Driveway Makeover and How to Avoid Mosquitos While Entertaining Outdoors

I was beginning to think it would never be over.  My driveway makeover is complete, although it took almost a year for it to be DONE.  Previously a mixture of old, crackling asphalt and a gravel loop, our new driveway is all concrete.  And there’s a LOT of it, let me tell you!

stamped concrete driveway


The entry from the street features a carriage drive in stamped, stained concrete.  It looks like cobblestone, and I LOVE it!

stamped concrete driveway



The rest of the driveway is stained concrete, and the front porch is stamped and stained like the entry from the street.

concrete driveway



I should probably back up so you can see how it looked prior (I blogged about it last fall).  The main portion of the drive to the right of the house was a hot mess of ancient, crumbling asphalt full of potholes and other dangers for those visiting our home.  We had added a loop in the front of gravel about nine years ago.  Not so attractive, but all we could afford at the time.

gravel driveway driveway before



This was the exterior last September during excavation of the driveway.  The neighborhood children thought the mounds of dirt and backhoes in the yard were so much fun.  I did not.


King of the Hill 


The work was difficult and tedious.  Concrete can only be laid in certain temperatures, and stamped concrete is even more finicky.

laying concrete driveway



Because we have an old home and didn’t think that screaming-white concrete in the front yard would be period-appropriate, I chose to have the concrete stained in “Earthen” on the Solomon Color Chart.  When choosing concrete stain, my advice is to go much darker than you think you should – it lightens up tremendously in a rapid period of time.

concrete stain colors

Can you see the one I circled?

Stark white concrete would have been a huge mistake in our setting.  We added lots more space for parking to the right of the house leading to the garage.  For the first time ever, our kids can ride their bikes and skateboards on our driveway!

stained concrete driveway



When the weather got cold, the concrete guys had to stop working for several months.  So the stamped and stained porch didn’t get done until about a month ago.  This was the front porch slab in its former state:

gravel driveway



But look at it now!  I love my little front porch, don’t you?

stamped concrete porch



Now that the driveway is finally complete, we just want to hang out on it all the time.  I bought this pair of wooden chairs and firepit for Mr. Man for Christmas last year, thinking we could use them on our new driveway.  He looked at me like I was crazy at the time, but now all he wants to do is sit outside and poke a fire. Very caveman.

outdoor entertaining



Then I found the Adirondack chair at the Nashville Flea Market this summer and pulled two of our vintage metal chairs from the back deck.  All we have to do is start a fire out here, and the neighbors are drawn like moths to a flame!  I’ve gained a couple of pounds in S’mores alone, I tell you.

outdoor entertaining tips


Now this is where we hang out, entertain friends, watch the kids play in the yard, and catch fireflies at dusk. But I must say, we have been afflicted by pesky mosquitos which put a damper on our idyllic outdoor living.  The bats in our yard just haven’t done enough to combat them, and the neighbors’ bug zapper isn’t helping us, either.  I do find that a lit fire keeps them to a minimum, but we can’t keep the firepit going all the time!  I absolutely hate wearing bug spray with all the smelly chemicals, so I started looking for some solutions to my mosquito problems.

mosquito repellent


I found this Poteragie post on One Kings Lane’s blog which tells the best types of potted plants to use in your outdoor entertaining space to help keep mosquitos and bugs away.  We need to work on our landscaping on the front of the house, so it makes sense to try to incorporate some plants that are pretty and repel mosquitos, too!

mosquito repellant plants

Click here to learn about mosquito-repellent plants

Geraniums?  I had no idea!

mosquito repelling plants

click here for more plants that repel mosquitos

You probably knew that One Kings Lane is a fabulous site that features great home decor and curated flash sales, but you might not know they offer lots of decorating and entertaining ideas on their blog.

one kings lane

I hope you are proud of me for finally completing my huge driveway makeover!  Ok, it’s not like I did it myself, but you know what I mean.  Now I know what to plant in those empty pots to keep away mosquitos – that’s my next project!

entertaining outdoors

Thanks to One Kings Lane for sponsoring this post and sharing great solutions for our interior and exterior design dilemmas, even when it comes to repelling mosquitos when entertaining outdoors!


