Archadeck of Austin Explores the History of the Beloved Backyard Deck
“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future”
— Theodore Roosevelt
In much the same way our interior spaces are the heart of our home, the backyard deck is an outdoor living staple and remains the heart of the backyard. Today’s decks are not the one-dimensional “plain Jane” decks of the past. 21st century decks have become the centerpiece of the backyard the “glue” that holds the outdoor area together. The history of the deck itself is quite fascinating, and spans farther than you probably imagine. Its history and subsequent evolution have much to do with the industrialization and the post-war economy of America… and this is where our story begins…
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until the 1950’s and 1960’s that the backyard became the focal point of recreation and relaxation as it known for today. Up until this time, the backyard served a more practical purpose of sustaining and supporting the family. For example, families kept livestock such as cows, chickens and pigs in their backyard. This utilitarian purposed often resulted in a backyard filled with malodorous odors, from the livestock to — YES the outhouse, which made it less than attractive for relaxing outdoors.
Gradually, outdoor environments evolved into what had once been a place to sustain families to becoming a place of leisure and relaxation instead. This is because Americana itself changed. The evolution of the backyard happened when households shifted from being self-contained to supporting the local economy by becoming consumers of shops and stores. Once indoor plumbing and sanitation became more commonplace, gone were the animals and smells of the outhouse as well as the labor of toiling for that night’s dinner. Leisure suddenly became a popular concept as there was now actually time for relaxation.
Charting the changes of how Americans embraced their outdoor spaces began during the Civil War era, when families would relax after a meal on porches. Looking ahead into the early part of the 20th century, with the invention of the radio in the 1920’s, families would then gather in the living room to listen to the evening’s entertainment. Automobiles were prone to blowing up, so garages were placed to the rear of the lot taking up part of the backyard. The garage eventually became attached to the house in the 1950’s, freeing up space in the backyard. The backyard evolved from a practical space to becoming our refuge and haven from life. The new vision became the idea of having your own little piece of greenspace behind the house in order to relax and to play.
While no one knows who actually invented or takes credit for the concept of the deck, evidence unearthed suggests that patios were used in ancient Israel, either in the courtyard or on the rooftop, as a place of leisure and entertainment. Necessity is the mother of invention, and entertaining in all kinds of weather, especially since the earth can become muddy and messy when it rained, became the impetus and thus, the American deck was born. Just as the porch did in the front of the house years earlier, decks became the answer to the problem and a key element to our homes, defining our backyards.
Decks really started to come into their own in the early 1980’s when homeowners began to think about decks as an extension of their interior living space. Earlier decks were usually a simple 8 x 10 ft. platform. But, as the idea of bringing interior elements outside gained popularity Americans began having a more active, outdoor lifestyle. The popular trend of outdoor cooking made the deck an extension of the kitchen. Instead of a simple grill, the deck can now include an outdoor kitchen equipped with cooktops, refrigerators and warming drawers, not to mention the kitchen sink.
Today, backyards are customized to fit an individual’s artistic expression and style, just like any other space in your home. Decks can be designed to blend naturally with your home and surrounding property including natural elements such as rocks, trees and running water. Decks are so versatile in their design and entertainment value, that they have become the outdoor great room where one can curl up with a good book, swing in a hammock or soak in the hot tub. Today’s multifunctional deck does it all, from being a stand alone structure, to a key element in an outdoor living environment.
Let us build the deck of your dreams and let your imagination run wild. With so many options and amenities available to the homeowner, you can create your own style and have a truly unique outdoor living space customized specifically for you.
Contact Archadeck of Austin today to learn more about getting the most out of your outdoor living environment with a deck upgrade, redecking or new deck addition today.