Lanai, Porch, Patio, or Veranda

If you live in a warm climate, you might be looking for ways to make the most of your outdoor living space at home. A lanai, porch, patio, or veranda can be a great enhancement.

Interior designer Sarah Storms of Styled by Storms says, “Lanais are perfect for spring, summer, and early fall.”

Keep reading to learn what Storms and other experts say about lanais, how they compare to other outdoor features, and why you might prefer a lanai.

What is a Lanai?

What is a Lanai

A lanai is a covered porch, sometimes enclosed with screens or with an open wall facing the outdoors. It creates a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living and is often furnished with sofas, chairs, tables, and even TVs.

Interior designer Colleen Simonds describes a lanai as an outdoor room or a hybrid indoor/outdoor space. Because they are mostly enclosed, lanais can be used for a longer part of the year.

The term “lanai” means “roofed porch” in Hawaiian, where the concept originated. Lanais are primarily found in warm climates and serve as an open-air family room or living room.

Kevin Harris of Kevin Harris Architect, LLC explains, “Lanais are a type of outdoor room towards the back of a home, enclosed with screens or windows to keep out insects and debris. They provide shade and protection from the sun.”

Lanais vs. Porches, Patios, and Verandas

Lanais, patios, porches, and verandas are all types of outdoor spaces, but each has unique features.



A porch is a covered area attached to the front, side, or back entrance of a home. It has a roof, distinguishing it from a patio.



A patio is an outdoor area, usually with seating for entertaining, which may or may not be covered. It often has a paved or level surface. The word “patio” comes from Spanish, meaning “inner, open-air courtyard.”



A veranda is similar to a porch but typically larger and often wraps around the house. It can include seating or furniture.

Designer Colleen Simonds says, “A veranda can wrap around the entire home, while patios and porches are usually smaller and found at the front, back, or side of a house.”

Why Add a Lanai to Your Home?

If you love spending time outdoors or need more space for gatherings and relaxation, adding a lanai can be a fantastic choice. It also boosts your home’s resale value.

“A lanai offers the best of indoor/outdoor living in a comfortable setting,” says Simonds. “You can increase your ‘livable’ square footage, providing extra space for entertaining, relaxing, or even working.”

Even if your home is on the smaller side, you might have the space to add a lanai and make hosting guests easier.

How to Use a Lanai

How to Use a Lanai

Think of a lanai as your outdoor family room. Imagine coming home after a long day at work and stepping into this hybrid indoor-outdoor space to relax with a good book, enjoy a meal, watch TV, or even do all three.

“It’s the ultimate family hang-out space,” says designer Colleen Simonds. A lanai often features furniture similar to an indoor lounge area and a television. The lanai shown above even includes a dining table, perfect for entertaining, with colorful artwork adorning the walls.

“There’s something so luxurious about having a TV in an almost outdoor room,” adds Sarah Storms. “There’s nothing like it.”

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