Driveway and Sidewalk Decisions (Visualized In Spray Paint)

Yesterday, I headed to Home Depot and stocked up on several cans of neon orange and green spray paint so I could start marking off some driveway and sidewalk ideas, and start working towards some final decisions.

The driveway is going to cost quite a bit, and I honestly don’t know when we’ll be able to get that done. But the front sidewalk needs to be done ASAP. I can’t build new steps to the front porch until the new sidewalk is poured since the finished height of the sidewalk will determine the height of the steps. And the front steps are very dangerous right now. The first two steps are 5.5 inches high, and the last step is 9.5 inches high. If I know someone is coming over, I try to meet them out there before they even get to the steps because they’re such a tripping hazard.

My contractor came over on Tuesday, and we used the garden hose to mark off the right side of the driveway from the street to the gate on the right side of the studio. What we ended up with was a really nice, gently curved form. So yesterday I used the spray paint to mark that side, and then tried to measure and mark the left side. The left side still needs a bit of tweaking (I didn’t get such a pretty gentle curve that’s on the right side), but this is pretty much what the driveway will look like…

The current chain link gate is too narrow, but the plan from the beginning has been to remove that fence and gate and replace it with a really nice fence with a wide gate that opens with a remote and keypad.

The driveway plan really isn’t that flexible. A few people suggested putting the entrance from the street on the other side of the pecan tree, but as you can see, that’s not my property. I have great neighbors, but I think asking if I can put my driveway on their property might be a bit of a stretch. 😀

And cutting down the tree simply isn’t an option. That tree produces a ton of pecans every year, and it’s just a nice tree. The tree has the right-of-way in this situation. I’ll work around it.

A couple of people said that as long as the street entrance is in front of the studio, it’s always going to look like a garage conversion. I disagree. I think especially when it’s all done, with window boxes, landscaping, landscape lighting, a nice gate/fence on the side, etc., I really don’t think “garage conversion” is going to be people’s first impression of the studio.

Anyway, on to the front sidewalk. I decide to stick with a mostly straight sidewalk to the street. I played around with a few different shapes where it meets the front porch. The key here is that it needs to be wide where it meets the porch in order to accommodate my new, much wider steps. The handrails for the new steps are going to attach to the columns, which means that the steps are going to extend just about three or so inches past the handrails on each side. So I want the concrete to go just a few inches past the steps on each side.

So the first shape I tried was this one…

I loved that shape, but the problems is that when I start trying to connect walkways to it (I want a walkway connecting this sidewalk to the driveway, and also going the other direction and around the house), I lose the design. The design stops making sense when I attach sidewalks branching off of the sides.

For some reason, I thought maybe rounding it might solve that by placing less emphasis on what looks like an intentionally designed shape, and just being more natural. But it didn’t solve anything.

Squared corners? That would have worked better, but then things started looking way too hard and square.

Then I came up with this, which I think will work…

Now to be clear, I put the branch off to the side walks way too close to the house. That left only enough room for a very narrow walkway (and for these to be useful to Matt, they need to be at least 36 inches wide) and planter beds that are only 18 inches deep. Obviously both the walkways and the planter beds need much more room, so the curves to the side walkways will need to happen much further away from the house. But I really like this basic idea.

And in the picture above, I have everything very squared off and really straight lines going to those side walkways, but they don’t really have to be that hard and boxy and rigid. As long as this area right here is perfectly symmetrical on both sides…

…then I can add some curves and more natural, organic shapes to the beds and walkways that branch off. But for my own sanity, I do need that area leading to the front steps, and the area where the walkways branch off from the main sidewalk, to be perfectly symmetrical.

For now, that’s my winning design.

And I will definitely be keeping the sidewalk to the street. Getting rid of it is simply not an option I would even entertain. I know that the idea of getting rid of it and just having one sidewalk over the driveway is a very popular one, but that’s not an idea I think will work for my house at all.

