10 Ideas for Designing the Perfect Driveway

28 November 2016

The driveway and entrance to your home will be the first impression visitors get of your house and as the old saying goes; first impressions last. The driveway design and entrance to a house will also contribute to what is referred to as ‘Kerb Appeal’ which is the impression your home makes from the side of the road or street which is often a key factor in encouraging house sales.

Make a great first impression by treating your driveway as the welcome mat to your home with some these great driveway design ideas.

The First Impression
The boundaries of your home will give passers-by or visitors with a glimpse into the style of your home. The driveway gates should mirror that style and, like the cover of a good book, give visitors a taster as to what lays beyond their barrier.

John from Gatekraft, specialists in bespoke automated driveway gates, has seen typical driveway gate designs move away from the traditional barred steel designs; “Although Steel Gate designs are still popular, especially in conservation areas, we have seen increased popularity in metal-framed gates and contemporary style.”

Here the modern gate design is created with a timber-panelled centre framed in a slim metal detail which really suits contemporary home designs well.

John also added “But we also have clients looking for something unique and different which can work really well to create an initial ‘wow’ factor to a driveway. We are currently working on a glass driveway gate which is extremely interesting.”

Modern Timber Driveway Gate to Contemporary Home

Can Barriers be Inviting?
A driveway wall, fence or railing has a difficult balance to achieve. Its purpose is to create a protective barrier around your home and driveway but without creating the appearance of a prison wall.

Steel railings work well to match the appearance of metal gates and their barred nature allow light and vision through the protective barrier, creating the illusion of more open driveway design. A more contemporary alternative could be the use of horizontal timber panels with visual gaps between them for vision.

Low-level brick walls or hedges work well to keep the driveway visually open but creating a visual boundary to the home, restricting access to the driveway for pedestrians and forcing visitors to use your preferred routes into the home.   

Serenity Landscape Creations

Keep Within the Law

You should always check to see if the alterations that you want to make require planning permission. Thrity from TM Garden Design advises: “Creating a new driveway entrance to a property will require planning permission if you need a new drop kerb and some councils will not approve carriage driveways where you can drive in one side and out the other. These legalities could affect the layout of your driveway design.”

Tree Protection Orders could be another snagging point to your perfect driveway design so make sure that you check any mature trees both on your property and on the nearby street before designs begin.

Thrity also advises to check whether your home has any special planning restrictions for the driveway design; “Conservation areas and private estates often require plans for front gardens to be passed, for example, Moore Park require a full planning application to Three Rivers Planning Department and the plans also have to be approved by Moor Park 1958 Ltd.”

Get the Balance Right

Gardeners will always prefer as much soft landscaping as possible in any garden design; however, on a practical level, this isn’t always possible. A good balance is to ensure that you have a minimum of 30% soft landscaping to 70% hard landscaping.

You should also consider that the increased requirement for off-street parking and hard-surfaced driveways are leading to issues of flooding and water run-off. Any driveway design will have to confirm with SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage System) which is a law whereby the home or landowner has to responsibility for how water runoff from a driveway is drained back into the natural water table.

Karl at Decorum Garden Design recommends either one of two options for designer driveway drainage;

“Firstly, one can design the driveway in such a way that water from the drive is directed towards a drain which in turn flows into a local soak away – this must be constructed at the same time the driveway is. Alternatively, there are SUDS compliant block paving units for driveways that are porous and allow the water to simply drain through them into the water table without the requirement for a soakaway.”

Either way, the requirements for water runoff have to be designed into the driveway properly so it is recommended that you get the services of a landscape or garden designer involved.  

Create a Smooth Ride

A large part of your perfect driveway design will be the driveway surface itself. It is important that you choose the right material to suit your home design and surroundings.

For a smooth, designer finish large format driveway tiles look amazing. These 20mm Porcelain driveway tiles from Exterior Solutions  can be used on driveways when installed onto reinforced concrete. Other benefits are these are non-slip, frost resistant and are maintenance-free.

