Front steps design and relocation and walkway design advice
jennorbug
May 29, 2014 in Design Dilemma
The photo posted was our home before we purchased it. Built in 1920 - arts and crafts style. The front entry steps are on the (east) side of the house, even though the front door itself faces the street (north), and the driveway and original garage are on the opposite (west) side of the home. The whole situation makes for a lot of confusion from visitors and guests who never quite understand where to park and where to enter. We would ultimately like to relocate the front entry stairs to the center of the porch - facing the street- to add curb appeal and to add clarity to the general traffic flow when we have guests. One thing worth noting is the front door is not exactly centered with the center of our porch and therefore will not be "exactly" centered with the new entry stairs. We're unsure how distracting it will be in the end, as the symmetry will not be perfect. The centers of each are only off by about 4 inches, but I'm a perfectionist and its enough to bug me. This leads to the next issue: how do we incorporate a new walkway that fits the style of the home and makes reaching the front door from both the driveway and the street obvious and welcoming? I am concerned that a straight linear walkway will only highlight the fact that the door is not perfectly centered. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Should the stairs be centered on the porch or centered with the door? Any photos or sketched examples would be extremely helpful. Thanks in advance. I can't wait to get started.
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PRO
ppf.
Why not add matching steps on the west side?
May 29, 2014 at 2:36PM     
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jennorbug
I have had that suggested to me in the past. Here are my gripes: 1) For the cost of new stairs I feel like I would rather it be in the center of the house - that's the most aesthetically pleasing option in my opinion 2) Stair case on both sides means the whole front porch would be open to "view" from neighbors on each side - so no privacy and I prefer the idea of a quiet sit on the porch swing...oh yeah 3) I want to keep my porch swing - so to enter from either side of the porch one would have to walk around the porch swing 4) I have very young kids and although they will grow and I will get over it - I do like to put up a gate to keep them from leaving the porch and getting too near the street - I can only imagine the hassle of keeping 2 gates at the ready to keep my kids captive ;)
Also, for the record, we intend to completely dismantle the existing stairs - so that (east) side of the porch will be closed off as the front and (west) side are now.
May 29, 2014 at 3:11PM   
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accbelton
Center the steps on the porch, but make them a generous width - that way you will not notice that the door and steps are not centered to each other. You can have a custom gate made when the stairs are built which can slide off to one side when not needed. For the path, either do curves or, to better work with the arts and crafts linearity, straight but with one or more right angle jogs. Paths like these made from a stone such as bluestone are very elegant and can be a good diy project.
May 29, 2014 at 3:54PM   
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PRO
ppf.
The front is not symmetrical -- door not centered, different windows, maybe offset steps to one side?
May 29, 2014 at 4:21PM   
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jennorbug
I've attached another photo I found that has a more square view - looking straight on - at the alignment between the porch/porch light/door/windows. You can see that the windows on each side of the door are the same, but there is more space between the door and windows on the left than there is between the door and windows on the right. Our porch swing is currently on the right side but we are fine with moving it to the left side once the stairs are relocated - it might help balance things out ??
May 29, 2014 at 5:09PM   
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Libbmom
Put a light and house numbers in the left of the door...
May 29, 2014 at 5:32PM   
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Libbmom
Rather than repositioning the steps...have you thought about opening up the porch and putting railings around? For the privacy...hanging outdoor curtains that can be pulled when needed?
May 29, 2014 at 5:35PM   
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PRO
ppf.
I was thinking sidelight? Will you be changing the wall around the porch, or just cutting a notch for the new stairs?

I'm the type that that door would bother me too. Living and dining on either side? what would it take to move the door?
May 29, 2014 at 5:37PM   
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jennorbug
Thanks everyone. I do like the idea of the sidelight and am now considering removing the overhead light - to me it has a lot to do with the distraction that the door is not centered on the porch. With our driveway on the opposite side of our house, leaving the steps as is makes getting to the front door incredibly awkward - our guests literally do not know whether to park on the street and follow the sidewalk on the east side of our home (the only logical and paved way to get to the front door) or park in the driveway on the west side of our home (where you would assume a guest would be welcomed to park). BTW - we have a fire hydrant in front of our home and I am fighting to have it moved to the property line so it is not such a hassle, since you cannot park within so many feet of a hydrant......

The front door is right up against a bedroom on the right (but it doesn't need to move right - it needs to move left 4 inches) and it opens directly into the living room on the left. I think the door position was selected based on the fact that it opens to and is a straight shot into the hallway that leads to the dining room, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and another bedroom. Besides light switches that are right beside the door on the living room wall - there is really no reason the door couldn't be moved, but............my husband will probably never go for it - would any sane person tear up a plaster wall and move light switches/wiring and redo the siding outside the door frame JUST to reposition the front door 4" to the left???!! Me? - I'd jump on the idea so fast I'd hardly consider everything I just forced myself to consider - tight budget will do that to you! ;) I really appreciate everyone's ideas, it is forcing me to really think about this and to consider how others see it - not just how I see it.

Our overall goal is to make the entrance accessible from the driveway and to make it look aesthetically pleasing so as to make our home more attractive from the street and while entering. Real "curb appeal" will hopefully come with landscaping and when we paint (read: my husband gives me the go-ahead to tear off the hideous vinyl siding - is it even a color??? I have people all the time ask if we live in the yellow house???!! WT*??!! It doesn't read yellow to me, but I'm at a loss to accurately describe it) - I'm thinking a historically accurate dusky green color currently......we shall see.
May 30, 2014 at 6:24AM   
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