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About meRenovating my House

Our Front Garden & Driveway Design Idea

When I asked my landscape designer about a circular driveway as a solution to the awkward parking, she said no, but that everyone always thinks that’s the answer. In fact there’s a better solution to our parking situation.

And now that I can visualize it, I’m so excited for our front garden and driveway design idea.  

How to solve an awkward parking situation

When Terreeia and I bought our French Country house (above), my first area of concern was the awkward parking situation.

The moment you have more than just one car parked at the front of the house, you have to back all the way down the driveway in order to get out.

SIDE NOTE: So the reddish brown shutters on this house bother me the most, in addition to the stone that needs to be OVER GROUTED asap! However, the first quote we received was $16,000 to overgrout the stone!!

Anyway, it will be painted in the Spring but I have to settle with it looking like this for now.

Ok, back to our current driveway. What happens when Terreeia and I are parked in the garage and we have visitors also parked in our driveway? Now everyone has to move if we want to get our cars out. That’s not an ideal situation.

 I messaged MaryAnne White (My virtual landscape designer, who helped me design my current garden):

“Do we need a circular driveway?”

HGTV

“No but everyone with property like yours always thinks they need one,” she replied.  “You need a minimum of 55-60 feet in order to make a smooth turn.” See the drawing below.

Wow, seeing how many feet I would actually need to carve out in order to create the circular driveway was eye-opening. And, what I could not imagine or visualize, was how to add more parking, without creating this kind of look:

Parking lot

Especially because I worried that we already had too much concrete in front of the house. Our home design includes a fake third garage which is actually a storage room (below).

Adding a parking bib to the driveway

“Leave it to me” MaryAnne replied, “what you need is a parking bib” and then I received this drawing:

Keep in mind this is a conceptual preliminary drawing. In order to accommodate all the cars and still pull in and out without a 9-point turn you need to create additional space along the driveway.

MaryAnne agreed that we needed the aggregate of concrete where it is because of the third garage but we will take some of it out and install cobblestone for this kind of look:

This is one of MaryAnne’s clients who also had a big driveway. It looks so pretty now with the addition of the cobblestone along the perimeter:

And here’s a look at the front garden, also designed by MaryAnne:

Why I hired a landscape designer

I am thrilled to now have a vision in my head of what the front garden will look like. 

When I worked with MaryAnne on the transformation of my current garden, I remember receiving so many messages from followers who didn’t understand why I needed a landscape designer. They seemed to think that because I’m a designer of interiors that this would somehow make me an expert in gardens as well.

Sometimes we need to be reminded: If you’re not an expert, hire a professional who is. 

Had I tried to conceive of this myself, it would have taken many, many hours of reviewing inspiration images only to end up with a design that would never be what a seasoned professional would do.  And take up way more time than I have, that’s for sure.

I am thrilled to have MaryAnne’s help yet again on this new project! I will probably do another white (and yellow) garden because I still love the white garden I have now. Here’s what the front of our house looked like when we took possession 10 years ago:

Read more: Professionals Know When to Avoid the Obvious

After

And this one always makes me smile, here’s my design studio before:

After

 

Here’s the backyard again including the vegetable garden:

The renovation of our new house is currently in the drywall stage so there’s not much to see, but follow me on Instagram for daily updates here.

My last virtual Specify Colour with Confidence event is happening this Thursday and Friday, also, I know many of you  tried to get into my free decorating webinar last Friday and couldn’t, we didn’t know it had a limit, sorry about that, next time we will be more prepared.

Related posts:

First Rule of Design; Boring New Equals Timeless Later

From Gray Gardens Disaster to a Timeless Blue Exterior, Before & After

Create Gorgeous Curb Appeal with Front Door Colour Ideas

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22 Comments

  • Tina says:

    Maria, you did such great work with your current house, as the before and after pix.show. I just can’t wait to see what you do with the outside of your new house to make it look superb. I’m sure all this work will take some time and I wait with baited breath to see the end results of both outside and inside. I wish you both good luck with all the work that is involved in this wonderful project.

    2
  • Lorri says:

    Maybe some people don’t realize a landscape designer not only creates the design, but also knows what plants will thrive where.

    Hobbyists with a sense of design and knowledge of plants create beautiful gardens (like my grandmother), but without a knowledge of plants, you’d have to do an awful lot of reading and learning before even attempting a design.

    Or else flail around and hope for the best. 😉

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  • Tara Dillard says:

    Does the fake ‘garage’ need to have a garage door? Plenty of historic French Country solutions with zero hint of ‘garage’, yet same generous access. Perhaps hint of historic Orangery or Stone Stable……updated while keeping historic zoning yet with panache & function…..modern solutions/original ‘bones’. Houses begin their dialog from the street. Visitors must think, I MUST GO INSIDE the tiny garage, while at the curb. At present, from the curb thinking is, John boat, junk storage, Gator.

    BTW, where will you keep a ‘Gator’, what type, with enclosure, 2 rows of seats, etc? Do you have to take garbage cans to the street? (Drive them !) Better, the ‘Booze Cruise’ with friends, even better just you and dear T, before or after a dinner, driving about your entire property. Need 2 Gators, Booze Cruise & Yard Work with the dump at back.

    Plan on Aging-in-Place, now. Both of you, your time valuable, myriad layers. If you hire out your entire landscape, keep small portion for yourselves to maintain, easy/near. Why? It’s SACRED. Your body working your blessed part of this Earth. At a minimum: Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/ .

