From Drab Drive to Private Getaway
Denny-Blaine Outdoor Revival
Unifying a drive and outdoor living space for friendly, yet private, family gathering.
These homeowners wanted a beautiful, approachable entry to their property and home, but crumbling concrete and foreboding, overgrown plantings were keeping the house from living up to its potential. Without a cohesive design, the existing approach to their home fell short of their vision and created a confusing experience for guests. Ready for an improved and unified outdoor experience, they looked to us to help them create a welcoming site: friendly, while still providing the right amount of privacy.
The entry sequence offered the first challenge. An old fence, failing concrete, and a mix of materials made finding the front door – located at the side of the house – difficult to navigate. The existing parking pad, finished in brick, felt at odds with the lovely, old brick pavers lining the drive. Bluestone replaced the crumbling concrete for a simplified and modern approach to the house. Stone-clad walls were added to either side of the driveway to frame and celebrate the updated entry from the street. A new fence and updated plantings complete the look and help conceal the new parking pad finished in durable concrete and a car-charging station.
Modifying the parking pad added other benefits to the home, too. By lowering it by approximately one foot, the presence of cars parked at the home is lessened, allowing other elements of the home’s updated site to shine through. Plus, the living room windows, whose views were once occupied primarily by cars, now have a clear view of a small park and pond just across the street.
The home’s entry was enlivened with seasonal plantings, like a Black Magnolia Tree, featuring opulent, goblet-shaped blossoms. An eye-catching highlight, its dark purple, springtime blooms can appear almost black.
With only a small walk separating their entry from the neighbors, maintaining privacy was still of importance to the clients, but the existing laurel was a challenge to maintain. We opted to replace the laurel with a row of mature yew, which not only provides denser vegetation for better privacy but also feels more modern and is easier to maintain.
Though a few structural trees remain, most of the plantings are new and designed to accentuate the home’s views and updated outdoor spaces. Strategic layers of color, texture, and lighting add vibrancy to key areas including a Julie Speidel sculpture which required careful sculpting of the existing hedge for a perfect frame and fit.
Beyond the drive and entry, the side and back yards, though spacious, felt compartmented by unnecessary grade changes and a porch with too many posts. A desire for gathering spaces and a space for a ping pong table for their teenage son meant reworking these areas into cohesive and usable spaces.
We leveled the yard and raised the grade at the porch to be flush with the home’s interior. Bluestone – the same we used at the driveway – provides the foundation for a patio sized to accommodate an eating area and the ping pong table. The consistency of the palette in the bluestone and the gray wood tones of the new deck brings uniformity to the entire outdoor experience.
A careful reconfiguration of the porch roof allowed many of the support posts to be removed for a more open flow. The more spacious feel creates the perfect canvas for the homeowners’ collection of outdoor pots which now overflow with bright, seasonal plantings. Added heaters and lighting make this once uncomfortable area the picture-perfect spot to enjoy their new space year-round.
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