All hands on deck


It all began with a party. Two summers ago, two of PK Ross’ roommates were celebrating August birthdays and one enlisted her help to decorate for the party. They hung strings of lights under the eaves, then draped window shears overhead to create a relaxing canopy. Since then, they’ve added a few side tables, flowering plants and solar-powered lights, making it the ideal collective space for the Fifeville house’s six roommates.

These days, the deck’s split, however unintentionally, into three separate nooks: one for lounging, one for eating and one for smoking. “Even if someone’s eating at the table or smoking under the overhang,” says Ross, who owns Splendora’s, “you can still read in the sun and feel like you’re in your own space.” 

Before purchasing the Downtown gelato shop, Ross’ workday hours ended whenever she was finished preparing sweet treats. The deck, often empty in the middle of the day, became a respite.

“I was getting home at noon or 1 or 3, and going out to the back deck was a concrete feeling of being home. It’s comfortable and quiet back there and really made the house feel like it was mine for a while.”

More than a deck

“It can be a quiet hangout where you can tan a little bit during the day and read and play with the dogs. It’s great for brunch and dinner. We sometimes have something called ‘Sunday, Drunkie Sunday’ which involves breakfast and mimosas or daiquiris.

“And sometimes Lady Gaga happens and it’s the occasional dance party. It’s never really wild. It’s usually friends of people in the house. Sometimes it feels like more people are on the deck than in reality because of how animated conversations can get. And the dogs, of course, running around and barking and chasing balls and sticks.

“All of the trees surrounding our house make the deck seem very insular but we do see—and, truth be told, sometimes judge—other people’s back yards. Two houses down, [they have] this really beautiful huge deck. When the leaves are gone in the fall, we can see it from our deck and we get a little deck envy. 

“I used to live in Belmont, around the corner from MAS, when all the noise ordinance things were starting, so even living in Fifeville has been quieter. The neighborhood has changed a little bit in three years. There used to be louder people who lived on the street behind us, but they’ve moved. I used to hear firecrackers every Tuesday for some reason.

“It’s funny, the circumstances of my moving into the house wouldn’t seem to lend themselves to how at home I feel now. There’s been a core group of four people who’ve been there a while: Adam and Paul, Robin, then me. The other rooms have changed a bunch (seven people between the two other rooms), but it’s been more or less six people total in the house at a time. It’s not as crowded as that seems. People have different schedules and you just kind of make room where you need to. We’re a house of misfit toys, more or less, but it works.

“You sit on the porch and talk and suddenly you realize you really didn’t say anything at all when you try and remember.”

“Even if someone’s eating at the table or smoking under the overhang, you can still read in the sun and feel like you’re in your own space.”