Curb Appeal

We live in a neo-traditional neighborhood. I’m a geek for neo-traditional architecture – ever since my numbered days as an architecture major I’ve been infatuated with neighborhoods like Seaside in Florida – think The Truman Show – and Prospect here in Colorado. The premise behind New Urbanism in neighborhoods like these is that you have everything you need within walking distance. You should interact with your neighbors, walk to parks, eat at neighborhood restaurants, etc. It’s a return to the way things used to be. Grandly speaking, New Urbanism hasn’t been widely adopted or successful. But the architectural style associated with the movement has caught on and and neo-traditional neighborhood design is becoming widespread.

Now for the point. Along with our neo-traditional house came builder standard landscaping. Blah. Everyone has the same. The same steep front steps leading up to big front porches. The same 4 trees and 10 shrubs in a rockbed. It’s bleak – especially in the winter.

Right after we moved in, our next door neighbors did the unthinkable. They tore out their builder grade blahness and put in the most lovely landscaping. How dare they up the curb appeal on us. Now we stand in direct comparison to Jerry and Sandy next door. Granted, on the other side there used to be a weed the size of the Statue of Liberty, so we’re not looking too shabby as a whole.

Anyway, our steps have sunk, and we need to replace them before Halloween. Mr. B has a stroke every Halloween when he worries about little Spidermen tripping on our sunken front step. So Halloween is our self-imposed deadline for having the steps fixed. And with the news that we’ll have to tear out our steps, we thought – hmmmm….maybe it’s time for US to up the curb appeal.

So here’s a little sketch of what we’re envisioning (but remember I’m an ex-architecture major, so my design skills are lacking). Widening the top steps for safety, stoop sitting, happy hour with the neighbors and switching up the standard 10 steps straight up of the neighborhood. While we’re widening the steps, installing a very small retaining wall to level out our sloping gardens. Replacing the rock with mulch to soften and break-up all the gray of our house – stonework, paint color and eventual retaining wall. And the builder grade shrubs just never rang true to me for the neighborhood – our house is cottagey, we should have a cottage garden. I planted the hydrangeas last fall, and if they come back, the rest of the garden will be going Cottage Garden, too.


  1. We have the same problem – blah for the front. We’re too busy working on the backyard, though, to spend any money on the front. As the wife of a geo-technical engineer (a guy who deals with dirt), I do have to warn you about putting plants too close to your foundation. Getting that much water on your foundation is bad -especially if you guys have a basement. I just feel obligated to pass on the fear my husband has instilled in me.

  2. I adore Prospect! It would be like living in a TV show (Wisteria Lane w/out the scandels).

    Like I told Katie on her curb appeal post, our house is so scary trick or treaters won’t even come by on Halloween.

    But if my house exterior looked like yours, I would probably have several lawsuits on my hand from tripping guest, b/c who cares about the steps?! I love your house’s gorgeous exterior!

  3. Oooh love it! The wide steps are a definite must have. I’m glad your neighbors got rid of the 8 foot weed – that was a funny post. My neighbors have decided to plant 2 foot maple saplings 5 feet from our property line all up and down the whole side. Who does that??

  4. Unfortunately, the foreclosure we bought has NO landscaping whatsoever. We’re working on that…

    Also…thank you for enlightening me to the precise type of house/community that I’ve always loved but didn’t have a name for.

  5. I like! We need to fancy up our landscaping this spring too. I’m already dreading how much work (and $$) it is going to be!

  6. Your shutters have brightened my day. 🙂 G’luck with the landscaping. It’s amazing how much a difference flowering plants can make.

  7. Your home is adorable! I love it!

    I really love how you made the steps wider. That’s brilliant, I tell you.

    Love the cottage-y flowers. I’m also trying to get my arms around a landscaping plan for this year. I got a good start this weekend but I’m having a difficult time deciding on specific plants. I took Katie’s suggestion and have been browsing Where did you start?

  8. Gorgeous! You have a beautiful vision! (and good photoshopping skills!!)

    I always wonder what the outside of everyone’s houses look like. (since the insides are so pretty, it’s fun to wonder about the outsides) Yours is already so nice, but I can’t wait to see what it looks like in the end!

    Also… ignore the email I sent you. I figured out how to match the tabletop color! 🙂

  9. “Now we stand in direct comparison to Jerry and Sandy next door.”

    This line made me lol! Their last name wouldn’t happen to be “Jones” would it?

    I love your idea of widening the top steps–very nice!