10 Lapa Ideas That Will Make Your Outdoor Living Space Stand Out

Outdoor living is a big deal in South Africa! We love to spend time in the garden, invite friends over to braai, and enjoy sundowners as we watch the sunset. We have collected together ten lapa ideas that will help to inspire your outdoor living area so that you can make the most of your space.

Why choose a lapa for your outdoor space?

A lapa comes with lots of benefits and can be a great addition to any outdoor space. Your new lapa will:

  • Make sure that you stay cool by the pool by providing shade on hot summer days
  • Give shelter when in rains so that you can enjoy being outside whatever the weather
  • You can build a braai into the lapa with spacious side tables and even a sink, making outdoor cooking easy-peasy
  • Lapas come in all shapes and sizes! You can decide how big you want it to be, what shape it is, and what roofing to use to cover it. It can make your outdoor living area really stand out from the neighbors.

10 Lapa Ideas that Will Make Your Outdoor Space Stand Out

1. Extend your indoor living space to the outside

Big lapa added on to a house, with a aluzinc roof
This big lapa has plenty of space for outdoor living

This big lapa extends the living space of our clients home through a door from the kitchen. The big living space underneath the roof has a deck, built in braai with side tables, and plenty of room for the family dining table. We built the roof with timber laminated beams and exposed ceilings. The decking extends around the pool which makes the transition between the indoor and outdoor areas feel seamless.

Stone braai with decking and kick-plate by the braai
The outdoor kitchen has a braai and side tables, making outdoor cooking a pleasure!

2. Get creative and use thatch to create a a unique curvy roof

Thatch lapa with sweeping curves
This thatch lapa has a beautifully curved roof

We built this beautiful thatched lapa at a private game lodge in Somerset East. The space is used as a communal area to make a fire and cook in the evening or enjoy some drinks together after a day out in the bush. The curved design of the roof makes this lapa really stand out.

Beautiful lapa idea with curves in the thatch
Enjoy drinks around the fire with shelter close by
3. Go with a rustic design in the garden for parties and events
Thatch lapa for rustic weddings and outdoor living
You can use a rustic lapa to host garden parties under cover

This rustic thatch lapa is used to host garden parties and small weddings. It provides shade when the sun is really hot and shelter if it rains, which means that the party can go ahead regardless of the weather. This kind of design is perfect for a venue that hosts outdoor events and needs to guarantee that the occasion happens come rain or shine!

4. Build the lapa as a totally separate space from your main house
Outdoor living area with built in braai
This lapa is totally separate from the main house

The lapa can be a totally separate structure, built a little away from your main house. A separate outdoor space like this is ideal as a pool house for the kids and their friends to hang out, or if you want to entertain guests while your partner works from home. The design and size of the building is totally up to you. The lapa above is built in, with stacking doors opening to the garden. It has a brick braai and space to cook, and an open plan dining and lounge area. A space ideal for outdoor living and entertainment.

5. Choose a traditional thatch lapa by the pool

Big thatched lapa by the pool
This traditional lapa fits perfectly by the pool

Lapa’s in South Africa are traditionally thatched, why break away from tradition if a thatch lapa is what you’re looking for? The beautiful lapa above has plenty of space for shelter and shade by the pool, with changing rooms and toilets for bathers at the back. It’s the perfect setting for Summertime pool days in the sunshine.

6. Use roof shingles and white ceilings for a fresh look
Lapa roof with shingles
The shingle roof on this lapa gives it a fresh, modern look
Ceilings inside lapa
The inside has iso-board ceilings

This roof has been tiled in shingles which have real curbside appeal and are a popular choice for roofing at the moment. The inside of the building has white iso-board ceilings fitted in between the pole structure. This outdoor living space is small and charming, with a fresh, clean look and feel.

7. Modernize the thatch look with unique finishes

Thatch lapa with modern shaping
The unique finishes on this lapa really make it stand out

You can get really creative with lapa ideas; this one is at a game lodge in the Eastern Cape and it uses tree trunks instead of poles for the supporting structure. What makes this lapa even more special is the sweeping thatch which reaches over the steps and all the way down to the ground. These finishes modernize the idea of a traditional thatch lapa.

8. Keep it small and unintrusive

Small thatch lapa by the pool
This small lapa is the perfect size for a more compact outdoor space

If your outdoor space is already quite small, don’t clutter it with too big-a structure! A small lapa is also perfectly enough to give shade and shelter in a smaller space. Keep it small and tidy.

9. Place the lapa somewhere interesting
Lapa in the pool with a bar for guests
Think of somewhere different or special to place your lapa

Where is your favourite place to sit outdoors? By thinking about where you place the lapa, you can really make the most of the space you have at hand. Do you have a favourite spot to sit that catches the afternoon sun? Or a place where you can shelter from a windy day? Use them as inspiration when looking for ideas of where to place the lapa. Our clients in East London had this lapa built on an island in the middle of their pool so that guests could swim or dangle their legs into the cool water while they enjoy a drink from the bar in the lapa!

10. Give it a warm feeling inside with a thatch ceiling
Thatch ceiling inside tiled lapa
If you’re looking for the cozy feeling of thatch inside you can add a thatch ceiling

If you have decided to cover the lapa roof in roof sheeting or tiles, you can still get the look and feel of a thatched lapa on the inside by fitting a thatch ceiling. The ceiling is made by fitting a thin layer of thatching reed behind the poles and laths. This lapa above has tiles on the outside and thatch on the inside, giving it the look and feeling of a traditional thatched lapa when you’re sitting inside.

In Conclusion

In a country with such a temperate climate there’s no excuse not to spruce up your outdoor living and entertainment area in time for the Summer. A lapa can be thatched, or not. Big, or small. Traditional, modern or totally unique. The only thing holding you back is your imagination! I hope these lapa ideas have helped to kick start your next home improvement project.

If you have other inspirational ideas to share please feel welcome to comment below.

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