Side Entry Garages
Another thread got me thinking about the things that amatuer developers (or homeowners siting their own homes) stick us with fixing.
The side entry garage is now a "must have". It makes your home look like it is all living space and gets those pesky cars from out in front.
The tendency is to keep the driveway off to the side. This is the shortest distance to pave and keeps the pavement out from the front of the house and allows for a full greenspace of lawn and/or garden as the foreground to the house. The big reason is often to get rid of the "welcome to my garage" look.
There are a few problems that can arise if these are not well thought out, however. First, adequate room to back out and turnaround the car is often short changed by a lot line that is too close. More importantly it causes a problem with arrival of guests (invited or otherwise). If not well planned, it actually builds up the "welcome to my garage" experience to arriving guests.
People driving by don't see the garage, but if you have a driveway off to the garage side of the property that leads, well, to the garage, your guests are going to ultimately be welcomed by that garage.
Worsening the "welcome to my garage" problem is that the garage is the service and family entrance to the home and is typically attached to parts of the house that serve the same. Now that garage has pushed your guests 24' farther away from the front door than if the garage faced the street. Because the garage is not always the place that friends and family arrive, there is typically a second informal entry between the side facing garage and the front door which goes into a part of the house that will have the kitchen, mud room, laundry room (sevice and family area). All of that pushes the formal front door even farther from where your guests leave the car.
You also have to consider the experience those arriving guests will have. They drive past the beautiful home and landscape on the street and pull into a driveway which leads them to the end of the house and looking at the garage doors. They get out and walk toward the garage seeing little more than those garage doors and begin to follow a walk that does not lead them into your home and landscape, but across the face of it. They are too close to enjoy the look of the home. After passing the garage windows for 24' there is an entrance, but the walk continues. They have to figure out if they go to this door or the next one.
If they go to the first door, you'll be bringing them through the mud room and/or kitchen. If they go to the second door it is an even longer walk across the face of your house.
Does that sound like the best way to present your home and landscape?
My feeling is that if you are trying to have an inviting home the layout and landscape should be designed to enhance that rather than to fight it. Guests should be drawn to the heart of the house both visually and physically (formally, informally, directly, or indirectly ... whatever your style is).
Driveways were around long before the automobile and can enhance a landscape and certainly can direct and control the experience one has in arriving somewhere.
Should it not be that the family and service area be the secondary point of arrival rather than the first? Why not bring the primary driveway to the front door and have a secondary drive leaving from the primary to access the garage? It visually brings the attention to the heart of the house and makes the service area less significant.
There is more pavement and expense, but if having that side entry garage is important, one would think that the aesthetic is what is valued. If the result is an aesthetic loss because you don't value the follow through, it seems rather pointless. It would make more sense to can the idea of the side entrance and compromise with a front entrance garage that serves both as service and formal arrival without completely destroying one or the other in the process.
Just something to think about before you get stuck mitigating a bad situation that is supposed to be wonderful.
Side entry (multi-million dollar house). Front of the house is facing the top of the page. All the way in you see little more than the garage.
Front facing garage. Very compact and the front door is the heart of the house.