Improve your deck and rejuvenate yourself

Story & Photos by JAIX CHAIX
Practically everywhere in the Flathead Valley, there is some inspiring view of nature or a connection to the outdoors to take in. This helps explain why so many homes typically share a common feature: a deck (aka the “outdoor living space”).

We’re not talking porches or patios here, we’re talking decks: (technically speaking) some form of platform, above the ground, made of some kind of wood or timber.

Decks can be simple and square, or tiered and treated, but they are all intended for the same purpose: to let us somehow enjoy the outdoors – just outside the door.

For those of you who already know that a deck can be an “outdoor oasis,” then make it your mission this spring to inspire others – especially those who answer “yes” to any of the following questions.

Is your deck just a place where you keep beer cold in the winter? Is your deck just a place to put the dogs when the cable guy shows up? Is your deck a barren, wood-clad, exterior-appendage with merely a couple of (cracked) plastic chairs and a grill (with a propane tank last filled sometime before 2010)?

If so, then it’s time to seriously consider some deck-improvement-therapy.

Sure, the economy has been brutal the past several years, the housing market has been nothing to cheer about, and we’ve all been working more and somehow gaining less. But these are all reasons to embrace your deck for what it should be: a “special place” to enjoy the outdoors (or at least savor your morning coffee or your evening wine). A deck should be a place for pause from all the other chaos and clutter. And a place where you can enjoy one of life’s simplest pleasures: letting the outdoors rejuvenate your soul and spirit (even if it is just one cup of coffee, or chapter of a book, at a time).

If your deck has become forgotten and forlorn, keep in mind that just two things can be home-beautifying and life-changing: a little improvement and a bit of habit – that is, making a habit of actually taking the time to enjoy your deck and the outdoors.

And unlike other home improvement projects, the best way to improve your deck is to put yourself first. Yes, nevermind “re-sale value,” and other real estate agent mantras (such as “kitchens and baths get you the most bang for your home-improvement buck”).

When it comes to improving your deck, put yourself – and the connection between the outdoors and your soul – at the top of the priority list. Make your deck “just right” for you, your special someone, your family, or whoever will be using it most. And don’t skimp on the “special” part, because the more cozy, cheerful and comfortable your deck is, the more likely you will use it and enjoy it.

It’s also best to start small – and don’t be seduced by the latest, greatest, and permanent “outdoor kitchen,” stainless-granite-whatever fads or BTU-blazing outdoor heating gadgets.

You don’t need to spend a lot to get the most out of enjoying your deck. For example, a folding chair with a cushion for comfort, and a few well-placed, whimsical lights for ambiance, may be all it takes to make your deck more like the outdoor living space it should be.

So this spring, take heed that it is a time for rejuvenation – and a good time to improve your deck – and rejuvenate yourself.