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.