The design process I went through was a little different than others because the owner decided to figure out everything onsite with face-to-face meetings instead of finalizing things in a master plan before construction. So far, it’s been a very enjoyable process.
Anything that uses a solid material like concrete or asphalt to make a surface such as a patio, parking lots, sidewalk or walkway is usually referred to as hardscape. In residential design, most hardscaping uses materials and shapes to resemble traditional styles. My clients typically like to use materials and layouts that are more contemporary that emphasizes the traditional aspects of the house but doesn’t try to imitate it. Perhaps one of the most important tenets of contemporary and sustainable design is for the project to have an authentic expression that is multilayered and true. That’s a big order, but really a valuable part of residential design in the modern age.
Walkways have three major parts. First, it has to perform correctly. For a walkway to perform correctly, it will need to connect two or more areas together with the best route with the least effort. Second, it has to be made in a way that allows that connectivity to be durable and long lasting. This is where the pavers come into play. Pavers are not all created equally either. There’re only one or two companies that make pavers that I feel fit into a more modern sensibility for residential projects. The third component of a walkway is the shape and size (or form) it takes in connecting the disjoined places…and how it relates to the surrounding spaces.
The site of this project is the front yard of a large house built in 1908 putting it squarely within the Victorian period (if not right at the end of it). The gambrel roof and the off-center doorway are two classic characteristics.
During the first consultation, we talked about plants for the bed beside the walkway. It gets pretty wet during the summer and has a equal amount of sun to shade ratio. I recommended irises and a few grasses to begin filling in the bed and to use the walkway as a border as much as a walkway.
The owners had previously painted the house a really interesting blue (almost purple), and are refinished the porch with wooden stairs and railings. After the initial consultation, I sent a style sheet to the client that took these features into consideration. The paver had a wood-like finish though made of concrete. I also recommended a border paver that was more rounded and irregular.
The right paver turned out to be a beautiful rectangular concrete paver in two different sizes and hues. The variety would help me blend the new walkway with the house in a way that didn’t overpower the planted bed or house itself. I took several field measurements to determine the overall square footage of the walkway so we could order all the materials.