How an HGTV Designer Maximized a Tiny Cabana for a Family of 5

updated Mar 3, 2021
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As part of HGTV’s “Beach Escape” month, a new special called “Beach Cabana Royale” aired on Discovery+. Hosted by Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi — who stepped away from the Jersey Shore onto the Long Island seaside — the show challenged designers with renovating the Atlantic Beach cabanas of three families.

The designers Delia Kenza, Wendell Holland, and Karla Graves were given 12 hours to completely revamp the respective spaces according to the families’ wishes. With the average cabana measuring 8 by 16 feet, the competition was all about making the most of a small space. But Graves, an Alabama-based seamstress and small space designer, may have had the most challenging tasks of them all — to remodel a cabana for a family of five.

Uly and Lauren, the partners at the helm of the family, wanted the space to be minimalist, and Graves’ came through with the winning design that featured several key tips for transforming any small space.

Here’s what we learned from the renovation that you can incorporate into your own small spaces:

Add sliding doors to divide the space and create storage

Uly and Lauren met at a local dojo, where Uly was teaching karate and Lauren’s sons were taking lessons, so Graves looked to Japanese-style screen doors for inspiration. She used sliding doors to cordon off the shower area and create a closet. The shower doors could be pulled back when not in use to give the entertaining space a longer appearance. The new closet space was large enough to store beach supplies and clothing, and conceal a bar cart and small television. 

Create a platform floor to conceal additional seating

The material for the wooden sliding doors was also used to redo part of the “floor.” Graves created a raised platform for a portion of the floor and crafted a low, L-shaped couch to rest on it. The platform added depth to the room and left room for additional storage. Rather than place shelves under the platform, Graves added a pull-out trundle lounger for sleeping or additional seating. The combined seating areas left enough room for the entire family to rest.

Leave room for additions on the walls

All of the designers kept the cabana walls white with minimal decorations to leave the spaces light and clutter-free, but Graves wanted to add a personal touch. Ahead of the renovation, Uly shared his passion for photography with Graves, so she made sure to incorporate some of his pictures in the remodel. She framed and hung four of the photos so that the family still had space to add new pictures in the future.

To see more from “Beach Escape,” look for the show on Discovery+.