.
“Lanais are your spring, summer, and early fall space,” notes Sarah Storms of Styled by Storms.
Why Add a Lanai to Your Home
If you enjoy spending time outdoors or simply crave more space to gather and unwind, adding a lanai to your home is an excellent option.
“A lanai offers the ultimate in true indoor/outdoor living in a very comfortable setting,” Simonds says. “You can expand the “livable’ square footage and suddenly have additional space for entertaining, relaxing, even working.”
Even if your home is fairly small, you may have room to expand and build a lanai that will make it easier to entertain guests.
How to Use a Lanai
Think of a lanai as an outdoor family room of sorts. What better way to unwind from a long work day than to step into your hybrid indoor-outdoor space and relax with a good book, meal, TV show, or all three?
“It’s the ultimate family hang out space,” Simonds says, explaining that oftentimes, a lanai will feature furniture typical of an indoor lounge space as well as a television. The lanai pictured above even includes a dining table perfect for entertaining, and colorful artwork graces the walls.
“There’s just something so luxurious about having a TV in an almost outdoor room,” Storms adds. “There’s nothing like it.”