Ignorance is Truly Bliss: Before & After

Ignorance is Bliss: Before & After

“I’ll tell you what really bugs me about your house”, MaryAnne (my Landscape Architect) said to me one day.

What? I held my breath waiting for her reply. . .

“The two stovepipes that stick out of your roof!” (below)

Ignorance is Bliss: Before & After

Before (the day we took possession, that’s my nephew)

I literally ran out of my studio that morning, to the front of the house and said “OMG you’re right. They look terrible. And I have never registered them before in my brain. I have been so busy looking at the truly ugly landscape prior to our renovation, I never noticed them.”

In actual fact, they should have a box built around them clad with bricks so they look like a real chimney instead of just a stovepipe sticking out of the roof.

I laughed and said “Well, they never bothered me before, but they bother me now! Thanks for that gift MaryAnne”.

So here’s the thing. That might have happened to you when you read this blog. You might have had some harmless pink beige carpet in your house, sitting there, minding it’s own business, doing the job it’s intended for and then you read this post and think “Ugh, I think I have this very colour in my home.”

Ignorance is bliss in this case.

And you just need to understand that the professional will always notice something that you will not. That’s a big reason to hire one by the way. Otherwise, you might find yourself going down the wrong dusty trail in your renovation. There is no way my landscape would look like it does without MaryAnne!

I’m sure I would have eventually noticed my stovepipes, however I had bigger, more ugly areas of my house that I cringed at every, single day before the demolition.

I still haven’t bought shutters, so I’m showing you this side of the house today.

Succulents & Cosmos


Cosmos & Succulents

During the flagstone installation

Ignorance is Bliss: Before & After

The Silhouettes I ordered were installed last week and the huge bonus I wasn’t expecting was how much street appeal they added to the front of the house. Now the windows don’t look like black holes anymore.

We planted Thyme and Alyssum in between the flagstone. While the Thyme appears practically dead and looks like it’s just barely hanging on, the Alyssum is so happy. I don’t think I’ll plant Alyssum on the actual pathway next year because when people come over they look like they are tip toeing along the pathway to get to the front door, haha.

Ignorance is Bliss: Before & After

I do love the scent when I walk to the house from the driveway.  Isn’t my new column so much better than what was there before? What a difference.

Remember back in the Spring when I planted the Succulents beside my front door? Well I thought you might like to see what they look like now.

Cosmos & Succulents


You can see I have already replaced the petunias in the smaller pot with Fall Mums.

Cosmos & Succulents


Here’s another before again:

Ignorance is Bliss: Before & After


Ignorance is Bliss: Before & After

After (Try not to look at the stovepipes okay?)

Love the Cosmos daisies but deadheading them certainly is a full-time job! I planted the ones in front of the living room window a little later so that’s why they look more full on the left side in front of the dining room windows.

Here’s this angle again:

Ignorance is Bliss: Before & After


Ignorance is Bliss: Before & AfterAfter

Looks so much better with the new gutters and the downspout moved against the house from where it was before along the post, before it became a column.

By the way, I found a fabulous urn at a local supplier but I am going to wait until the fall to install it in front of the living room window, otherwise the daisies will get trampled by the time it’s in place – concrete is heavy!

Hope you enjoyed the update!

Related posts:

Why Pink Beige should be Banished Forever!

Cloverdale Paint Party on Elizabeth Avenue

How to Choose the Colour of your Flagstone: Before & After

Smart Light Control for my Living Room from Urban Aesthetics

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk up to the front door, become a client. On-line or In-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 





leave aREPLY

  1. What a transformation, bravo! I am no landscape architect, so take my advice for what it is worth, but I would definitely plant grass between the flagstones, the continuity would look fantastic.

  2. When I planted a flagstone walk, similar to your’s, last year, I bought creeping thyme, Corsican mint, and scotch moss. The Corsican mint has been the best performer for me. I suggest that you plant a few different ground covers to fill in your flagstones, even cutting those 3″ plants into 2-3 pieces, and let them fight it out. This has been a pretty hot summer for something like creeping thyme to get established. You might have better luck planting in the fall.