My whole reason for wanting a sidewalk connecting the front door to the driveway is for us. Not for visitors, but for us. When all is said and done, I want Matt to be able to circumnavigate the entire house on the exterior via paved pathways (not stepping stones or pavers, since those will make things very difficult for him) that are close to the house and form planting beds at the house so that he can get close and enjoy those. That is my goal, and it’s my only goal with the connecting walkways.

I know that having that one walkway from the door to the driveway is a very popular design, but I think it’s very dependent upon the style of the house. The only time I really ever see that done is when the house has a front-entry or side-entry garage that puts the driveway in close proximity to the front door, generally no more than 10 or 15 feet away. But my front sidewalk is 60 feet away from the edge of the driveway. And then from where I want that walkway to connect to the driveway to the end of the driveway is another 60 feet. That’s 120 feet to get from the front door, across to the driveway, and to the street (where the mailbox would be with this configuration).

The current distance straight up the front sidewalk from the street/mailbox to the front door is 55 feet. And people do use it very regularly, so I can’t even imagine not having it there.

But as many of you suggested, I do want to widen the part that meets the curb at the street. I played around with a couple of different ideas, but I still don’t think I’ve hit on just the right one.

I’ll keep playing around with that until I get it right. It’s definitely not there yet.



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  1. I’m glad you are on your way with the sidewalk design and decisions. Why do the “simple” things actually require such deep thinking? You seem to be covering a lot of the bases that need to be covered. If you are only doing the house to street walk at this time, will the concrete in the walks branching off it be close enough that they seem cohesive? I don’t know much about concrete pours that are done at different times, so that may not be an issue.

  2. Landscaping around the sidewalk will give you the curves you would like to include.. that will be much easier to do later and reduce the amount of cement. Which may crack at some point. So less is more as they say.

  3. Additional comment.. I agree landscaping around the house/former garage will conceal the appearance it was a garage.

    But I’d be careful about widening so much of the sidewalk near the curb. This with the driveway — don’t want it to look like the concrete jungle. I’d keep the sidewalk simple. Nice expansion near the porch – then straight to the curb. Simply elegant. Just a suggestion. Use the landscaping to punch up the visual.

  4. I think you’re on the right path with your ideas and second the decision to keep that walkway to the front door. A lot of the curves can later be adjusted with plants if you cannot make up your mind about them now!
    On another note, I want to thank you again for your recommendations re tools! I had to cut through some nasty ivy roots in the garden today and used my Dremel multimax for that, which I’ve bought on your advice. Without this power tool, I wouldn’t have managed this task at all, so you might have felt a tingling a couple of hours back, when I already sent you my thanks through the ether while chopping away at those roots 🙂

  5. I think you will regret curving your driveway as you or any guests are backing out. Maybe that’s just my pet peeve, but I find it maddening to have to watch so carefully to stay on the pavement using a rear view mirror. That may be the reason most driveways are straight. A sidewalk though, is considerably more elegant if curved, a least a bit. I doubt you want the runway look.

    Just my two cents. . .

    1. She doesn’t have a choice about the curve because she wants to save that beautiful tree. It’s a gentle enough curve, that if you can’t navigate that, maybe shouldn’t be driving🤨

    2. A “reverse pad” could be added to the carport end of the driveway. I don’t know the technical name for the extra bit of driveway that allows people to drive or back into it so they can swing the car around so they are driving forward as they exit.

    3. I won’t be backing out of my driveway. There will be enough room in back to back up so that I can pull out of the driveway going forward. As far as guests to, if they choose to park in my driveway, they’ll, have to deal with the curve. But it’s really so slight, I can’t imagine someone having trouble with it. Guests can always park on the street and come right up the front sidewalk.

      1. The curve will certainly be pretty, and doesn’t appear to pose a problem for backing. I think you will like having a landing where sidewalk meets curb. Very welcoming. And you could even do that out of a different material to set it off if you want.

  6. I think if you would have said the main purpose for walkways were more for Matt to enjoy the yard, we all would have gotten it😐. I like the curve at the street. Mimics the driveway. As long as it not huge, which it doesn’t appear to be. Agree, paths are too close to the house. I think a rule of thumb is the bed should be at least twice the height of the wall, porch, etc that it is in front of. Once hardscape and landscape are in, it will no longer look like a garage conversion. Good job so far!