The large format, grey finish of the tiles here create a smooth modern design from a driveway surface, a far cry from your typical brick paved drive and really make this driveway look high end and contemporary. 20mm Porcelain driveway tiles from Exterior Solutions

Get Smart

As smart technology takes over our homes bringing these smart home technology systems into the driveway can make coming home with the shopping, or allowing guests in, so much easier.

If you have automated driveway gates there are numerous smart home devices that can ease the passage into your home. IP video or audio intercoms that connect to your smartphone can be used for driveway gates or front doors and are fantastic as you can greet a visitor and let them in wherever you are in your home or garden, whatever you are doing.

Even if you are out picking the kids up from school, or out for dinner, you could allow a delivery driver through the driveway gates to leave a parcel on your doorstep locking the gates securely behind them as they leave.

You could even go as far as to have sensors in the car so that when a car approaches you know whether the car is one of those 'registered' to the property or you could also do this with a security camera on the drive that reads the number plate.

Where Will the Cars Go?

It is best practice with driveway design to ensure that any cars are not parked directly in front of the entrance to the home but to one side. In larger properties, with a larger driveway space, this is much easier. Here you can take the drive to one side of the house and create attractive screening to hide the parked cars. If this is not possible try and make sure that the driveway design considers pedestrians and that they can access the front door without having to struggle with parked cars. 

Front and Garage door from Urban Front

Garage design is becoming more important to the design of the home itself, with many garages integrated into the home structure. The garage door should match the general design and architectural or the building. This garage door from Urban Front was designed to match the design of the front door for a cohesive entrance design.

Make an Entrance

When looking at your driveway design the front entrance to your home should be prominent and obvious. Sometimes when there is a huge expanse of hardstanding to the front you almost have to search for the front door. Thrity from TM Garden Design gave us some simple tips to mark out your front entrance:

“You can create borders either side of your front door with symmetrical beds or planters on each side of the front door. If possible try and create a path to the front door that is separate from the hardstanding. If that isn’t possible you can pick a different paving material to show a path within the floor or have your paving form a ‘mat’ around the front door. Lastly - lighting. Have external lighting on either side of the front or overhead to allow visitors to easily find the front door when it is dark.”

The front door design is an important part of the design of your home’s entrance. Solid front doors of timber or metal are really on trend at the moment. Think statement, style and quality. 

Front Door designed by Urban Front with a Bronze finish

The front door of this contemporary home is clearly visible to visitors. Beds of minimal planting line the pathways to the front door which was designed by Urban Front with an impressive Bronze finish for an immediate wow factor. 

Small Driveway Design

Smaller driveways tend to be closer to the kerb, therefore more visible to passers-by. If your driveway is simply big enough to drive a car into then you can still make an impression with some simple renovation techniques.

The easiest thing you can do to neaten up a front garden design is to find a place to hide those bins! Try and find some space to screen off the refuse and recycling bins, with timber screening or planting, so that they are not the focal point of the driveway.

Using a small strip of greenery against the house will provide a buffer between the hardstanding of the driveway and the house. The planting will frame the house and can soften the impact of fully paved driveways.

If your small driveway is on a busy road you may want to consider a driveway turntable. Some local councils require these are part of their planning restriction to stop the hazard of cars from reversing out of small driveways onto busy roads.

Don’t Forget the Pedestrians

Cars will not be the only visitor to your driveway. If you have a driveway gate you may want to consider a separate pedestrian gate. These can be made from the same materials, with the same design a as your driveway gate for a cohesive design and with the same access control for the same level of security and comfort. 

Front and Garage door from Urban Front

This aluminium driveway gate from Gatekraft was installed with a matching pedestrian gate to the side, finished in the same RAL colour and accessed via the same audio intercom system as the driveway gate.

Try and ensure a pedestrian route from the gate to the front door is clear either with a different path material or floor lighting.

For any more advice or guidance about designing your perfect driveway please contact the team at Sky House Design Centre on 01494 722 880  or email us at info@skyhousedesigncentre.com. We would also be happy to put you in touch with any of the experts mentioned in this guide. 

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