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The Little Things - Cabanas

By Janet Ramin on July 02, 2010


The Bikini Sunshade from Janus et Cie

For many people, summertime means enjoying the open air of the beach or backyard. But we know the dangers of spending too much time in the sun---premature aging of the skin, a higher risk of skin cancer, and the chance of being mistaken for a walking leather handbag.

To maximize the sun’s pleasure but minimize the damage, we explored a little thing called the cabana. A cabana can be either a permanent open wall structure or a temporary shade structure used as protection from the sun.

Cabanas come in many different forms – some are mere sunshades, others full blown canopies, and there’s the maximum cabana – the pavilion or gazebo. The type of cabana you need will depend on your location and on how many people you want to shade.

For a small family outing of 3 or 4 people to the beach the collapsible beach canopies pictured below are perfect. They are light-weight, and more importantly, they fold into a small package and easily can be carried from the car to the beach or campsite. The Bikini Sunshade from Janus et Cie is another variation of a sunshade with more space to stretch out between its poles.

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If you want to shade a picnic table and a small party, this spacious tripod canopy from ShadeUSA is just the right size. Another cabana, the canvas gazebo, recalls the look of Middle Eastern desert structures and is an elegant way to protect your party. These gazebos come in many different sizes and colors and can shade large groups – they’re popular with outdoor wedding parties. At the end of an event, they can be disassembled and your backyard is back to its original state.

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Originating from the Mediterranean Riviera we have also have striped beach cabanas that look like small huts. Walls are added to the overhead canopy to provide more privacy – perfect for that little midday siesta. The fabric walls can be tied back when you want some sun and company.

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A more permanent type of cabana is a beach hut, pavilion or an open gazebo. These are outdoor structures meant to offer respite from the sun in the middle of a garden or beach landscape. The most common is the beach hut. These are usually made of thatched roofs and are often found at beach resorts. The huts can be small and cover an individual or can be more elaborate structures that shade large parties. The other permanent cabana is the pavilion/gazebo. They are usually designed to match the theme of the garden. A Chinese garden will boast a Chinese pagoda style pavilion with upturned roof eaves. A classical garden will have Greek architectural elements such as columns as part of its design.

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For your next outdoor venture, think of using a cabana. It can maximize your outdoor time and provide protection from harmful rays. The permanent cabanas such as the pavilion can also be part of your landscape design for your backyard. They’re wonderful for relaxing in during a hot afternoon or for a summer garden party.

Learn more and earn your interior design certification at NYIAD!