walkway this way?

As we near an almost-but-not-quite foreseeable end to backyard projects, it’s time to turn some attention to the front of the house. It’s been an eyesore since we moved in.

First, we had to move that massive pile of stone left by the previous owner…

rocky menace


Then we had enough logs to build a second home…

logs out front




















And always, weeds up to our armpits…

front, avec weeds




















Basically, it’s looked like a disaster for three years now. The neighbors have been very polite about it. I finally weeded in preparation for this hillside’s big change and topped it off with a little soil. I’ll likely add more…

hillside finally weeded




















We just started talking to our hardscape guy about possibly adding a few steps up the slope from the street before winter. It sucks having to shimmy alongside the cars in the driveway to get to the entry. Especially if you’re the postman.

Irving Haynes, the architect of chez ici, originally envisioned the house as having a walkway. You can see it in this rendering from 1971 (click to biggify)…

architectural rendering of our house, circa ’70 | Haynes and Associates









See? Steps coming down the hill in a straight shot to the steps at the front door. There must have been budget issues and that idea got nixed. Bummer. We won’t be pouring any more concrete, so that design is out. Will keep you up to date as we discuss ideas.

In any case, these are the steps leading up to our front door…

front steps 1




















About that black mat…

front steps 2




















It was left in that very spot by the last owner. We kept it there to cover the crack, which ruins the otherwise intact concrete. I don’t want to rip out the original concrete if we can avoid it. So I was just thinking…

front steps 3




















What if there was a way to remove only the bit of concrete from the chalkline to just in front of the lower step?

We couldn’t match the vintage concrete, obviously. But we could replace it with something else. Like a permanent sort of welcome mat. Just thinking out loud here but it could be made of:

Mexican beach stone, like the border around our house. Could lay flat

island stone, perfect pebble in medan charcoal | islandstone.com











Or could be placed on end  (stacked)..

ann sacks pebble tile, bali in black and gray | annsacks.com






Reminds me of that gorgeous, handcrafted pebble walkway at Denver Botanic…

pebble walkway in the asian garden | shot at denver botanic garden












We could do it ourselves or buy pre-made tiles. Would carry a material we’re already using around to the front for a small detail area. I like that.

But I’m open to other possibilities…

  • A rectangle of colored concrete (small enough that we could mix it ourselves).
  • Tile or paint a “welcome” message on the concrete… like, um, HOME or YOU ARE HERE or BE NICE or some such message. Could also possibly inlay with off-ends from the granite we’re using on the patios and steps.
  • Tile, paint or inlay our house number in the concrete patch.
  • Press cast aluminum numbers (or even letters) in a modern font into the concrete patch.
  • Re-create one of Irving B. Haynes’ blocky or triangular artworks in tile. A little tribute to the architect right at our doorstep.


What would you do?

4 Responses to “walkway this way?”

  1. Jennifer says:

    might that pretty pebble border be awfully slippery with a coating of ice and snow on it?? i love your last idea, maybe make a tile mosaic tribute? there’s some work for you in your spare time!…or get a RISD ceramics person to do it??

  2. Brook says:

    hmmm… 18″ deep, which means you definitely have to step on it to get to the stairs. as long as the stones aren’t too prominent above the concrete, it may not be an issue, but i see what you mean. let’s avoid lawsuits. would definitely consider hiring an artist!

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