A Lanai: What the Hell is a Lanai?

Written By Kenneth Wilson  |  0 Comments

Until I moved to Florida, in all of my 65 years of living had I ever heard the term even mentioned.

Here on the coast, people seem to recognize the word and use it in their daily vocabulary, as a lanai is used by almost every homeowner in the tropics. It’s like every realtor we spoke to upon searching for a house here mentioned the lanai and it took me a while before I came down here to see what it was all about for myself. I had previously only thought Lanai was an island off the coast of Hawaii.

What is a Lanai?

A lanai is a covered outside living space that’s used to enjoy the ocean breezes and sunshine. If you’re buying a home with a pool then the house will usually come with one which I, in my not-quite-young-as-I-was self, wasn’t planning to exercise my handy-man skills and build one. I wasn’t planning to pay someone to either. So upon our search for our home,

we knew we had to have one that came with it. Our own lanai connects with our pool which is convenient for storing away pool accessories in and keeping them accessible when someone wants to go swimming.

It’s especially handy for when we have company that will leave things out for us to store away later, it’d just be this bothersome ordeal we’d be too tired to move somewhere less accessible after a long day. Luckily, we have a storage room connecting to the lanai so that our pool accessories and other things can be stored away from sight, yet are still very accessible.

My wife and I took into account the humidity and heat that came along with outside lounging so we wanted a lanai that had at least one ceiling fan. We use the lanai almost every day and with the ceiling fan going, I have to say, it’s pretty comfortable. We’ve put fa few furnishings out there as well. A few outdoor patio chairs equipped with a patio table and a hammock, often come in handy when we have guests or have cause for an outdoor celebration. If it’s raining, then we typically remove the cushions from our lawn chairs but other than that the lanai serves as bit of a shelter for sitting out and watching the rain. When it’s particularly sunny, which it always is, then you don’t want to go step out into your lanai and have the sun hit directly into your just- opened eyes.

What I’d advise to new homeowners in Florida is to be mindful of the direction your lanai is facing in regard to the sun’s location. The orientation of your house was never something I considered before purchasing our new home here in Florida. The sun is relentless so you should consider that before putting that down-payment on a house with a lanai facing directly toward the rising or setting sun.

In the morning, the sun is absolutely blinding while sitting out in our lanai because it faces directly toward the east. My wife hates that because she’d love to sit outside and read the morning paper. If I had the chance to change anything about our new home, it would be to choose one with a lanai facing north. The sun wouldn’t come directly into the lanai at all during the day. I wish we had a friend or someone we knew to inform us about this small but important factor before purchasing our home so I’m here to tell you.

Keep in Mind: Lanai Sun Exposure

One thing I’ve learned about the unyielding Florida sun is that it’s only great to have in small increments. Especially as a Vermont originator, my old skin isn’t used to all this sun but I shouldn’t have to be bothered to apply sunscreen if I’m just lounging outside of my home. Our lanai is covered overhead so that the sun isn’t beating down on us and cooking us unknowingly as we enjoy our time outdoors. My wife who is an avid nature-lover, thoroughly appreciates this aspect of our home and wouldn’t otherwise be able to do so without the lanai.

Overall I’d say a lanai is an essential aspect of anyone living in Florida. Not only does it come in handy when you have company over or when visiting with the family, it’s perfect to put a hammock out there and just relax by yourself on those warm summer evenings. I was never one for the great outdoors but it is nice to be outside sometimes and it’s especially nice knowing the lanai serves as somewhat of a shelter too.

Not once has my lanai been a burden to my wife and I, if anything it’s been a blessing due to its needed outdoor space or smoking area for certain house guests. A lanai is one of those things you never knew you needed until you had it. Back in Vermont, we had an old and stuffy garage which wasn’t pleasant to sit in at all. We didn’t even have a porch. Now that we have the extra space and accessibility I don’t know how we ever lived without it.

Another nice thing about having a lanai is that if you have one leading into a kitchen or living room, it’s perfect to brighten up the home. My wife and I like to open up our curtains during the day and enjoy the view of the lanai from inside our living room which can perk up your mood greatly. I love looking out of my window and seeing birds flock around our birdfeeder we’ve hung from the top of our lanai. Especially during spring, there’s a variety of species that come straight to our lanai and we love to sit out and watch them or while my wife or I are cooking. It’s a serene and peaceful asset to have with your home during those times, as well as the obvious beautiful weather in southwest Florida. I’ll never have a more appreciated or handy part of my house as much as I can appreciate the lanai.

About the Author

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

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