    What ya’ll have already done to the landscaping a ‘release’, your home can breath.

    Great home, and grounds, and VIEWS . Congratulations. BRAVA !!!! Godspeed in all.

    2
  • Nell Byrum says:

    What a thoughtful layout for your parking problem. Yes, you have lots of concrete, even up to the structure. I wonder if your designer has suggested forfeiting the third garage (maybe it could be a studio with windows) so you could have foundation planting like you had in your previous house. You wrote often about the softening of the planting around your previous house. It had so much interest and was amazing. This time it’s hard to look past all the garages and find a beautiful facade and an inviting front door. I’m trusting that you will find a way to make the house the star. If anyone can, you can.

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  • Suzanne Allen says:

    I totally agree with this comment. My pet peeve is front load garages, that huge door ruins your look. You have so many other options for storage, you could absolutely repurpose this space.

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  • Lynn says:

    I can’t wait to see the end result! Will you still be close to your sister’s and your mom’s homes? I know you like to go over for morning coffee😃.

    • Deb says:

      I came to the comments to make the same suggestion about repurposing that third garage space (replacing the garage door with windows) and landscaping in front of it. It was my initial thought upon seeing the first pictures of your beautiful new house!

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    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes this house is still 5 minutes away from my Mom and sisters, hooray! Maria

  • Joanna says:

    My thoughts are the same as others above. If the third garage is only for storage, could you landscape in front of it with perhaps a walkway only? Why do so many homes on the mainland have paved front yards? Absolutely no curb appeal. Your new concept will look so much better but still have a lot of aggregate. Do you need that much parking when only two will live there? Can visitors not park on the road? Will you be leaving the garage when you do have visitors? It’s a beautiful home but the front driveway takes all the attention. You did a wonderful job on your current home and I know you will have a beautiful yard in your new home once it’s all done.

    3
    • Maria Killam says:

      So if the removal and redesign of the 3rd garage was the ONLY thing that I needed to do on the exterior of this house, perhaps I would consider it, however, have you seen this property? It needs a complete overhaul and A LOT of money to fix it. Therefore, I will NOT be ripping out the garage and adding another room with a window there. Thanks for the suggestions though! Maria

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  • Nancy says:

    Maria –
    I know it will end up beautiful
    But have to add :
    I have seen beautiful circular driveways
    That are pavers ( not concrete )
    I’m the center is a large fountain surrounded by gorgeous flower gardens. Around the fountain and lights light it up .
    I have to say when I say it that is where my eyes went .
    I don’t like it if it’s all concrete and nothing else .
    Or just a little patch of grass in the center …

  • Melissa says:

    We have a semi-circular drive as does our neighbor. He is continually angry about turnarounds there and often blocks one entrance. The ease of entrance and exit is enticing to traffic even on our no-traffic road and I was once nearly hit by a fire truck barreling down ours. I agree completely with your designer that a generous arc is necessary or you’ll find even more people will drive off the pavement and damage plantings. This happens often where our concrete meets the road, even with the substantial widening there. Curves seem to invite misjudgment regarding positioning.

    3
  • Mary Catherine Washo says:

    I love how you share your expertise along with your own experiences and limitations. I enjoy looking at the glossy after in magazines but also cherish your more real life examples and approach. Can’t wait to see how your new house evolves. Congratulations!

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  • Bette says:

    I agree with all the previous commenters who suggested doing away with the third storage/garage and adding landscaping in front of it.

    I’m curious what your designer will suggest for privacy along your side property lines. The house is far closer to its neighbors than I realized. Fence? Screening evergreen trees and bushes?

  • A parking bib! Of course! I love that name. Oh Maria this is going to be stunning, truly stunning. I can only imagine that the former owners will think when they see what you are doing!

    1
  • BillP says:

    It is a lovely plan but your guests will need some direction (and training) on where to park. Maybe Canadians are more polite than US drivers? Here the tendency would still be to pull straight in all the way forward- anything to get as close to the front door as possible. Is the solution to put up a “Guests Park Here” sign? Maybe put in a gate at the entrance to your “inner courtyard”?

  • Penny says:

    Maryanne hit it out of the park . . . Again. With the curving and grouped plantings this drive will look like a flowing path rather than a straight line of cement. One should never underestimate the power of professional hard and soft landscaping and design. This is going to make a beautiful before and after!

  • Joanna says:

    I don’t think there were any suggestions of ripping out the garage but replacing the big garage door with a regular door, adding a path and gardens would increase your curb appeal.

    1
    • Maria Killam says:

      The concrete is still needed at the front of the house for the two cars to back out of the actual garage and turn onto the driveway, for this reason, this idea will not work. But thanks for your suggestion! Maria

  • Mimi says:

    Long, low profile planters work wonders along hardscapes to soften and add colour without tearing anything out. Bonus-(like any raised garden), they are easy on the back and can be moved around. Can’t wait for the unfolding designs inside and out Maria!

  • Fiona says:

    I love it. I wonder if Mary Anne could write a guest post for all of us, on her landscape design process. I would love to know more!

    3
  • Limo says:

    I am from Europe and I always wonder, why people from the USA allow the ugly garages and cars ruin the view of the beautiful house and front garden. If I had the space, I would hide these things in the backyard.

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