Tuesday, March 17

Our sleeping ramada project


Inspiration struck us a couple of weeks ago when I came across the photo above in a magazine!  It occurred to us that we, too, want to sleep outside during the warmer months.

I googled “outdoor sleeping” and came up with these enchanting images:


As if the above images were not reason enough, if you are still wondering why on earth we would want to sleep outdoors, here are some more of our reasons…

Cruel irony = 95 degrees inside, 80 degrees outside.

In the summer at night, it is usually cooler outside than inside, as the house has heated up throughout the day, but the cooling night air has not yet infiltrated the house. Even with all the windows open and fans on.

Contrary to what I thought before we moved here, all of Arizona does not swelter 24/7 like Phoenix. Tucson is at 2400 feet above sea level, compared to Phoenix at 1100 feet. As a result, we are blessed with a pleasant temperature drop of 20 to 30 degrees at night.

We spent a mint on air conditioning last summer, even though we were valiant in avoiding turning it on as much as possible. So our brilliant brainstorm seems like the perfect solution. 

The bonus is that Ken loves to camp, and well, me, not so much. Had my fill of that in the Outdoor Ed program at Northland College in my undergrad days. So, this will give him a taste of camping, while I get to have access to all my very important creature comforts.

What, you ask, is a ramada?

ra-ma-da [ruh-mah-duh]

–noun (Southwestern U.S.)

1) An open shelter, often having a dome-shaped thatched roof, and installed especially on beaches and picnic grounds.

2) One of the words Spanish contributed to the English of the American Southwest is ramada, a term for an open shelter roofed with brush or branches, and by extension, an open porch or breezeway.

Ramada can also mean an arbor of twined branches; this sense illustrates the derivation of the word from Spanish rama, meaning "branch," hence ramada, "arbor, mass of branches." The suffix -ada in Spanish denotes "a place characterized by (something)."

Ramada might have remained a relatively obscure regional word were it not for its adoption in the name of a national chain of motels.

A ramada is essentially the southwest incarnation of a gazebo.

A ramada can be rustic:



Or elaborate:



Or luxurious:



Or cozy:


We’re going for cozy, something that will shelter a sensuous outdoor bed from the monsoon rains and mosquitoes, yet allow for the enjoyment of the cool night breezes and the eastern exposure – awakening to yummy desert sunrises! 

I’m thinking an outside layer of ivory Sunbrella waterproof fabric and an inside layer of mosquito netting. All panels grommetted, on double rods or curtain cable, similar to Melody Johnson’s grommetted living room curtains.


So this is where we want to put it – in our “east courtyard”, and this is what we are starting with:

Lester Street - Pre-Closing 03.08 019

The previous owners’ sweet raised beds will have to go.  As will the flagstone path to nowhere.  And the tree stump hidden under the grouping of terra cotta pots near the birdbath. And the irrigation system has proven brittle and expensively leak-prone. 

That has been taken care last weekend of by “Ken the Amazing".” He tore the whole system out and replaced it with new trunk lines, “spaghetti” lines and emitters. Ahhhh…  Looking forward to lower water bills this year!


And here is the cleanup in process. raised beds gone!



I added a couple of chairs to gussy up the space in the meantime:


We plan to site the ramada about where the terra cotta pots are.  This way, we won’t be blocking too much light from coming into the house in the cooler parts of the year.


  • The single window to the right of the chimney is the living room. 
  • The center bank of triple windows is Ken’s Den. 
  • The bank of triple windows to the far right, next to the bougainvillea, is our bedroom. 
  • The door is the far right of the photo goes into our master bath.

We took a break for a couple of weeks, then went back in and got rid of the flagstone, which we’ll re-use in the project later once the ramada is built. Here are the latest progress pics:





  1. I'm seeing another bougainvillea plant being a part of your ramada!!! Colorful and will grow like mad. I LOVE what you guys are doing:)

  2. Looking better and better. I am excited to see what you come up with.

  3. How very cosy! I want one! Seriously the ramada idea looks great. I can't wait to see it all done. love your creativity.

  4. Oh, it's going to be marvelous! I would be concerned about snuggling up with creepy crawlys but sounds like you've got that covered.