Saturday, June 14, 2014

Curb Appeal in the Country

One of the odd things we noticed when we first looked at the house with our realtor was the nonexistent front door.  

In typical suburban fashion, houses have a main door facing the street, usually with some sort of porch, deck, welcoming area and path.  Houses often also have a side or back door but these are not obvious and don’t usually have large porches attached to them.  When we first pulled up to the farmhouse, I immediately noticed that there was no “front” door.  There are actually 4 entrances into the house and non are obviously a “main entrance”.  Two doors were on either side of the house toward the front; one on the south side which opens to the dining area and one to the north side which opens to the kitchen and is attached to the screened in porch.  The house didn’t really have a distinguished driveway; to the south was lightly graveled area with room for two cars front to back and to the north was a garage and gravel drive down to the barn.

When we moved in two years ago, I determined that the north side would be our main entrance.  It looked the most inviting with steps leading to the screened in porch.  I thought it would be nice to make the porch into a mud room where we could dump coats, boots and bags before entering the house.  Flash forward two years and we now use the south door as our main entrance.  What changed?  Well, winter for one.  The screened porch is not heated and gets VERY cold making for very cold coats, hats, gloves and boots during the winter.  Not ideal.  Secondly, from the drive up to the north door there is a slight, very uneven hill which is not appealing when walking up with two kids and a car of groceries.  

So now that the south door was decided our “main” entrance, we wanted to make it more obvious and more welcoming.  We don’t get tons of foot traffic to the old farm, but we do have daily UPS drop-offs and frequent piano students in the evenings.  

During the winter that would never end, we paid attention to the path our neighbor plowed out for us from the driveway area to the door and marked it for a gravel path.  Once spring (finally) came, we called a local gravel supplier and had a truck load of white road gravel dumped in the driveway area.  We first spread out the gravel to make a nice and large two car driveway.  I dragged two planters that Andy made out of old doors to the top of the driveway to make a more visible curb for cars.

From here, we marked out the walkway we wanted from the driveway to the house and to the deck and took the grass up with a sod cutter.  (When I went to the rental place to pick up the sod cutter, I couldn’t remember the official name so I asked for the grass cutter.  They looked at me really strangely but thankfully Andy had called it in earlier and they pulled out the correct tool.  Upon reflection, I guess a grass cutter would just be a law mower so that would explain the weird looks).  

Andy made two passes with the sod cutter so we got down a good 1” into the ground.  

We then went back and shoveled out another few inches so we had a nice sunken path to lay the gravel.  To help prevent weeds coming though, we cut and laid down weed mat.  

Wheelbarrow full by wheelbarrow full, we dumped and spread the extra gravel from the drive a good 3” deep down the pathway.

Immediately, we noticed a difference in the amount of dirt, mud and tree debris that was coming into the house.  It is also nice when we get a lot of rain so we don’t have to cross a lake to get to our cars.

Once we finished the paths, we used the sod cutter again to make a new garden bed between the driveway and the pathway.  Andy wanted to just gravel this whole area in but I thought it would be nice to have a garden area as a focal point to the “front” of the house.  We transplanted several plants from our house in DeKalb to make an instant garden!  

Andy cut up a stump to create a stepping path so we can also use this way to get to the door.  The kids love it! 

On the other side of the door, I transplanted some more plants from DeKalb and created a planter from an old bucket and stool I found in one of our outbuildings.

We still have plans to bust up the steps leading to the door and make a larger landing on the top step so it is more inviting and easier to get in the house with arms full of groceries and children.  We hope to do this over the summer.  For now, we are thrilled our update curb appeal!

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