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September 18, 2013

Curb appeal

Design options abound for driveways

The driveway that came with the 1921 Craftsman-style house that David Ulick bought five years ago was the original concrete one, marred by cracks and with tree roots starting to break through.

“I didn’t like the driveway,” said Ulick, of Pasadena, Calif. “I wanted something a little bit nicer.”

He looked through books and drove through the Craftsman-rich neighborhoods of Pasadena to get ideas before deciding on a concrete drive with an antique finish, accented with reclaimed red bricks from the 1920s.

“I wanted this to look like the original driveway, an original, nice driveway, and using used bricks gives it a nice old-fashioned look,” Ulick said.

“It really makes it a grand entrance for the house,” he added, noting the brick walkway up one side. “I figured I’d treat the Craftsman the way it deserves to be treated, and maintain its design style and heritage.”

While a driveway may still be a utilitarian afterthought for many homeowners, others like Ulick are adding some serious curb appeal to their homes by moving beyond basic options like grass or gravel, asphalt or concrete.

“The driveway is commonly overlooked,” conceded Michael Keenan, an adjunct assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota. “Driveways are not cheap, necessarily, but they are completely functional and necessary if you have a car and a garage.”

Doing up the driveway, Keenan said, is a chance to “celebrate the function because it is a piece of the property you do use every day.”

The design options have grown in the last decade or so, he said, as pavers — made from precast concrete, clay and natural stone like granite — are being turned out in a range of colors and sizes. Some have rounded edges for an older look; others are mottled to add color variation to the driveway.

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