  7. Once the driveway is poured have you considered moving the mailbox to just to the right of the driveway? That way you could get youir mail as you drive in.

  8. How about researching rock/gravel driveways for most of the driveway and cement for the back half? I have seen beautiful ones. Also, how about a few stepping stones from the porch to the driveway that are natural looking and blend into the grass? So people don’t feel awkward walking in the grass from the driveway.

    1. It’s really hard for Matt to roll over rock and gravel. I’d like to be able to get him to the street easily so I can take him for walks around the neighborhood.

  9. Why not pour the landing separately (like the portico one) since you’ve settled for an overall design? Then you can build the stairs faster without as hard a hit to the budget.

  10. Have you considered adding stepping stones through the landscaping for the section you’d like to take around the house? We recently did that, and we love it. We’re really the only people that would be going around that way. Maybe that’s the case for you? Just a thought. I prefer the square look near the porch.

    I also agree with you regarding the driveway. I don’t think it will give off a ‘garage conversion’ vibe. Landscaping always makes a huge difference too. It’s really coming together, congrats!

      1. I don’t want to be mean or anything, but I really feel this needs to be said:

        If the goal is to take Matt for walks, shouldn’t you hold off on the front sidewalk and prioritize the driveway instead? Considering that you’ve removed the front ramp, Matt won’t be able to us that front sidewalk, and the money you spend on it now will delay your ability to pay for the driveway sooner.

        MS patients have a lifespan of what? 10 years from diagnoses? You’ve been in this house for 5, he had his diagnoses in the old apartment, so he’s got only a few years left?

        Why are you spending money on all these beautification projects, instead of prioritizing your husband’s ability to get out of the house and go outside?
        Why spend money on shutters, and functionally useless concrete, and art projects, and repainting the same thing again, when your husband can’t go for a walk in the last few years of his life?

        Get that damn driveway in…

        and build some cheap, temporary, wooden steps out of plywood if you’re so worried about your visitors tripping.

        1. So cruel and harsh. Was that necessary? Did your mother not teach you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything?” Kristi and Matt deserve to have the home they dream of. None of us knows how long we are to be here and to count the days expecting the end is a waste of precious time. Shame on you.

          1. I *AM* saying something nice. I’m saying that Matt should have a home that is actually functional for him, so that he can go outside, in the few years he’s got left.

            How is that not nice?

            What are you advocating instead? That he should have a house that he cannot leave to go outside, with the few rooms he uses being an unremodeled (unpainted even) mess, lacking a bathroom he can actually use, while all the money is being spent on cosmetic stuff that he can’t see (because he can’t go outside) and can’t use.

            The dude is dying from MS for crying out loud. He’s got only 5 years or so left.

            Are you seriously advocating that they should hold off on making it possible for him to go outside, so that cosmetic stuff can be done first? (Cosmetic stuff he CAN’T even look at, cause he can’t go outside.)

            How is that Matt’s dream house? To have stuff he can’t see or use done, and nothing to make it pretty, or functional, or livable for him done AT ALL?

            At the pace Kristi is going, by the time any of the changes that will make life more comfortable for him are made, he’ll be dead.
            I mean, she’s complained that the house is a fire hazard for him at the moment, because she doesn’t have a good way to get him out of the house in case of a fire, and so the plan is to put a door into their bedroom so that he could at least be SAFE there.

            But nope… let’s remove the front ramp, making it EVEN MORE impossible for him to escape in case of fire, and lets focus on spending money on a sidewalk, and paint, and shutters (again, which Matt can’t see cause he can’t easily leave the house) instead of spending money on a freaking FIRE ESCAPE or a driveway so he can exit the home.

            Are you delusional in thinking that ANY of the stuff money is currently being spent on is for him?

            1. Oh my gosh…SHUT UP. SHUT UP. SHUT UP!!!!!

              You arrogant, dreadful, presumptuous BITCH. DO NOT come to my blog and tell me when my husband is going to be dead. None of us knows that. And he was diagnosed FOURTEEN YEARS AGO.

