Converting a patio into a habitable room

While going through all the ways I could make my rent more affordable, I asked myself “Is converting a patio into a habitable room possible? So I could rent out the bedroom and pay less rent?

Though a bit of hard work and innovation is involved it is quite possible to convert your patio into a livable room without spending a ton of money.   

Here is what you need to think about to convert a patio into a habitable room: 1.Are you allowed by your rental agreement? 2.What to hang to protect you from the elements. 3.How to hang it. 4.How to make it all fit. 5.What to expect. 6.Decorating Ideas:Make it legit!

1.What can you have on your lanai/balcony/patio?

Depending on where you live and the rules of your lease, you may or may no be able to turn your lanai into a habitable room.

Safety First

Make sure you will be safe. You might want to think twice about turning a ground floor lanai into a bedroom as it is very easily accessible to thiefs or worse.  Whereas second, third, and so on floors are hard to get to and much safer.

Mine is on the second floor.  I honestly don’t keep anything of value on it while I am not there.   It’s more for sleeping and in my case a garden.  I have noticed a very positive influence being surrounded by and taking care of plants, plus there’s an exciting element to gardening from your bed!

Don’t Break Your Lease

Make sure you are allowed to hang curtains, plants, and have furniture on your lanai. Some lease agreements state that you can not cover your lanai with curtains or use it as storage, which is what it might seem like to an outsider after you have turned it into your bedroom. So if your looking for a new place make sure you can do what you want with your lanai. I got very lucky and the lanais at my building are pretty much fair game.

2.What to Hang: how out of the elements do you wish to be?

First think about the weather where you live. If you live in new york I’m going to say you pretty much could only live on your lanai in the summer. Please don’t read this article and freeze to death. Be smart. There are many options to consider when deciding what to hang to enclose your patio.

Also think about what colors to choose. Color play an important role in our moods. And our mood plays an important role in our ability to get things done! Think about it, make a list. Study up on some colors.


Plastic Reed Looking Curtains

First I had just a fake reed curtain.  The kind that roll up.  It HAS lasted me through one rainy /windy season and is still kind of working.   It did not hold up too well in the wind as I live in windy area. It did keep the rain out though!

At this point it’s kind of falling apart but still in working condition.   It does not however, keep out the sun or provide much privacy.  I don’t personally mind as I’m just sleeping and gardening in my room and is actually what I prefer as my plants need sun.

Reed Curtains

Reed Curtains worked way better for me. I have one on one side after the plastic one kicked the bucket. I actually put two together to make it a little heavier and thicker and it has held up marvelously to the wind. Not a single reed has broken in fact and it is the best set up honestly. I plan on putting up reed around the whole thing.  Also a openable shower curtain to keep the rain out and have more darkness at night, as the street lights have sometimes kept me up.

Thick made for outdoors fabric curtains

These I have only seen on amazon when I was looking for what to hang. They seem to keep out too much light for my taste as I like a lot of light during the day. They seem to keep out the rain and if you put them up right they should hold up to the wind. These are a great option for people not interested in light as much as having an enclosed space and are willing to spend a little more money.

Here are some I found on Amazon.

Actual Structure

Putting up and actual structure is much more expensive and much more time consuming.  If you are allowed and your rent is cheap then maybe this is a viable option.  It will take a lot more planning and measuring.  Maybe even a carpenter.

3.How to hang it

(Protection from the wind, We are not sailing my friends)

Most lanais or patios have a half wall or railing that goes about half way up to the ceiling and are made of sturdy metal. This is the key to protecting whatever curtain you have chosen from getting destroyed in the wind.

What to hang it from:

Drill holes in the roof and using an anchor with a hook and eye. Most of the fake reed curtains will have little hooks to hang it. If whatever you chose does not have, get a long curtain rod, or bamboo rod to hang  from the hook and eyes.

Keep in mind whether or not your going to be opening and closing this curtain. If you are you will need to figure out a way to do so easily and quickly as you do not want be battling with your curtain everyday and night.

How to make it sturdy:

Run ropes, wires or bamboo rods on both sides of whatever your hanging.  From what you’ve hung from the roof down to the half wall. This will keep it from flapping all over the place, knocking over your plants and letting rain into your room. Make sure whatever you choose is thick enough that it won’t cut into your curtains.

I first used some very thin, strong string. And it was so strong that it cut right through my fake reed curtain which might have ultimately led to its demise and reason for not working as well. I now use thicker string and it’s held up 100% better. Make sure there are about 4-6 evenly spaced ropes or whatever you’ve chosen to use.