  3. Have never seen Allysum planted this way, it’s quite effective, but not the most practical of plants for a walkway. Suprised your landscaper recommended that and not something closer to the ground. Irish Moss is quite pretty too.

    • I agree! Though the Allysum certainly is pretty, it seems rather high and like it would grow like crazy; something lower to the ground seems more practical for this path. But the overall concept and execution is gorgeous!! Thank you for all the inspiration Maria!

  4. If I can interject, the alyssum was a quick fix substitute until other “step able” plants were available at the nursery. I am total agreement as to the alyssum , but for this season it looks beautiful. You did an amazing job in such a short time.

    • I adore the alyssum, and would keep it for future years as well! It creates a tousled effect that I find quite nice!

  5. Pretty! By the way, you don’t have to deadhead the cosmos. If you leave them alone, they’ll go to seed and next year you won’t have to plant them 😉 In fact, you’ll probably have more than you need and will be pulling some out 😉

    Allysum as a ground cover…hmmm….never would have thought of that either, knowing their growth habit…a little tall for between flagstone. But my goodness I’d love the smell as I walked past them…beautiful fragrance!

    • True that you don’t HAVE to deadhead the Cosmos. However, they look terrible when they are done and are going to seed. Having them next to the walkway makes them very visible. Myself, I would be out there every single day deadheading. And picking up the ones snipped off.

      I do it about every second or third day for ones that aren’t even too visible in my garden. They will self seed just fine!

  6. Your alyssum will probably self-seed and you may find yourself pulling it up next year 🙂 Careful with mint, it is VERY invasive (all kinds) and will spread into your lawn & mulch and be tough to eradicate. I love your afters! She did such a great job designing your landscaping.

  7. Well, I AM a Landscape Architect, and I must say that the yard and entry certainly do look more inviting.
    Regarding the stovepipes, I’m not sure making one larger (into a chimney) would necessarily improve things. Maybe you could try painting the stovepipes a color that matches the roof or the sky so they disappear. Or perhaps you could relocate them?

  8. What a beautiful transformation! Congratulations.

    I think that Mary Anne is out of line to mention the stovepipes. Rooftop mechanicals are a fact of life- she should keep looking towards the garden and continue doing what she does so well, the garden.

  9. With such a beautiful entrance to your home, no one is looking at the roof and the stove pipes. I get upset with mechanical necessities now and again but they are what they are…necessities. I feel the same way about outlets and light switches. There is never a perfect place for them. Just enjoy your beautiful yard and go back to not thinking about stove pipes.

    • I agree. Your beautiful garden completely draws the eye down and no one is going to notice them. I think Mary Anne wouldn’t have either if she had not been taking the time to look for flaws (I don’t mean that in a negative critical way, by the way. I just think the garden was nearing completion and she was looking further afield).

  10. Ignorance truly is bliss because I would never have noticed the stove pipes either. But they are hardly noticeable with all the other lovely things going on. I agree with you about the allysum – it’s a bit big for a pathway planting. The thyme will fill in nicely and you’ll have a beautiful carpet of fragrance along your path in a couple years. It’s a huge and beautiful transformation!!

  11. Wooly thyme would look lovely planted between the flagstones. I have some between the stepping stones in my garden and eventually it grows to form a dense carpet that is low to the ground.

    • I have wooly thyme too between stepping stones. It meeds a haircut about once or twice a year, but looks good and is easy to care for. Blooms a lavender-ish in June or so (California).

  12. I have never seen Alyssum planted on a sidewalk like that.Look a little dangerous to me. You’ll have a tough time getting rid of them because they reseed themselves year after year after year. They may even pop up in your lawn but on the lighter note, they do smell amazing!