              And DO NOT presume that Matt has no say in how we spend money. In fact, when it comes to big projects (like DRIVEWAYS), he has the last say in how and when our money is spent. I get a monthly budget to do fun stuff. Why? BECAUSE THIS BLOG IS MY JOB, and I can’t blog without projects, and I can’t do projects without money, and if I only blogged when we got the BIG stuff done, I’d have nothing to blog about, my blog would die and we’d make no money and have to live on welfare. THIS ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE, and I get so freaking TIRED of people like you telling me how Matt and I should be spending our money, the order in which we should be doing things to OUR house, and mostly…


              Un-FREAKING-believable. Go pound sand, you unbelievably calloused bitch.

            2. Wow, you are mean and harsh. People with ms are living long lives with new strides in treatment. Everything she does is with Matt in mind. Your an idiot!

            3. You are not being nice at all. There’s a way of saying things.. with empathy and kindness.. So sad that you do not see or understand that. The main problem with what you are saying is you are being more “JUDGE” than being helpful. Next time you are trying to help, think about how it is going to be received. Who is listening. and are you actually going to help or hurt. Or better yet, keep your thoughts to yourself and move on.

            4. Good for you Kristi, glad you gave this idiot a piece of your mind!!!! Amazing how we can be so protective of you when we don’t really know you.

              Ishtar- Before you go around stating ignorant “facts”, educate yourself! People with MS can and do live a relatively normal life span like the rest of us, if we are so lucky. With your hateful heart you may not be so lucky

            5. Usually when people start off saying, ” I don’t want to be mean,” they are going to be exactly that. FYI, my Grandmother was diagnosed with MS in the late 60’s early 70’s. She lived almost 30 additional years and was able to watch her great-grandchildren grow into young adults. Many advancements have been made as far as treatment since then. How dare you make a blanket statement for Kristi and Matt to read! You are just plain cruel!

            6. You are wicked! and you clearly have no idea how much time and effort has been put into this home and projects which, by the way, provides their income, to make it a place that is accommodating to Matt’s needs and a beautiful place for them to live and work at the same time.

              How dare you voice your opinion on how long Matt has on this earth–only God knows that. Even if it were accurate it is none of your business how they choose to live their lives and how they choose their priorities. What you said about Matt is not true and extremely hurtful and you owe both Kristi and Matt an apology. I am sure Kristi and Matt are aware of the “what if’s” with his disease and they live with them every day and for you to attack them for living their lives in a way that makes them happy is just the action of a bitter, wicked person.

              I don’t know what in your life would make you say the things you have. Even if any of it were true, (which is not the case) what gives you the right to voice such harsh opinions and cause such pain with your words. If your intention was to hurt then you have accomplished that. You need to take a good look at yourself and your words. As much as I would love to bitch slap you right now, I will pray for your wicked, hurtful soul.

            7. What you are trying to appear as logical advice, is actually a demonstration of your stupidity. Before making grand statements about the life expectancy of people with certain diagnosis, it is just a common sense to at least google it. I just did, because I am not familiar with the consequences of MS, and the sources I found are indicating that the average life expectancy is “5 to 10 years LOWER THAN THE AVERAGE, and THIS GAP APPEARS TO BE GETTING SMALLER all the time”. So Matt is very likely to have a lot of years ahead of him, which I wish him wholeheartedly.

  11. Kristi, I love the plan you’ve arrived at for the walkways and driveway. At the street end of the front walkway maybe sort of mimic the end near the porch only a little smaller?

  12. I think the new driveway design looks “charming”. I do believe keeping the sidewalk at the street should be simple, less concrete. Simple there will draw your eye to the home.
    Great job Kristi explaining your plans 👍🏻

  13. You may want to bring your pathways further out from the base of the porch to provide more area for planting, especially if you will have shrubs. I think four feet would be a minimum for a planting bed.

  14. I agree with Kristi about the wider areas at the mailbox and at the bottom of the stairs so Matt can easily turn himself around in his wheelchair.