  1. Lori Pruitt

    Wow! That driveway turned out great! And I absolutely love the front porch! Hope you enjoy that!!! Also, thank you SO much for the mosquito repelling plant info. We (finally) moved to Nashville from KY and inherited a wonderful yard that is itching to be used for entertaining, but we have SO many bugs out there!!! My first project for our outdoor areas will be to plant as many anti-bug plants as possible, so that info is much appreciated!!!! Hope to see you at a future design event 🙂 You’ve been a great inspiration to me!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thank you so much, Lori! Welcome to Nashville 🙂

  2. Dianne Tant

    very beautiful…what an improvement! love it

  3. Sylvia

    Your driveway looks great. Stain was a smart move; white would have been too harsh. The haint blue paint color on the Southern Living website is BM Palladian Blue (HC-144). I have always thought any aqua blue color could be used.

    • Kristie Barnett

      I’ve seen quite a range of colors used as “haint blue.” Palladian is definitely a good one – I’ve also used Beach Glass and Wythe Blue!

  4. Michelle L.

    Gorgeous, Kristie! As for mosquitoes, never underestimate the power of citronella plants!

  5. Jen C.

    love it, KB! and i’m so excited that i won’t have to fear for my life the next time i try to get out of your driveway late at night!

  6. Connie Nikiforoff Designs

    Tea tree oil (very inexpensive) does work quite well as a mosquito repellant. No harsh chemicals on your body 😉 One thing about any concrete, stained or otherwise, it all darkens with age…even the ‘white’ colored stuff. I LOVE your stamped concrete and your front yard, btw. Beeeooooteeeful 🙂

  7. Sherry

    Looks FAB, Kristie! Congrats on finishing the project! Love the plant info, too. I hope some of these are shade loving.

  8. great family vacations

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post plus
    the rest of the website is really good.

  9. Francie

    This looks great, Kristie! As you have seen, we also have stamped, stained concrete in front of our house. We have been very happy with it. There are so many options for shape, color, etc., and it is an upgrade that isn’t super expensive (compared to putting in stone or brick).

  10. Karen

    Do you mind sharing who did the work on your driveway? We are in Crieve Hall as well, and while our drive is not as old as yours, we have plenty of potholes and bumps down the drive over tree roots. We could sure use some help.

  11. Paula Van Hoogen

    Phew! What a relief it must be to have THAT accomplished!1 I know from our everyday irritation with our gravel driveway–especially this year when it rained so much….half the gravel ends up in the street, which goes downhill from here! Neil has to get his excavator out to scrape it back in every time. we too are saving for a paver stone drive so that the water will drain through it. We have had the stamped concrete on a former house drive that was flatter–it’s great! (And more affordable!), but…our situation demands drainage. Just an FYI for anyone else looking for a permeable surface–check out “Drivable Grass”—it’s unique and pretty darned reasonable in price. I will look up the link and put it in another reply.
    Thanks for the heads up about the mosquito plants too!
    Beautiful yard!

  12. Paula Van Hoogen

    Here is that link to “Drivable Grass”—
    Definitely worth a check for some applications.
    They ship from Indiana–used to all come from California.

    PS: I can see from the photos how a dark color (your trim)
    looks so much lighter on an exterior!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thanks, Paula! Btw, my exterior colors are Benjamin Moore’s Bittersweet Chocolate and Sherwin Williams’ Cocoon.

      • Paula Van Hoogen

        Just did some more research on exterior solid stains…..the reason most dark colors read lighter (in that particular medium) is that a solid stain is a “dead flat” and so appears much lighter than even a slight sheen would render it. Interesting, huh?
        Also, that now in order to get a slight sheen, you’d have to use a deck solid stain, which most now contain Teflon and CANNOT be 2nd coated! Which is too bad for the dirt resistance quality(in solid siding stain).
        Flat catches everything….course with a darker color, who cares?

