Hello all, it’s Martin with you this week. I’m fresh from my travels to the Southeast and I’ve got some cool things to share with you. During my visit with friends, we found some unique sites to see like the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition called Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard. I know some of you are thinking what a lame thing to do on your vacation. Well, if you read my posts, you know I spend just as much time on my back deck as I do in my house. So when the opportunity came up to learn about the evolution of the modern patio, well, geeky me bought my ticket and got a history lesson on the birth of the DIYer and backyard living spaces.
Here’s the professor Martin synopsis of what I learned: After World War II, the American middle-class took shape, and with it, a need to keep up with the Jones’ so to speak. Which meant a lot more entertaining—specifically outside on patios with the latest BBQ grill, swimming pool, lush landscaping, and patio furniture. The new glossy lifestyle magazines with their full-color pages of groovy (yep, I just used that word) backyard outdoor “rooms” caused Americans to go gaga over the outdoor products from unexpected materials like metals, aluminum, and plastics. And if homeowners couldn’t afford the high-end products, they recreated them themselves from materials that were marketed to consumers, giving rise to the do-it-yourself generation. Check out this photo from the October 1954 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine marketing translucent plastic panels for the DIYers to make a patio sunshade—a less expensive alternative to the large metal patio awnings.
All of this got me thinking about the modern products we use today to build our own outdoor living rooms. Those mid-century modern plastics and metals eventually gave way to natural wood in the 70’s and 80’s, and we seem to have come full circle back to more durable, rot- and mold-resistant products like PVC and vinyl. That’s the attractiveness of deck and porch materials like those from Inteplast Building Products. They’re lasting, lightweight, low-maintenance, and moisture resistant so you can even put them pool side. But they still have the look and workability of traditional wood. What makes them really groovy (I promise, that’s the last time I’ll use that word), is their variety of colors and grains to fit any design style and taste.
One thing is for sure, the popularity of outdoor living rooms is as strong as ever. I think now we’re not so much concerned with showing-off like that crazy Jones family, but instead we like being outdoors because we’re more focused on the environment, natural spaces, and fresh air. But of course we still enjoy gathering with friends and family.
That’s it for me this week. Thanks for indulging in my brief tour down memory lane, and have a gr—eat day (I almost said it). As always, let me know what I can help you with!
Martin (and Harley)