To kick off the Quarterly Focus portion of the site I decided to use my home as the initial focus. The reason for this was simple; my home was a lemon. According to some my home wasn’t a “fixer upper”, it was probably too much for me to handle.

My wife and I bought our home in 1990. It needed a facelift both inside and out, yet we felt it had the potential and location that a growing family demanded. I saw our prospective home as something of a challenge but I was confident; armed with a trained eye and many creative ideas, anything was within reach.

I saw the obstacles and benefits this home and its two-acre property concealed. My first challenge was to improve its curb appeal. The front door was set back and almost hidden from the street. Improvement in this area would be essential for both functional and aesthetic reasons.

My solution was to add a porch with multileveled steps and at the same time expand and remodel the kitchen. The front door dilemma was solved; the kitchen became larger and updated and by adding raised stone planters around the porch I had elongated the home’s landscaping, adding to its curb appeal.

The next challenge required designing and constructing outdoor living spaces for entertaining, cooking, and relaxing. I chose an area in the backyard adjacent to my office to install a geometric patio with a swing arbor. This area was in need of some creative ideas and our family would benefit from its quiet, private, and shady garden setting.

Yes we have a deck and it was a lemon too. After considering all of my options I decided to address circulation and continuity over aesthetic. I made only minor changes to the existing deck, planning to enclose it in the future as a screen porch. I focused on a multileveled, covered walkway connected to the geometric patio. The results were unbelievable; we could use our back door for the first time. Our screened porch is top priority and will begin this summer.

Our property has a meandering stream that bisects the two acres almost in half. Clearly the greatest challenge has become the park concept which addresses the one acre beyond this stream. The long term planning and phasing will include woodland trails, water features, garden displays, rock creeks, potting shed, playground, lighting, and indigenous plantings. Thus, a means of crossing this was essential and a bridge was designed and constructed. This has improved our circulation and with a covered roof, lighting, and fire pit it has become our favorite gathering area.

The following phase of improvements focused on the curb appeal again. Our new front door entry was a wonderful improvement, however our parking problems had to be resolved. A circular driveway was designed, but bigger issues had to be addressed. The front yard was not level and drainage problems had to be solved.

The solution was a stone retaining wall to allow the yard to be nearly level and the drainage swale was converted to underground pipes to complete the leveling process. Stairs were designed in the retaining wall to invite visitors to view other areas. As expected, during the design process, another private space was created below the new retaining wall. This would become the main garden focal point: a fishpond with a waterfall and a stone bridge.

The water garden concept was designed and constructed after other options were considered such as another patio space, additional parking, or a putting green. The fishpond, with specific criteria: a waterfall, skimmer, stone bridge, underwater lighting, garden paths, and seating, was the perfect solution. It has indeed become our focal point and lends itself as our featured garden display. This home/office/display concept has become my business niche with a park like setting to complete the two-acre property.