Because it’s Thanksgiving week and the 2011 holiday season has kicked off in earnest, we thought it would be nice to focus on a couple of things we’re thankful for in this project feature.
Clearly, we’re thankful for each chance we get to be creative and transform someone’s outdoor space into something truly special. But sometimes you get a project that comes together quickly and a process that goes smoothly the whole time – and this was one of those.
We’re especially thankful for projects like the O’Keefe family’s: We began the design process in March 2010 and we were done before summer began that same year. The husband and wife who hired us were really looking to set their home apart from the others in their housing development, and their perfect opportunity was staring straight at them… up a very steep incline.
Creating a Focal Point
As a newly constructed home, the house had no true entrance or central focal point, so we set out to create that. With about 9 feet of elevation difference between the driveway – which snakes around the side of the house to the garage – and the front door, we had a lot of space to work with, and we wanted to create something special. Before we got started, there was little more than a sloped gravel path leading to the door!
The obvious choice with an elevation change like that is a steep staircase, but that’s no fun… and not terribly practical considering the crazy winters we get around here. A tall set of steps combined with the kinds of snow and ice the cold months bring with them is an accident waiting to happen. So we designed a winding path with short series of steps separated by long runs of walkway, with a short wall on either side of the steps.
Adding Walls for Structure
At the top of the first set of steps, just up from the driveway, we added seat walls to create a lookout to the point near the O’Keefes’ home. It’s also a great spot to sit and admire the American flag raised high above their property. (Both husband and wife are retired NYPD officers – thanks to both of them for their service!)
Our Neave Group designers are big fans of Belgard materials, and we were thrilled to experiment with a brand new material from them this time around. The stone is Belgard’s BelAir Wall Block, and the pavers are Belgard Mega Lafitt, which creates the look of beautiful natural flagstone.
Plantings for Show
The walkway is definitely the focal point of this project, but no landscape is complete without plantings: We planted andromeda, hydrangea, dogwoods, spirea, daylily, roses, Russian sage and balloon flower – just to name a few.
There’s one plant in the landscape that Mrs. O’Keefe was adamant about: stewartia, a shrub that’s native to Japan. It’s lovely, with dark-green foliage and flowers that look a lot like camellia blossoms – but this was special to her because there was one in her yard growing up, and she really wanted to include that in her own landscape. The rest of the plants are hardy in our climate and will become even more beautiful as time passes.
Can you imagine it during this holiday season? Trimmed with beautiful, tiny white lights or lined with luminaries for a Christmas party – leading up to that stunning, Southern-inspired veranda and a cheerful, welcoming front door, that walkway will make a bold statement no matter the weather.
The O’Keefes were thrilled with their new entrance, both for its easy access to their front door from the driveway and the distinction it gives the property among the other homes in the development. We’re thankful for clients like them, who make our jobs feel more like a hobby we get to enjoy every day – and give us the opportunity to keep their homes looking stunning all year round.