It’s hard to believe the deck where Jeanne Cunningham spends most of her mornings was ever in shambles.
Cunningham and her husband, Kevin, bought their west-side home in 1985. There was a patio on top of a garage of the front corner of the house.
“It was kind of in sorry shape,” Jeanne recalls.
The couple decided to repaint the patio in 1999 but discovered there were structural issues with it and the garage on which it was located. The entire patio and garage were jackhammered out, the house was supported with beams — it received no cracks, thankfully, from all of the work that was done — and a new garage was built. The garage was reinforced with steel bars, and a concrete patio was poured on top. The concrete was stamped to make it look like brick on the sides of the garage and stone for the deck flooring.
Jeanne says the result is a very strong and sturdy deck.
“It will be here forever,” she says.
The deck is lined with white railings and is accessible both from steps that lead up from the driveway and front lawn and through the sliding patio doors off the Cunningham’s kitchen.
While Jeanne enjoys the deck almost every day, it’s the Cunningham’s canine family member that seems to enjoy it the most. Barney, their red and white beagle, likes to be outside and lay on the deck. The couple’s property has an invisible fence to retain Barney, but he enjoys watching people in the neighborhood and chasing chipmunks and squirrels that he spots from his high perch.
Jeanne says she likes the convenience of having the deck located right off the kitchen. The Cunninghams installed a doggie screen so Barney can come and go as he pleases from the house to the deck.
There is a large shade tree that extends over the corner of the deck. That tree, combined with the mature trees in the couple’s yard, the trees that line the driveway, and the trees located on a next-door lot that are part of a bird sanctuary, make Jeanne feel as though she’s in the country. Because of that designation, the neighboring property won’t be developed, and Jeanne says it will help her property retain its country feel.
“It’s really very private here considering I’m in the city and so close to Ingersoll (Avenue),” she says.
Jeanne has decorated the deck with wrought iron patio furniture that includes a baker’s rack with potted plants. She’s planted a wide range of plant varieties in the pots, many of which are painted black, throughout the space.
Jeanne can be found on the deck most mornings while she reads the newspaper. The deck gets some morning sun but is then shaded in the afternoon. Jeanne likes to relax and read on the deck in the late afternoons.
She says she enjoys the view from the deck and being able to see what’s happening in her neighborhood. She’ll sit and greet neighbors as they walk by, and they’ll greet her back.
The only negative to the deck has been all of the mosquitoes as of late, which Jeanne says has limited her use of it during certain times of day.
West-side couple enjoys social time that being on their deck provides
Joe and Jo Kobes had a small patio on the back side of their home when they first moved into their west-side residence in 1991.
Joe says it didn’t work well for the layout of the house. The couple likes to cook, grill and eat outdoors. With the patio on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen, they had to transport food through several rooms for grilling and eating.
Joe was an architect and knew there was a better way for the house to be set up that would complement the couple’s love for cooking along with their need for a better outdoor space.
In 1993, he designed an expanded kitchen with two ovens and two sinks that then led to a new deck space outside patio doors from that kitchen. A counter space sits directly inside the door, which Joe says is great for transporting food from kitchen to the grill and vice versa.
Jo says the proximity of the deck to the kitchen makes it so that the couple can grill year-round if they so choose.
The couple’s lot allowed them to build onto their house toward the south. Joe placed the deck on the southwest corner of the house in order to protect it from the hot afternoon son. It’s tucked in a corner behind the garage, and even though the couple lives along Grand Avenue, the busy road is not visible from the deck, and its location behind the garage protects it from traffic noise.
The couple uses their deck mostly during nice weather and can be found outside many evenings.
Joe says he designed the deck so there are cut-outs to bring landscaping into the deck. Originally, the couple had small trees planted within the deck, but they did not receive enough sunlight. Those have been replaced with hostas, which are more hardy and need less light to grow.
Joe also says he wanted the deck to be positioned so that when he and Jo were sitting outside, they could look down 51st Street and admire all of the mature trees that line the street and are in their neighbors’ front yards.
Jo says she enjoys the family’s deck so much that she would sit out there all of the time if she could. Many times the couple will enjoy a glass of wine or a beer outdoors, and it will then turn into a social time with their neighbors. She says the couple hosts organized gatherings, but most of their social events just start out with neighbors seeing them outside and coming over.
Oftentimes neighbors will bring over their own bottle of wine or beverage and join the Kobes for a drink or for part of an evening. Many of the Kobes’ neighbors have young children, and the couple enjoys watching them play in their yards. Jo says she also likes to watch neighbors and others walking along the street or riding their bicycles and wave to them and them to her.
Joe says the location of the deck allows for their neighbors to come over and socialize while still being able to watch their children play in the large grassy area located just off of the Kobes’ deck.
The deck is decorated with a small bistro table with an umbrella, a bench, a grill, potted plants and hanging baskets. The Kobes have a couple of bird feeders also around the deck. They have planted hostas and other landscaping around the deck.
“We just sit out there all of the time,” Jo says.