  13. I agree regarding ignore the pipes. I didn’t even notice them. You aren’t looking for perfection – just a pleasing general overall look and you’ve achieved that. We can’t control everything in life and if we try – we will never enjoy what we have or be content. Regarding the Alyssum …. it’s good to try new things and ideas – sometimes they are fun for a short period of time and never to be repeated. That’s how it goes – some things work and some don’t and you don’t always know until you try them. Very pretty. Really like the fabric seat. Outdoor material? Nice – I might try that – I have this lovely tablecloth I bought at Home Sense and it’s an indoor/outdoor material. Nice touch!

  14. Your landscaping is fabulous. I agree with your other readers. Those stove pipes are no big deal. I have a few myself. Love the bright yellow cushion on your settee.

  15. I would never notice the stove pipes because I’m too distracted by the landscape. Most everything looks great, but I have to admit that I had to look hard to notice all of the most beautiful elements because the alyssum is so overpowering. I think if it was a plant lower to the ground and just plain green in between the flagstone (like moss) it wouldn’t look so busy and distracting (not to mention a walking hszard).

  16. I shudder every time I see those before pictures. 🙂
    One of the prettiest transformations I’ve ever seen!

  17. Maria, we always paint utilitarian items like the stove pipes on your roof in the color of the surface they adjoin to make them disappear. It works for downspouts, utility boxes, etc.

  18. This is lovely, though I have to say I really dislike the alyssum. I would feel like I had to tiptoe around each one of them to avoid stepping on them. To me they just create an obstacle course and that’s no way to treat a potential visitor. A landscaping mis-step IMHO, pun intended!

    • I agree with you. Why have a bench that you can’t sit on without crushing flowers underfoot. A little editing wouldn’t hurt.

  19. Your house is fabulous! But you are right–ignorance is bliss. In the process of remodeling my kitchen, I now see much more that bugs the hell out of me.

  20. Bravo, Maria and Mary Anne! Isn’t it amazing how landscaping can beautify a house and yard. What about rooftop landscaping? Kidding. I wish I could get allysum to grow with such vigour, I grow it to attract beneficial insects. My go-to steppables for pathways are low growing sedum (suits my drier Ontario summers) and wooly thyme.

  21. I think the silhouettes make a big difference to the curb appeal, what a bonus! Love alyssum but not in flagstones. Those stovepipes to me mean you have heat in the winter! We’ve all got them on the West Coast, I wouldn’t worry about them. Maybe in the East where everyone has brick chimneys (and houses) they would be more noticeable, but not here. They blend in with the grey sky 🙂

  22. Can you tell me why it was decided to add the one section of fence in front of the dining room windows? It doesn’t look bad; I just can’t see the benefit of why it’s there.

  23. Wouldn’t worry about the stove pipes either….paint ’em and forget them. The alyssum…well, live and learn! That’s part of the process ofmlearning to garden!

    But, my 2 cents: not loving the fence near the bench along the driveway. Looks out of place and makes the driveway look like a handicap ramp with hand rails.

    Would pull out the fence on that side and use some plantings and/or other garden element to guide people to the pathway!

    Love the new blinds!

    • Haha, my new decorative fencing will not be pulled out anytime soon. It relates to the right angled fencing in the large garden bed beside the driveway that you can’t see. It looks out of place right now because there is no plant material around it yet. We will do all the Perennials next Spring. It creates a nicer transition between the driveway and the bench where we sit to enjoy the mountain view. Maria

  24. What a wonderland! I love it, Maria –guess, like all gardens each plant will kind of tell you where it wants be. If the alyssom isn’t right there, always can plant it somewhere in the backyard….it’s all part of the beautiful learning curve. Only thing I see your succulents saying, as they stretch their little necks to get the sun, is, “Put me out in the FULL sun, Mommie!”
    xo, paula
    PS: Have you seen the latest craze in container gardens?—The Fairy Garden? OMG !!!!THEY ARE SO YOU! Pretty sure you can see them on Pinterest.

  25. Maria, I’m getting a pop-up every time I come to your site. Can you set it to remember cookies so that we frequent readers aren’t constantly having to close that window to read your content?