Ponder about this step a lot and do a lot of brainstorming and quick sketches as to how this can work. I wasted quite a bit of money the first time I tried because I didn’t think it through clearly. I got wet and the curtain I got broke.  Think about all the plausible problems you may encounter.


Find the best way to organize the things you need in the space you have ( less is more )

Be very practical on this part. Unless you are very very lucky and have a HUGE porch, you will have very limited space.  Decide what is most important to you.

What do you REALLY want in this space?

A desk close to your bed so you can edit videos?  A vanity at the end of your bed so you can do your make up?  Natural light is very good for putting on makeup!  A garden so you can transplant your plants into bigger pots and such right from your bed?  Or just a bed so you can have a sanctuary from all of the things you need to do in life?

Choose wisely, you don’t want to have a “habitable” space that you can’t even move around in because you put too much stuff in there.

I have a metal shelf full of plants, a small bedside table and my bed. I can easily walk to my bed from the door and I can sit on the edge of my bed and plant plants.

5.What to expect

Depending on where you live, ideally you will be a more flexible person.  Not so finicky in your day to day needs and commodities. Be realistic, living on your lanai is living outside; unless you actually build a structure. There is a ton of noise. Not the most privacy you could imagine.

If your are the type of person that ADAPTS AND OVERCOMES you can definitely make this work for your specific needs and it can potentially help you very much to accomplish your goals.

Things to be ready for

  • Noise
  • Nosy neighbors
  • Car soot
  • Bugs
  • Little privacy
  • Lots of light at night
  • Cold
  • Wind

6.Fancy the place up: MAKE IT LEGIT!

Inexpensive Accessories and Furniture Ideas, Practical and/or Decorative:

How you decide to decorate is entirely up to you. This is going to be the space you will spending a fair amount of time.  Hopefully you spend at least 7 hours a night. Dreaming, figuring out how to accomplish your goals, or whatever you do in your private space.

Whatever you do, Make it as comfortable as possible!   What is comfort to you?  Make a list. Making lists helps you accomplish your goals.

A horse of many colors: Color affects your brain

Did you ever walk into a room an instantly feel at ease? Or the opposite? This could have had something to do with the colors of the room. Color plays an important role on our moods and deciding what color to surround yourself with on a regular basis.  What colors you choose to put in your room is pretty important.

I chose brown for my curtains, blankets and pillows because brown is the color of comfort. If you will notice checkout buttons on websites are often brown and that’s so that you feel comfortable giving them your money.

I chose green plants because green is a success color.  Plants improve quality of air, mood, negative ions, etc.   Plants go good in every room!

I have stainless steel shelf because to me stainless steel is simple, smart, classy and clean.  They have some pretty good priced ones on amazon.

I also have a simple bamboo bed side table (tv dinner table) which gives it a nice touch.

  • Quick List

    • Shower curtains
    • Reed curtains
    • Pallet bed
    • Futon
    • Corner shelves
    • Hanging plants
    • Pictures in old frames and plastic coverings for important documents(waterproof yet cheap)
What Promted this Article

Light bulb!

There was a time when I thought it would be a good idea to live with my father to have some help with my son. Unfortunately in the “Paradise” of Hawaii, rent is so expensive and wages so low that the three of us lived a one bedroom apt. My father in the living room and my son and I shared the bedroom. We soon realized it wasn’t the best situation for any of us.

My father had to go and I couldn’t go on sharing a room with my growing son. I couldn’t afford to pay more than I already was so I had to ask myself “How can I maximize the use of the space in my apartment so that I can rent out the room and still live here with my son comfortably?

I have now been successfully living on my lanai, clean, safe and dry now for over a year with no mishaps or any problems, aside from dirt being blown around by the wind because i didn’t water my plants enough.

*What is a lanai?

In Hawaii there are no porches, verandas or patios. There are lanais. It’s pronounced la – n- eye. A lanai could be the fanciest most expensive porch you could imagine or the dumpiest pack rat storage space you could ever imagine. My lanai just so happens to be my bedroom. And it is absolutely lovely!

The Purpose of this article is to have an affordable way to eventually better your situation. I believe we can all get at it and make things happen but we often need an “in the meantime” kind of situation that allows us to live inexpensively and be able to save up for our goals or have more time to accomplish them.

This is how I am doing it and I am paying about a third of what I would normally have to spend with just a tenth less comfortable.

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