Here in Hawaii, we use the word lanai to describe almost any type of porch or patio. Technically, a lanai has a roof covering and has at least one wall open to the exterior. We are fortunate to have great weather year round and a lanai can really enhance your living space.
When I got my condo, the lanai didn’t have a roof covering except for a small overhang. It may have had an awning in the beginning that, over time fell apart and was removed. Other condos in my complex had nice retractable awnings and I decided that in order to make the lanai useable during the heat of the day, I should install one. Because my lanai gets direct sun all day and has walls on both sides, it really gets stinking HOT! After getting the Rules & Regs regarding the color and type of awning that would be allowed, I found a local place that could make it. (K Deck Canvas in Wailuku). I choked on the price ($ 3500) but decided it would be worth the investment.
I chose a retractable type that used a crank handle as opposed to one with an electric motor just because I didn’t want the headache of trying to repair it if the motor went out. I think it would be used more if it was waterproof but there is a small space below the gutter where it attaches to the roof where rain water leaks in. I think it would be possible to put some type of flashing between the roof and the awning so that one could leave the cushions out even if it is raining. One thing I was not prepared for was how much heat comes out of the a/c unit when the a/c is on in the living room. I had to scoot the loveseat away from the wall by 4’ to keep it from melting.
This brings me to the issue of what type of furniture you might want to buy. I had a vision of a guest sitting in a comfy chair with coffee and a newspaper or maybe guests having cocktails while lounging in comfy chairs that encourage conversation.
When I got the condo, there was the typical strap type furniture with sagging and discolored straps and chipped finishes. There was the usual dining table and a lounge chair and that took up (by the way, no one sits in a lounge chair). It was not an inviting place.
I decided that, since it rarely rains in Kihei, I could have cushioned furniture that would be fun and comfortable. I purchased a set of woven furniture from Wayfair knowing that it only came with tan 5” cushions. I anticipated having new cushions made with a quick dry high quality foam and Sunbrella fabric. This turned out to be a bit more complicated than I thought. After researching ready made cushions, I found I couldn’t get a high quality foam with weather proof fabric and would have to have them custom made. After hours of online research, I found a foam company on the mainland (The Foam Company) that would let me choose the thickness, size and quick drying qualities I wanted and the cost including shipping was reasonable. My next stop was to find the fabric I wanted. I found sample books at Ohana Drapery and Upholstery on Hukilike Street in Kahului. They were super helpful and suggested it would be cheaper for me if I ordered everything myself and when I had it all together, to bring in the foam and new fabric and they would make the cushions. When it all came together I was super happy with the result.
There is a downside to having cushions and that is that occasionally it does rain in Kihei. If I saw it coming, I could text the guests and ask them to bring the cushions inside. In the instances when they were not around and the cushions got wet, all that was needed was to put them on edge and by the next day, they were dry.
I am guessing many of you reading this blog are thinking “that is way too much work”. I would agree that going this route is probably not practical unless you have someone who can monitor that or if your lanai is protected from rain. So, what are your options? There are some new lines of outdoor furniture that are fantastic but pretty expensive. Outdoor Living on Lalo street in Kahului has some great options that are cushion free and comfortable and great looking. Be prepared to spend $$$.
Home Depot online has some great looking outdoor furniture as well but you need to go there in person to order it. They will ship for free but expect to wait 3-6 weeks for it to arrive and you don’t get to see it in person before you buy it.
For unique pieces, check Craigslist or Indolotus Imports in Kihei on Hale Kuai St. They carry a lot of teak pieces that will stand up to the elements.
Both the corner and coffee table in the living room started out as sorry looking broken legged pieces that I found in the back of the place. They repaired the pieces and after a light sanding and some furniture wax, they look great.
I found the pineapple rug at Lowe’s. It vacuum and cleans easily and dries pretty fast. I scored on the pineapple design! Home Depot, Mind’s Eye and Wayfair also have some nice durable outdoor rugs. If you want to add some elements of the beach, wooden mobiles and signs can be found at most flea markets as well some some touristy stores like Hawaii Gift and Craft at Dolphin Plaza in Kihei.
Trying to hide a/c equipment is also a challenge. I found this fake fern on amazon and was really impressed with the quality. I added a piece of fake ivy to it to help hide the lower electrical box. If anyone has other suggestions on how to hide the ac and electrical boxes, I would love to hear them.
As always, if you have a question or comment, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Hui Hou!