New Front Entrance for Alexander Home
Hammerhead was commissioned to design and install a new front entrance for a beautiful home in Alexander, NC. The existing steps were an awkward height and did not suit the main entrance of such a large, attractive home. Haphazardly placed slabs for a walkway are more suitable in a garden area than as a main entrance, so we added a more complementary entrance.
Below are before and after shots of the front walkway and steps.
Walkway Before & After
Walkway with Steps Before & After
Entry Steps in North Asheville
Under the weird assemblage of wood seen in the before photo, there were concrete entry steps that had to be removed. The homeowner indicated that they wanted the new entryway to reach all the way from the road to the steps of the house. Additionally, we had previously installed the path to the right of the steps, which wraps around the house, and we wanted the entryway to connect to it.
We exposed the bottom step and created a landing that tied the new path in to the new work. The new stone steps are six feet across. Due to the home’s location, vehicles frequently come into the yard a few inches, so we included thick cobblestones to the protect the yard. The cobblestones laid as such will be very sturdy and resistant to shifting even with regular vehicle traffic.
Entry Steps Before and After
Kenilworth Stone Steps
The Finished Product
We completed this set of stone steps for a modern home of brand new construction. They are 9 1/2 feet across and made of sandstone slabs from Tennessee. They have a clean, modern look to match the style of the home.
The wooden decking seen in the images above leads to the entrance of the home. We were contacted by the homeowners when they noticed that every time it rained, there was a serious runoff problem, leaving leaves, mud, and debris to stain the deck. The existing steps in this location were dangerously uneven and ugly and created a waterfall-like effect during rainstorms. Additionally, there were only three of them in space where four are needed in order to walk comfortably.
Existing Steps (Before)
In addition to creating a more aesthetically pleasing set of steps and making this a safer space, we also wanted to solve the runoff issue. The flagstone landing at the top of the steps pitches toward the road to divert most of the water away from the entrance and into a drain that we installed.
We enjoyed this project because it was a project of functional beauty, providing both aesthetics as well as problem-solving.
Over the last several years Hammerhead Stoneworks has worked closely with garden designer Mardi Letson, owner of Gardens by Mardi. The images below are from garden stonework projects we’ve done in her own yard. Mardi has a wonderful sense of design and can integrate plants into stonework wonderfully. She’s very talented and very easy to work with. She is especially good at working with small spaces as is demonstrated in her own yard. Her yard is not huge by any means, but it has so many little rooms and small special places to hang out.
The Finished Garden Stonework Products
Dry Stone Wall in Mardi’s yard
Stone slab steps at Mardi’s
Dry-laid flagstone path featuring the heart-shaped rock Mardi requested
The owners of a historic home on Kimberly Avenue recently commissioned Hammerhead for a project. We got to work designing and constructing stone steps and a walkway while the home was undergoing a renovation. Chuck Krekelberg of Samsel Architects led the renovation project while Alan Roderick of Heartwood Renovations took charge of the building.
Trying to match the look and style of the existing foundation served as a particular challenge during this project. We mixed several mortars until we found the correct ratio of lime and various sands to match the existing mortar in both color and texture. Though time-consuming, a good ratio was developed, and it ended up being used as a base for stucco repairs on the home as well.
Griffin Award-winning Project for this Historic Home
The Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County awarded the Kimberly Avenue residence a Griffin Award in ‘the rehabilitation of a historic residence’ category. The attention to detail by all the craftspeople working on the project certainly paid off! This recognition of our work certainly makes us proud.
Completed stone steps
In the mountains of western North Carolina, where Hammerhead Stoneworks is located, we often deal with awkward slopes. Gradual grades, like the one pictured here, are common. The best solution usually involves striking a balance of steps and landings. This walkway features several small stacks of slab steps with flagstone landings spaced throughout. It’s important to take the rhythm of walking into account. The rise and run of steps are an agreement between the builder and everyone who uses their steps. It should be predictable and within a ratio that we are familiar with. Stuttering steps- those awkward ones that are too short or too close together or weirdly spaced- drive my crazy. (A common thing here is the two inch step at the top of a run of stairs. WHY?!)
Of course, there are other variables as well. You want to steps to fall naturally into place along the slope. If your steps are too far ahead, then you have to do a lot building up with retaining walls to support the steps. Likewise, if you get too far into the slope, there’s a lot of digging needed and you may have to install some sort of edging to keep the soil and mulch off the path. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but often, by taking the time to pay attention to those details in the design phase, you can have a stone path that has a natural rhythm, is safe and easy to walk and is strong and durable. Like this one in the pictures!
Drystone pathway with steps. Balancing bench in the background.
A view of the stone path and the mountains
Tennessee sandstone pathway with steps slabs and site boulders
A drystone retaining wall supports a set of carefully stacked steps. This is an overview of a recent Hammerhead Stoneworks project in North Asheville.
This is a recent Hammerhead project, a patio and wall combination to create a exterior space at a home in North Asheville. We used sandstone from Tennessee, one of our favorite stones for tight walls and flat floors.
A favorite detail of this project is the set of steps that emerge from the face of the wall. It’s all dry laid- no concrete or mortar. The design offsets two walls, providing support for the steps. This creates the effect of a single wall that is pulled apart to reveal the steps. I love the look and like how sturdy they are.
This is a close up of how the steps emerge from the dry stone wall. Super sturdy, clean lines- how Hammerhead rolls…
Detail of a section of drystone wall built by Jonathan. Part of a patio/wall project in North Asheville.
Detail showing where the downspout plunges through the patio surface. There’s a marble we found on site tucked on the right side there.
A short stack of stone slab steps that lead to be soon-to-be patio in Fairview, North Carolina.
We’re installing this short stack of stone steps in Fairview, North Carolina. The steps are made of snapped slabs of sandstone quarried in Tennessee. The steps are framed by small retaining walls that will support a patio space.
Mortared sandstone steps create s stunning entryway to this home in Arden, North Carolina.
Earlier this summer, Hammerhead Stoneworks built a set of formal stone steps leading into a home in Arden, North Carolina. The steps are mortared and utilize a couple of varieties of sandstone to achieve the desired aesthetic. Hidden from sight are several changes we also made to the drainage in the area.
The existing steps were of pressure treated lumber and were rotten through and through. The old steps sat in so much puddled runoff that there were supporting uprights that had wicked water up vertically over two feet. We could squeeze pieces of lumber and water would seep out like a soggy sponge. Stone, subjected to the same abuse would also eventually suffer, so we put in a trench drain immediately next to the steps and reshaped the planting bed to discourage water from accumulating there.
The formal stone steps from above
A stone bench, retaining wall and patio built in Arden North Carolina.
Behind the house we built a small patio with this bench and a short retaining wall to address the general slope of the yard. While the bench uses some concrete and mortar for anchoring, the wall and patio are laid drystone.
This set of stone steps replaced a worn bank that was prone to washing out in a good rain and becoming slippery and messy. And while not a formal entrance to the house, this is the main access for the family. When I build stone steps, I make sure that the rise and run is consistent throughout the staircase.