This was our first "improvement" and I was thinking it was a ridiculous idea. An OUTDOOR SHOWER? We had TWO perfectly good showers and tubs inside. He did a good job selling me on it and he was so excited, I just said yes. BEST yes ever! After it was built, we never showered inside again. It is super huge, a nice large bench as well as a shelf on the wall behind the little artsy things (from Walmart).
A lot of houses in tropical areas have outdoor cold water showers without enclosures to rinse off snorkel or scuba gear and sandy bodies. Happily, we added hot water and a bit of privacy to boot!
We had tons of cedar decking in Oregon and we treated it every year. They still look brand new because of the product. No one on Maui sold it (manufactured in Portland, Oregon) so I had to have it shipped over! $$$$ The owner was so nice and said if we sent her a photo, she would give us the shipping for free! It's like putting hand lotion on wood. Just gives wood a lot of protection from sun and water. The first thing we did was have our neighbor kids (and parents) over for an outdoor shower party (with swim suits). They just thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread!
The door hooks closed to the wall when not in use as Maui does get some wind. The builder built it just tall enough so that the neighbors on either side could not see in from their second story windows.
Jim, the builder, took a shine to Mr. Ralph and the two of them brainstormed how to make the back yard more usable. They decided on engineered wood (plastic) and then continued scheming to build it all the way out to the backyard fence! It would cover the existing cement patio, just meet with the patio door from dining area and be one expanse of lush.
Mr. Ralph created the "fence art" of bamboo shade/fern because the white fence was too blaring white for my eyes! We had many good times, large groups and small, over the three years that he was alive to enjoy it. Worth every penny ... and we became friends with the builder!
The following year we added the side deck. I wanted all green plants with white flashes from flowers or variegated plants. He spent hours digging up existing plants and putting them in pots, for better soil (hard clay in Kihei) and so he could install a drip system to each one. The palm trees got their own drip also.
We called this our meditation deck. There's a gate to the front yard at the end down there, so we could prop it open and people could join us without walking through the house.
After his death, I got rid of the huge Costco dining table and chairs, and bought a few lightweight chairs and a coffee table from Amazon (free shipping) which I put together myself! So I have two distinct areas ... my coffee nook just outside the dining room sliding door (for four) as well as a small party area for four that we can easily change into a larger area and bring over lightweight chairs. You might see that some of these seats are two chairs stacked. Everyone has a spot to sit their beverage.
At Christmas I would get a giant poinsettia for that back corner and call it good. A friend helped me string lights on the back fence one Christmas and now I just kept them up all year. Instant party mood.