  15. Looks great!

    One bit of functionality I’m not clear about. How do you get OUT of the driveway in a car? Is there going to be enough turn-around room when backing out of the carport to drive down the driveway forwards or are you going to have to actually back down the entire length of driveway and navigate both the corner and those curves in reverse? The latter could be difficult to do on a regular basis. I think if I had that kind of space/large driveway, I’d want to make sure I can back out of the carport, turn the car around, then travel towards the road forward-facing.

    1. When we pour the driveway, the concrete will extend about 10 feet past the concrete on the carport, allowing plenty of room to back out of the carport, back up towards to the back of the property, and then pull out of the driveway facing forward. That way I don’t have to back out of the driveway to the street.

  16. I need some help understanding. The photo with the green and orange paths and the white box….Would you actually do a sidewalk off to the left? And what would it go to? What about incorporating your delightful “greek key” pattern into the sidewalk (not sure if the pattern you did on your purple wall is officially greek key or not, hence the quotations!)

    The sidewalk from driveway to main sidewalk could come in at a 90* angle, and you could make a square with a spot in the center for landscaping or a feature piece. I think it could be really pretty, but not sure if it would create the pac-man or rat race scenario we said two days ago! 😀

    1. Yes, I would like to have a pathway to the left, which would wrap around to the side of the house, through a gate, and to the back yard. I really do want Matt to be able to circumnavigate the entire house when it’s all said and done.

      1. That makes sense! Have you thought about it will turn the corner of the house to the gate? In plan, we tend to want to put things at 90* angles, even though no person on the planet naturally walks that way. I design roofs for a living, and I always lay out walkway pads at 90* angles. And no one EVER stays on them (including me, the designer 🙂 ). Maybe you could find a way to incorporate a 30* or 45* angle/curve at the steps that you could somehow mimic at the house corner. Or not, I just tend to be a bit OCD! haha

        1. I really want to know more about your job! Roof dedigner? Roofs with walking pads or paths? What, where, why?

          1. Haha! Yup. I design roofs. Mostly for schools and government buildings. They’re huge and have a lot of detail work!

            A lot of roof membranes are extremely slippery, so contractors will install walkway pads, which have texture for grip. There is typically a lot of mechanical and electrical equipment on roofs and there is a lot of maintenance required (clearing roof drains, cleaning up leaves/debris, etc.). So the walkways are mostly for the maintenance people so they don’t slip! 🙂

  17. I’m glad you’re realizing what you have to have in your design to meet your needs. Whatever we think, it has to work for you and Matt.

  18. I like the plan for the driveway and the step area off the porch. But I am not sure of the wider area by the mailbox. I am picturing a mailbox surrounded by concrete, which seems strange to me. However, I would do curves there, in the form of planting beds. It could be very welcoming to have some small shrubs and flowers there. I’m thinking of small boxwoods maybe, that only grow about two feet tall. Easy to maintain, and stay green all year long. And be sure you have a MINIMUM of 4 ft. for the beds along the house. Anything smaller is useless, and you should keep plantings two feet away from foundations because they leach harmful chemicals to plants.
    Question – has Matt tried out the ramp in back yet? How does he like it as far as navigating on his own?

    1. He hasn’t tried it yet. Until I get the flooring in the studio it’s very difficult to get into the studio and out the back door.

  19. If you are going with the straight sidewalk then I like the idea someone already said to use white picket fencing and planting beds to create your curve at the street as opposed to widening the cement.

  20. My suggestion would be mirror the rounded curve used at the steps at the end of the sidewalk down by the curb.

  21. Kristi, I too didn’t care for hard corners and my side walk meeting my other sidewalk and meeting my driveway are curved similar to your outline. I am happy with it. It looks very pretty.

  22. Why have the sidewalk going out to the street anyway? Move your mail box over towards the driveway and just have a sidewalk going from the driveway to your front door. then make it as curvy as you like.

  23. I really like the way you curved the sidewalks near the steps, going around the house. I think that same curve would work at the street end of the sidewalk too. Besides, if you plant flowers or shrubs along those edges, they will soften them as well. It’s gonna be beee-you-tee-full!

