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How to Build a Luxurious DIY Backyard Pool Cabana Pergola

A DIY pergola built in 2 days and styled as a Serena & Lily inspired backyard cabana for less to provide extra shade by the pool. 

If you’ve ever dreamed of bringing South Beach Miami vibes to your backyard pool, look no further than this DIY poolside cabana.

Okay, technically it’s just a DIY pergola kit we stuck beside our backyard swimming pool back in 2021. But it’s pretty darn fancy for a weekend home improvement project, right?

diy backyard cabana beside a swimming pool

Now, several years later, it’s still one of the best decisions we made for our backyard pool. When there are no trees in sight and you’re desperate for shade, this project is the perfect solution.

It feels SO good to have this relaxing setup in our backyard to escape from it all!

I’ll walk you through what we used to make it happen so you can build one yourself in your own backyard. 

Here’s what this spot looked like beside our pool before.

pool deck before

How to Make a Backyard Cabana Using a Tojagrid Kit

We never would have managed to build outdoor cabanas in our pool area if it were’t for using a Double Pergola Kit from Tojagrid. Okay, maybe we would have eventually managed by figuring out how to piece together decking hardware.

But we didn’t trust our engineering skills to this one and opted for a kit as a great way to have it already planned out for us.

The kit came with shade sails to perfectly fit the pergola structure so we could immediately start enjoying the shade in our new outdoor space. 

newly assembled wood diy cabana using a pergola kit from tojagrid

Prep Work

We had contractors fill in a flower bed with new concrete to have enough concrete slab space for the structure.

The best part about the kit we used is it’s far more substantial and creates a stronger focal point than the store-bought metal and wood pergolas you find in the patio section at Lowe’s and Home Depot. 

Traditional Pergola Uses

Aside from using it like a South Beach cabana, it’s a great outdoor entertainment space:

  • Shady spot for a hot-tub spa
  • Functional space for a dining table
  • Gathering area for a fire pit
  • Perfect spot for a potting shed
  • Intimate space for an outdoor daybed
white DIY pergola cabana with outdoor curtains and lounge chairs

UV Blocking Curtains | Lounge Chairs | Garden Stools | Outdoor Pillows | Turkish Towels | Planter | Curtain Tie-Backs | Outdoor Curtain Rods

Backyard Cabana Ideas

These 7 pool cabana ideas guided the whole vision with some Serena & Lily vibes for less.

All I need is a mojito and I’m set.

If you don’t follow us on Instagram, I shared the whole DIY pergola building process in my Instagram Stories using a kit gifted to us by Toja Grid. My brother and dad were a huge help in hoisting it up with us.

We made it 8’x24′ to give us plenty of shade space.

How to Avoid Assembly Mistakes We Made

To be honest, this project was WAY harder than we anticipated. That 6×6 pressure treated lumber is insanely heavier than it looks! 

Hollow Posts

In hindsight, I strongly recommend that you use these hollow 6×6 cedar deck posts so they are easier to maneuver.

Labor

We definitely should have had at least 6 of us assembling this size of outdoor cabana because of how heavy the posts were.

We managed with 4 people, but that was 3 super strong men nearly injuring themselves (and little me setting posts into each base plate as they lifted).

Even though we might still be feeling the effects of it in our joints a little bit, at least we can rest on one of these outdoor lounge chairs in the shade by the pool.

DIY cabana beside a backyard pool

P.S. I definitely stood squished against our fence inside of our bushes just praying no creepy crawlies would bite me while I took this photo. #WorthIt

Outdoor Living Space Inspiration

Robert and I have been so lucky to have visited a couple of really beautiful places in recent years – one was a company trip when he worked in annuities to South Beach, Miami.

We went to Montego Bay, Jamaica for our 10 year wedding anniversary where the dreamy pool pavilions there inspired our billowy curtains.

So it felt fitting to style the cabana to remind us of those vacations. It’s a little slice of vacation in our own backyard now.

white DIY pergola cabana with outdoor curtains and lounge chairs

Adding Outdoor Curtains

I added these UV blocking curtains and outdoor curtain rods all around to provide extra shade when the sun comes on from the sides of the pergola.

We attached these tiebacks so that they’d be easy to keep open and tamed from the breeze when not in use.

outdoor lounge chairs under a white pergola cabana with outdoor curtains
white DIY pergola cabana with outdoor curtains and lounge chairs

Open-Air Cabana Seating

I got these four outdoor lounge chairs hoping they’d be easier to keep clean than chairs with cushions. My only regret is I wish I’d bought two more since there’s definitely room for six chairs under this pergola.

I think these are sold out, but these are similar:

pool lounge chairs under a white DIY pergola

To have a place handy for setting drinks or a book, I used these garden stools. They’re my favorite kind of outdoor furniture because they’re so versatile in all kinds of places around the yard.

I got these outdoor pillows for a little extra support too.

outdoor lounge chairs under white pergola with outdoor curtains and pillows

These Turkish towels are so perfect for by the pool because they’re extra absorbent but they dry much faster in the sun than regular plush towels.

outdoor lounge chair with pillow, turkish towel, and sun hat

Best Patio Furniture for a Cabana

A couple of years ago, we added these Better Homes and Gardens Patio Furniture Sets from Walmart that double as seating and dining space. They’ve worked perfectly here!

This was one of the most physically challenging projects we’ve ever done, but we truly couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Over time, we added string lights and solar pendant lights too. That’s my solution for everything outdoors. String lights always seem to be the cherry on top.

Related: Our Walmart Patio Furniture Review Over 2 Years Later

walmart patio furniture inside a backyard cabana
white DIY pergola cabana with outdoor curtains and lounge chairs

Eventually, we plan to do concrete stamping on the pool deck.

The DIY painted concrete is holding us over for now, but it’s proven to be really durable since we did it in 2020.

white DIY pergola cabana with outdoor curtains and lounge chairs

These outdoor projects always end up being way harder and more pricey than we anticipate, but my gosh they are so rewarding once they’re done.

backyard pergola poolside cabana with white outdoor curtains

Backyard Pool Before and After

Just for fun, remember when this spot looked like this when we first moved in?

backyard before

After cleaning up the landscaping, dismantling the old wood rotted pergola swing, replacing the pool liner, painting the concrete, and building this DIY pergola cabana, here’s where we ended up.

pool makeover with DIY pergola cabana and painted concrete

After replacing the fence and adding more patio seating, our backyard pool now looks like this.

backyard cabana diy with walmart outdoor furniture for a poolside conversation area

Cabana Decorating Sources

If you want to build your own backyard cabana, you can see lots of Tojagrid kit options here.

This pergola has held up perfectly since we built it in 2021 besides needing a little touch-up paint. We’re still so happy with it and practically live in its shade half the year from May until September.

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42 Comments

  1. Stunning! I hope you play the song “Kokomo” and just enjoy this retreat! One question…..what did you use for the “ceiling” of the cabana?

    1. What kind of supports did you use to attach the curtain rods? I’m having trouble figuring out how to do this in our backyard.