If there’s one thing we took away from the past year, it was appreciation of home and our own spaces. Being forced to spend more time in our abodes than ever before, home has become a more happy spot than it once was for a lot of people. Many of those who were constantly ‘out’ or going places, found themselves with serious home time and as a result some took the opportunity to create something more cozy and appealing.
In our own little cul-de-sac in Northern California, that has meant using all the spaces of the home, and that includes our front yards as well. The previous ‘just for looks’ front yard has shifted to a space people want to be out in. It’s gives you an opportunity use a previously underutilized area, and also connect with neighbors in a socially distanced or closer way!
I’ve been meaning to write about this trend for a while since we decided to add a front patio to the home remodel in the late stages. I knew I wanted French Doors in the front, but they made no sense if there wasn’t a patio for them to open out onto. After looking at many homes in the Willow Glen section of San Jose, I decided I wanted a small patio and a Mediterranean type of low wall that could be used for seating as well. We figured we might as well use some of that front yard for actual enjoyment, instead of more plants. We removed the grass and added new native landscaping and the patio seemed to work well with that. We feel lucky to have put it in just before the pandemic.
This is few photos of the before and after of our front yard.. We lived here for ten years before remodeling. Taking out a huge Sequoia that was dying and also lifting the foundation, created an uneven look, so with the remodel it was an opportunity to rethink the whole space.
This was right after plants were put in..
And today the plants after almost 2 years..
Coincidentally, three of our neighbors also added front patios, two in the past year. Our neighbors Ben and Becca were the first. They have a great corner lot. Their rounded and slightly elevated patio/entry just sets off their house beautifully, which has also been updated with all their pretty landscaping.
Before and after..
Isn’t this lovely? They really use their patio and enjoy being out there, having a coffee or a glass of wine after dinner on just keeping watch on their three kids having fun on scooters and such on our street..I just love the pretty stone they used on the patio and their fireplace here.
Our neighbor Wen, who is studying design, besides working, created her own space too. Wen has school age kids who often did their class work outside during the pandemic. Previously, it was a small porch and lawn.
Before and after..
They have enjoyed the views of the mountains from the front and being outdoors the past year. It is a very spacious area now, and she still has plenty of yard.
Next door, my neighbors Ginger and Tao have two younger ones and spend evenings and weekends with their small tykes taking their first steps and learning how to ride a bike, while they garden, or chat with family. Their parents often come for extended visits and enjoy the sunshine out there too!
Before and after..
I like the modern furniture and clean vibe of their home. This space was previously part of the driveway!
One benefit of having a front patio is the ability to relax, and if you have kids you keep an eye out while children play. Another is grabbing a bit of sun or fresh air. For us, it’s our cooler months patio as the backyard is darker in winter, but the front porch is an enjoyable place to savor a book and a cup of tea to just warm up on a cold day.
What I love very much about these front spaces is the ability to connect more fully with your community. Thanks to the patio, we know our neighbors even better since this pandemic began.
The other benefit- using the property you own! How crazy is it that some of us sit in a small house, and have a spacious front yard that sits looking like country club and filled with fertilizers to keep it like a carpet, and is going unused? Why not use the space? If you can get rid of the grass, even better. My neighbors all kept some grass for their small ones to play. You can have both if you want to.
You don’t need a house to do this. Even just placing a chair or bistro set in the front of your patio, in a condo or apartment looks inviting and you’ll be tempted to take a break out there and get social.
When I was last in Europe, this is a big thing, a ritual each evening I noticed. Rome was one place that people dragged chairs out to each doorstep and each night enjoyed a bit of conviviality with neighbors and passer bys. They say people who live in cultures where they socialize daily live the longest. Just love this article about Italians.
Here are other inspiring front spaces that have been transformed..
My talented friend Annie, creator of the blog, Most Lovely Things has always done inviting front porches and her new home in Connecticut is no exception. It’s a beautiful home just four houses from the beach, and Annie created a space to hang and also connect with the neighborhood. Annie says, ” People are always out on their porches and neighbors know each other and help each other. I feel like it builds community.” Annie lives on Long Island Sound and her front porch is a lounging space, but she has also used it for dining with friends on colder days. I love how Annie made this feel cozy and inviting.
Annie even set a table out here on a day there was a chance of rain last fall. It is always so much more fun eating outdoors…
Sometimes it’s easy as adding a chair to front to give your home more curb appeal- and a reminder to use the area! This Home of actress Minnie Driver’s in Elle Decor is made so inviting by these chairs…
This home on Houzz, Brandon Pass architect, has the roof extended with a pergola and a whole living area built.
This contemporary home in Orlando has a ready to socialize vibe..
This front patio below, is so simple, just slightly elevated and surrounded by plants and lawn from Newport Beach based, Black Band Design.
I also love this patio added to the update of a 1969 ranch home in Denver.
This Orange County home was updated and given a space with a simple roof extension.
When searching for front patio spaces, I found the inspiring account of the talented Kelly Vandenberg on Instagram and love her whole house! The front patio is especially lovely..I love how inviting this looks in an entry area.
I hope this has been helpful and a little inspiration if you are planning to remodel..or just use the front spaces of your home more!
The landscape on my house by The Garden Group and design by Carla Olivet.
Here’s a few items for the front patio I love..
Photos NorthernCalStyle, unless linked to another source.
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