  24. One question: how will Matthew navigate the front steps to get to the front sidewalk? Will there be a ramp there too? Or will he need to go out the back and all the way around the house?

  25. Note to Kristi; if you haven’t already done so, have the concrete guys level / form / pour an actual concrete pad for your AC compressor. Obviously this should be done when the weather cools, you will be without AC for a few days. Your HVAC installers will probably unhook / re-hook for a nominal fee since your system is new. That project will be dirt cheap when combined with a bigger pour. The “ready made” plastic pads shift over time, throwing the unit off balance and burning out the bearings (not to mention the horrible squeal every time it kicks on). Ask me how I know…

  26. The curved driveway is the only way to go and will look great…. not like a garage conversion sine the driveway will go behind the house. I would however, create the same curves at the street on your sidewalk as you have at the porch just so it will all look cohesive.

  27. Perhaps I didn’t understand correctly from the previous post, but I really like the idea of the path going fully around the house, and to the street so Matt will have the ability to access a full circle around your property and to the road. Brilliant idea.

  28. The driveway looks great. And I disagree with whomever said it will still look like a garage conversion, it’s going to look FANTASTIC once it’s all done. It’s already looking great. I really like all the options you have for the sidewalk, but I think a mix between the 2nd and 3rd ones are my favorite. I think it needs that curve to match the driveway. I also really like all the walkways you will have around the house so that Matt will have access.

  29. Do you take into account vistor parking for the driveway? If you have room for it, I’d plan ahead for that?
    Something I wish I’d been able to do, but we made the house as big as we could which limited the driveway.

  30. In regards to the driveway, you may need to check with your city or county regarding the design. There may be restrictions as to what you can/cannot do. Just a thought.

  31. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with some crazy person’s total lack of understanding of Matt’s MS. My best friend’s FIL has lived with MS for over 40 years now and one of my roommate’s from college’s older brothers has lived with MS for 25 years and is still trucking just fine (he and his wife have 5 kids!). So, definitely don’t listen to that guy.

    I also, personally, apologize for not understanding that one of your goals was to be able to get Matt around the house and down to the street on a stable, smooth surface.

    All that being said, I think you’ve got a good start on your design plan! I’m sure you’ll think of some tweaks here and there, but great start!

  32. Thank you for showing us the pathways plan with paint! I (stupidly) had trouble imagining where the driveway and pathways would go and now it’s so fun to see how everything meets up. I LOVE the symmetrical design at the front steps! Also, can someone explain why it’s so terrible that people might realise the studio is a garage conversion? xx

  33. I love the idea for you to have concrete to go around the house. Not only for Matt to be more Mobil but it’s also cleaner. You won’t drag as much crud from the shoes back in. I do also agree with the walks from the house being a little further away from the house for flower beds. Too narrow you can’t really do any thing. My suggestion. Get more color paint. Mark off the flower beds size you want. Then mark the walk where you want the walks going across the front then design the main walk shape from that going to the street. You know where the walk to the driveway will end. If possible go ahead and do the walk the other way as far as you can go. I think you’ll get all the things you want that way. When the next batch of concrete is laded it will be a slightly different color just from age. Do get the concrete weight he will using so the same can be used on the driveway and the color difference will be less. You may want to talk to him about that.

    PS. I’m so sorry about what that wicket person said. From what i gather that besides the MS Matt seems to be in pretty good health. You’ve had to take time off for your aches and pain but I’ve never seen where Matt is having health problems and you’re having to rush him to the hospital. Please don’t let a ignorant cruel person get you down.

  34. Kristi: I think you are doing an amazing job! All of this takes time to plan! Looking at different scenerios helps to make the end result beautiful! I love what you have done so far. My aunt used to tell me a saying. Don’t Let Anyone Dull Your Sparkle! Shine On! You keep shining and working towards the end result because I know the end result is going to be gorgeous!!! You are an amazing person to always think of Matt’s comfort and happiness. Remember! SHINE ON!

  35. A landscaper friend said he always tried to incorporate a welcoming “open arms” type of walkway at the point where people will approach your door. Always tho’t that was such a friendly idea.