HGTV Dream Home 2009: Front Yard Pictures
Traditional farmhouse features, oversized light fixtures and period-appropriate plantings make the front yard and porch pop.
By: Mary Graff
The Talk of the Block
A myrtle-lined front walkway, shaded by California oak trees, leads to a gracious wraparound porch and a classic custom-built front door. The picture-perfect scene is complete with oversized, lantern-style hanging lights that run the length of the porch and brighten the entire corner as the sun sets. "In a town like this, people are always walking down the sidewalks...and a front porch is very much about community and conversation," house planner Jack Thomasson says. "It's very appropriate to have a house like this, on this corner with the mature trees out front that contribute to the historical feel of the house."
Oak trees, which grow on the town side of the sidewalk, create a perfect frame for this Victorian-style farm house. "They are very close to the road and very close to the sidewalk, so we had to be particularly careful during construction not to impact the root system," says Jack. "We want to protect them as much as the town wanted to protect them. I think it's a really fortunate thing that they are a part of what we have created here."
Putting on a Show
Dramatic Grecian-style cement urns, which flank the gracious front porch steps, overflow with drought-resistant plants, including pansies, coral bells, Vinca major 'Variegata' and purple feather grass.
Plantings in the front yard as well as the fescue grass were chosen for their tolerance to both shade and drought. Foundation plantings include rhododendrons, spring-blooming Daphne, hydrangeas, Breath of Heaven and Japanese anemone. The bed that greets passersby mirrors the foundation beds and includes pyrus, grasses, flowering tobacco, sage and pansies.
When choosing the hanging pendant lights for the wraparound porch, Jack and interior designer Linda Woodrum planned to make a bold statement while still maintaining the historic character of the house. Bigger definitely proved better. "Everyone who walked by this house was just like 'Oh my goodness, those fixtures are amazing.' If they had been the scale that most people select, they would have hardly been noticed," says Jack.
The front entrance includes a mahogany front door with beveled-glass insert and sidelights. The home's Victorian features – porch posts, spandrels, balusters and corbels – were inspired by a historic home located near Sonoma square.
A solitary palm tree replaced a maple, which didn’t suit the side yard. The palm, a popular planting during the Victorian era, proved a perfect fit. "We extracted the maple tree, brought the crane in and stretched it over our already in-place lawn to put the palm tree there," Jack recalls. "I actually had to go home the day before the palm tree was planted. And my phone was ringing off the hook with folks saying, 'Jack, it's perfect! You should see it. Great idea!'"
Viewed from every angle, HGTV Dream Home 2009 is a feast for the eyes. "Steve Ledson has a great eye," adds Jack of the home's developer. "He is the visionary behind most of the houses in this community. Steve is known to create simple sketches that turn into detailed pieces of trim that are always extremely well executed. I am so proud of this home."