Guest Architect:
Dominick Tringali Architects
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Q. How can I achieve a neotraditional look without utilizing alleys?

A: We see more and more builders and developers who want to keep a neotraditional look--narrow streets, classic designs with hints from the past, varying setbacks--but for whatever reason can't incorporate alleys into their plans. We deal with that by exploring different ways to place the garage. If it must go in front, and in some communities that's the only option, then we make sure to set it way back from the front facade and balance it with a highly detailed porch. Often, a better option is to move the garage all the way to the rear of the property, which, if done sensitively, can still leave backyard access from the main part of the house. The resulting, rather long driveway can be detailed so that it adds, rather than detracts, from the overall design of the house.

  • The rear yard isn't large, but it still offers room for kids to run and play.

  • The big payoff for putting the garage in back is that the entry--often a solid, uninteresting feature--can't be seen from the street.

    BUILDER magazine
  • Let's face it. Not having a garage in front means much stronger curb appeal.

  • Owners can place a deck on this side of the house as a way to encourage activity in the biggest part of the yard.

  • Windows in a kitchen bumpout offer at least limited views to the play area in back

  • Many more front elevation options are available when the garage is taken care of out back.

  • A larger front porch encourages more pedestrian/ community interaction.

  • One way to minimize the look of solid pavement is to give the driveway a ribbon-style treatment.

  • Putting the house forward allows more interaction with street activity. Trade-offs: Putting the garage out back makes for a long driveway and less play space, but it allows for a lively streetscape out front.

  • False dormers give depth to the roof.

    BUILDER magazine
  • A large, useable porch provides balance to the garage doors.

  • A trellis helps de-emphasize the garage doors.

  • For parents, a full yard means great views--both out back and into a side courtyard.

  • A side courtyard is a great spot for entertaining; it also provides light and views for the master suite and family room.

    BUILDER magazine
  • For kids, having the garage in front means there's more area out back for play.

  • Set the garage back at least 10 to 20 feet from home's front facade.

  • Using ribbon concrete for the front part of the driveway adds texture and interest to what could be just a wide expanse of gray.

  • Setting a garage back from the street diminishes its dominance and gives kids a place to shoot hoops.

  • A large front porch helps pull the eye away from the garage door. Focal point: If the garage must go in front, a dressed-up porch with lots of detail helps make the body of the house a focal point. Architectural details can also help make the garage doors look less prominent.