        • Kristie Barnett

          It can get so complicated, can’t it? Exterior colors always go lighter because of all the natural light/sun exposure. I have found that using a sheen makes the undertones of neutrals more apparent, and actually makes the color lighter than if it were flat. The reflection of the sheen will impact how you see the color, so the truest form of the color is best seen in a flat finish. This is true even inside – glossy paint reads lighter than the same color in flat.

  13. Nicole

    Love the way it turned out! I will keep stamped/stained concrete in mind for future projects, like the pool deck. Would love a circular driveway too, but the septic lines are in the front yard!

  14. Janice

    Congratulations on another job well done! Your new driveway and front porch look amazing and very inviting. Of course, my favorite part of your post was seeing those adorable children!

  15. Jil Sonia Interiors

    I’ve never had concrete stained before, but I’ve always kept it in mind for any clients who may need it. Thanks for the tip about selecting the stain to be darker than what you intend. I didn’t realize it lightens so much!
    Driveway looks absolutely wonderful and I love how the rock ‘wall’ can become extra seating around the firepit.
    We’ve planted geraniums this year on our deck and don’t suffer from mosquitos – so it must work!!

  16. Lauren L.

    I love your new driveway Kristie! It really does look like cobblestone and the color goes perfectly with your house!

  17. Kelly

    Looks beautiful Kristie! I love getting those big projects done. Good for you (and the family)!

  18. Paul Martin

    Congrats ! I know exactly what a “moster huge” job that was. I lust for such a driveway. They look to have done good work too. You can specify all you want, but it takes a good masonry contractor/crew to deliver what you want.

    As for Mosquito repelling plants, you might want to check out the American Beauty Berry shrub. It is woody perennial, native to Tennessee, that is 3 seasons GORGEOUS and has natural insect repellents that are being evaluated (as a replacement for DEET).

    • Kristie Barnett

      Awesome advice, Paul – thanks so much for the tip!!!

  19. Rebecca

    It’s beautiful and the absolute perfect color. I agree that the stark white would be too harsh. It’s interesting though. I came upon another site similar to yours, someone who is also a color consultant and quite popular from what I can tell. She did a post on concrete saying it should never be stained. I disagree.

    One reason I really enjoy your blog is that you seem very genuine and caring. You are one of the rare design bloggers who is always gracious about the homes you help design/decorate/stage. I like that you don’t criticize the “before” but rather just make suggestions and tell us why.

  20. Donna

    Matching the driveway to the house….looks marvelous! I love matchy matchy! Classy curves and a beautiful stone house and cobble stone driveway…makes me want to view your garage doors! :-))

  21. Elizabeth Brown


    What a beautiful transformation. So,so nice.
    You must pat yourself on the back with your artistic vision, your expert execution and especially your patience. Love your front yard.


  22. Lee

    cinnamon essential oil or tea tree essential oil mixed with a little olive oil or coconut oil and rubbed on like a lotion will keep away mosquitoes and also smell better than bug spray plus a lot less toxic! As for the geraniums – be sure to get a scented geranium like a rose geranium. The regular ornamental ones aren’t as effective as the scented ones. A good garden center will know. (not a big box store)

  23. Sarah

    It looks reeeeeeally good!!! Happy for you. Long time to wait makes it even sweeter, I bet.

  24. applehillcottage

    It looks absolutely beautiful with your stone house! And I’m drooling over your vintage metal chairs.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thank you! I found 4 metal chairs and a sofa glider at a roadside flea market about 15 years ago, in pretty bad shape. I took them to an automotive shop and had them dipped and stripped. They were turquoise and white for many years – we just repainted them Benjamin Moore Sweet Daphne and White Dove.


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