We made a tiki-inspired "carbana" in three weeks!

October 17 | Guest post by Trystan L. Bass

As soon as I saw Megan's carbana post, I knew that was the answer to the ongoing question of "WTF do we do about our horrible backyard?" My husband and I have owned an otherwise cute little bungalow in sunny Silicon Valley for nearly a dozen years, and we've hated our yard the whole time. It came with a half-dead orange tree smack in the center of a postage-stamp of struggling grass surrounded by concrete.

Empty yard, view from drivewayWe'd recently put the tree out of its misery, but the space between our house and the detached garage-turned-home office was otherwise empty, useless space.

Enter: The carbana! Here's how we pulled it off…

We bought the carport, parts, stakes, and one shade wall from Ace Canopy online for $350. Then we took some time off from work. My husband is a freelancer so he rearranged his schedule to help out and make tons of trips to Orchard Supply Hardware. Our yard was already prepped — the tree stump was out, and we'd killed the grass so only bits of buzz-cut weeds were left.

Weedblock fabric done
The weed-block all laid down.

I laid down weed-block fabric over the stubble and dirt for a level-ish ground. We used a rubber mallet to hammer in the staples. It took about 5-6 rolls of weedblock fabric to cover enough of the yard for us to create the carbana. We spent about $50 on these materials.

Carport setup
Then we assembled the carport so the space finally had shade. Everything else was essentially decorating.

Tiki barFirst thing we put in was the bar! We got this teak tiki bar for free from a friend in Southern California, just had to go across the state to get it.

Three rugsThen we laid down the rugs. The inside of the carbana floor is covered with three outdoor rugs for about $80/each.

View from the far endThen we assembled the furniture. We had a few pieces of furniture already — hand-me-downs from friends and gifts from family — but we did have to buy major items like the outdoor rugs, a patio set, solar lighting, and plants.

In about three weeks, we turned that dead spot into a tropical-themed cabana with space for entertaining.

Now, a gorgeous sago palm graces the entry along with the obligatory tiki torches. We have a fantastic bar, a hammock with a view, and a cushy couch to kick back in. This is what we're calling Phase One. It's livable and perfectly fine for a few more breezy weeks in fall. Next spring, we'll cover the area in front of the carbana with gravel and add more plants to surround it. Long-term, we want more seating options too.

But right now, we love the hell out of having morning coffee and afternoon cocktails in our carbana. And thanks to Offbeat Home for the inspiration!

You can see the full transformation in my Flickr set:

  1. that looks so great! the backyard at my new house has a cement slab patio that I plan on revamping in the spring. This is some great inspiration on how to make it a little more inviting. I particularly love the sheer fabric sides which are sort of romantic.

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  2. This looks amazing! It's given me heaps of ideas for our outside "room", which needs love.
    With the white curtains, are they an outdoor fabric, or will you bring them in when they're not in use?

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    • The curtains are a bunch of mosquito netting things from Ikea that my mom gave us. I suspect they won't last more than a year or two since they're pretty lightweight. Winters are rainy but mild, so we may leave them up. Kind of a coin toss!

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  3. Love this. Nicely done, looks fantastic!

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