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AFTER

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After – stamped concrete walkway

Have I mentioned our house was a short-sale and in need of a fixer-upper overhaul? Oh I have? and frequently you say?  Oh, well, in addition to the long list inside we also had a long list of improvements for the outside that are finally being addressed.

Our driveway and walkway needed replacing. The driveway was cracked asphalt and the walkway was made of large stone pavers which had settled and were no longer safely situated. Our railings were cited in the home inspection report for being rusted at the bottoms and I really wanted them gone, but couldn’t because there were three steps up to the entrance. Three steps or more requires railings.

BEFORE

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BEFORE…Uneven Stone Pavers and ugly railing

After many discussions about resurfacing the asphalt and relaying the pavers we finally compromised. We could have worked with what we had. If this was a flip house we definitely would have just resurfaced the driveway and pulled up and relayed the pavers for a nominal price. This house, however, is our home and my husband was adamant about wanting a concrete driveway. Ugh, I so did not want a concrete driveway. Round and round the discussion went UNTIL we finally compromised with this…a stamped concrete driveway. This very quickly turned into a very large project, or , as I like to call it the Give A Mouse a Cookie effect.

Driving home from work my husband spotted it, a wet cement driveway  in the neighborhood and a contractor standing beside it. I think he must have gotten goose-pimples on his arms he was so excited with this find.

He stopped, got the guys number and rushed home. I was soon harried into the car and we drove around to look at the current project as well as two other recent projects in the neighborhood. Butch, the guy, showed up an hour later, as requested by my husband. As we began to talk I converted to the concrete driveway idea with a catch…the project would be much larger than just the driveway and it would be PRETTY! See how the Give A Mouse A Cookie effect happens…I should probably rename it to When Kristin Starts A Project effect… 😉

Next thing I know so many of our projects are going to be DONE!  The driveway, the pavers, the steps, the railings, the overgrown bushes that crowd the walkway… and I may be able to talk him into fixing up the portico.

BEFORE

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All the hardscape would be taken care of in one fell swoop AND I would add a small patio behind the dwarf maple reusing the stone pavers. Exciting. Butch had fantastic ideas, and my husband was soon scared, and lamenting “Oh what have I done”…ha ha, just a little.. he wanted the driveway in concrete – and he would get it —only a bit differently that he thought.

We made our decisions and then I had to leave for an out of town work trip. Some changes happened while I was away and I took one panicked call from my husband at 6:15 am east coast time. I was on the West coast so I got the call at 3:14 AM.  It was worth it.

Originally we were going to go with with stamping that looked like pavers. At 3:14 AM we decided to go with Butch’s guidance, which would provide for a less fussy look where the concrete would still be textured, but without the pattern stamping into brick or stones. My main objective was to not have the broom swept concrete finish you see on many driveways and this would still be achieved. Also, there was a problem with the color we had selected.  I asked that it not be bright white, but be a light grayish blue color. The color we wanted was not available and needed to either go one shade lighter or one darker. This was an availability from manufacturer issue. We opted for one lighter as we could add sealer to darken it if we wanted, but once darker there would be no options for modification.

So here is what we decided…stamped concrete driveway that would be widened near the top to allow people to walk past any cars parked on it, a widened path, a landing, bullnosed feature on the steps, bushes removed, railings removed within code options, and pavers reused for a small front yard sitting area. We would be able to completely eliminate the railings as he would add a step earlier in the path that would raise the area where it met the front steps, so in other words placing the first step much earlier and the steps leading up in front of the door would now be two steps instead of three —thereby keeping us in code. The entire path and steps would also be stamped concrete and the steps would be bull nosed. We just added some landscape and mulch yesterday and need to reseed the yard so don’t mind the bare lawn patches…please.

AFTER

Do you see the first step here:

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The landing is a little larger than it looks and will provide plenty of space for gabbing with guests as we normally do when they are leaving. For some reason the best conversations happen just as guests are leaving a party?  Does that happen to you as well?

By putting in the landing and moving the FIRST step onto the landing, we now only have two steps onto portico. We used to have three steps up and with the change we can now go with no rails!!! And the steps are stamped, colored and bullnosed. This picture is showing my some details I don’t see when out there – ahem- will even out the mulch so that there is a straight line in front of the landing.

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Here are some more images:

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Including what started it all…an after picture of…THE DRIVEWAY…we left the very front of it with the brushed concrete as that is how all the driveways in the neighborhood are, whether concrete, stamped, textured or asphalt.  Do you see my new mailbox and brick spacers? Again don’t mind the bald spaces of the lawn, we are seeding those today. We also hacked back the remaining bushes and have no fear those will fill in by next summer.

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If we sealed the textured concrete it would look like the below pictures (which is how it looked when wet). After MUCH discussion decided to stay with the lighter gray that is not shiny.  It was a tough decision though, as we like both looks!

In a later post will show you the details of the small patio we added as well. We plan to scrape and paint the entire porch area and will link this post to both of those posts!

Until then, may all your projects succeed better than you dreamed!

Kristin

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