Making a Grand Entrance

Sometimes, function follows form. And there are instances in which outright defiance of fundamental architectural principles leads to the most extraordinary of homes. The gracious home of one of our clients in White County, shown below, is a case in point.

Here, the front door—actually a set of French doors—is not the focal point of the stately country residence at all. Set on the upper level of the two porches, amid a stretch of full-lite French doors and windows, the front entry doors actually recede politely into the background, leaving the entire front elevation to be the welcoming statement. In fact, the front entry is not even accessible from the front of the home!

This was no accident.

With the home built into steep terrain in the rolling foothills of North Georgia’s Appalachian mountains, the upper-level porch is actually the main level of the home. So it just made practical sense to locate access to the upper porch—the entrance—around to the side of the house, at ground level. Plus, having the entrance on the side of the house preserved the integrity of the Double-Gallery-style architecture, while keeping the mountain vistas open from both porches. Can you imagine any kind of front steps leading to the front doors on the upper level of this house? It would have destroyed the unique design of the home.

All that being said, the side entrance was, well….let’s say underwhelming. It felt like an afterthought.

The approach to the garage and side entrance from the driveway was dismal and uninviting. From a design standpoint, it was completely disconnected from the stately front façade.

The entrance to the main level porch—the entrance friends and visitors would use—was dark and narrow.

With uneven ground, scraggly patches of grass and weeds and a set of plain wooden steps, the entrance didn’t feel welcoming at all.

To top it off, the steps were rotting.

We set out to give the home the grand entrance it deserved.

To open the space up, we designed a curved retaining wall topped with a flat platform.

The concrete platform would provide an attractive and safe transition between the driveway and the porch.

A lower retaining wall adjacent to that platform would frame a garden bed.

Pavers would bring the driveway level with the concrete platform, and two broad, low, step-downs would connect the platform with the porch. A natural boulder and fountain were strategically placed to visually ground the space.

With the project completed, the approach to the garage and side entrance from the driveway is polished, inviting and purposeful. It certainly doesn’t look like an afterthought anymore.

Now, the home has more than a side entrance. It has a grand entrance that is worthy of its magnificent architecture and the breathtaking North Georgia mountain setting.

The welcoming committee is on site and ready to greet all comers…

as soon as she finishes her drink.


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Sign up for our monthly newsletter of gardening and stonework tips from our blog. You may unsubscribe at any time and we will not add you to any other mailing list.