Villa del Greco
Part 2: An Inviting Entry

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In my last post, I talked about my initial meeting with our client and her home, Villa del Greco, and how we made a list of issues to address, chief among them creating a welcoming and unambiguous approach to the front door.

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Front entry – before photo

When I first visited the site, I found – literally – that you couldn’t find the front door when you approached the house from the street. There was a vehicle gate but no gate for pedestrians — surprisingly, an all-too-familiar challenge. (One of my pet peeves: cars should be secondary to people, NOT vice versa!)

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Front entry – before photo

The driveway gate – a somewhat foreboding, dark and solid object – had become the entry point by default, a design challenge caused by the dissecting of the original estate.

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Entry courtyard – before photo

It didn’t get any better once inside, as the entry door was mere steps off the path of vehicular travel and the whole front entry area was comprised of, well, driveway. What was needed was a separation of vehicle and foot traffic, a dedicated people gate and a lovely and inviting entry court.

View of new entry courtyard, under construction. Note the pressure-treated 4”x4” frame – soon to be covered in star jasmine – which will separate the courtyard from the drive.
View of new entry courtyard, under construction. Note the pressure-treated 4”x4” frame – soon to be covered in star jasmine – which will separate the courtyard from the drive.

The solution?  We carved out a separate space from the driveway.  Using a Star-Jasmine-cloaked fence – with its intoxicating scent – as a vegetated screen, we created an intimate entry courtyard.

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We designed a new gate, which echoes the Moorish star element and color of the adjacent driveway gate, and had a local artisan craft it. A new gravel and paver path, nestled within landscape mounding to separate it from the nearby driveway, leads guests to the new gate.

Landscape mounding and boulders separate new walkway from drive on the street side of the new gate.
Landscape mounding and boulders separate new walkway from drive on the street side of the new gate.

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The secure but see-through gate provides a framed view of the new courtyard within.

Travertine paver layout
Travertine paver layout

Inside the gate, gravel gives way to travertine stepping stones, leading to the pre-existing travertine entry stoop.

We searched for a travertine tile to match the front stoop that was thick enough to be used as a paver.
We searched for a travertine tile to match the front stoop that was thick enough to be used as a paver.

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A tiled Moorish star fountain – inspired by fountains at nearby Casa del Herrero, another George Washington Smith estate provides “music” and movement in the entry courtyard.

Fountain inspiration photos: fountains at Casa del Herrero, another GWS house nearby
Fountain inspiration photos: fountains at Casa del Herrero, another GWS house nearby

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Plantings, pots and the home’s name above the door complete the enchanting new space.  Problem solved!

We’re exploring some other topics in our next few posts, but we haven’t left Villa del Greco behind altogether. In a few weeks I’ll post about the redesign of the garden’s stunning water features, complete with before-and-after pictures and details about how we developed their design and how we built them.

More soon!
xoxo    Margie


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Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker

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2 thoughts on “Villa del Greco
Part 2: An Inviting Entry

  1. Loved your exciting redesign of the front entrance to Villa El Greco! The see-through gate reminds me of the fanciful wooden gate you designed for my garden. Everyone comments on that gate, which is a focal point of the garden. My garden, Margie, has been featured in three national magazines since you designed it several years ago. Now I’m ready to ask you to redesign my front yard! Mary Ellen

    1. That’s great news Mary Ellen! So glad to hear you’re still thrilled with the work we did in the back yard. I look forward to putting our heads together on the front yard once the heat has passed and cooler weather – planting time! – is ahead. Much love to you and George from all of us here at GDA!

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