Outdated Driveway Design Trends (And What Our Experts Suggest Instead)

When it comes to curb appeal, your driveway plays an important role in the attractiveness and resale value of your home. If you're building a new house or simply giving your landscape and hardscape a makeover, you'll want to consider the most up-to-date designs and materials for the driveway.

The common trends a few years ago have faded due to various downsides, changes in taste, and the invention of new materials. Today, homeowners choose their driveway designs to consider costs, maintenance, aesthetics, and sustainability. For example, the new, permeable pavers win out over old-fashioned materials in an eco-friendly effort to return rainwater to the soil and avoid the run-off that causes erosion. But that's not the only surprising trend reversal. Read on to discover more driveway fads that are on their way out. Our experts discuss with us the fads that are fading away and explain new approaches to designing the best driveway for your property.

Straight line driveways

In landscaping and hardscaping, straight lines fail to enhance your home's curb appeal. Raf Michalowski, designer and CEO of Meble Furniture, tells House Digest: "Outdated driveway designs tend to include a lot of straight lines, such as a long stretch of square concrete blocks. These straight lines are not aesthetically pleasing and can make a home feel cold and uninviting."

In lieu of straight lines, current design trends take their cues from nature. "As people's tastes evolve, they're seeking out more natural styles that incorporate curves and softer lines," he says. We tend to like the polar opposite of what feels passe, so orderly lines make way for less rigid and restricted shapes. "I suggest driveways with winding patterns or organic shapes as an up-and-coming alternative. These designs can be made of a variety of materials, like brick, gravel, or pavers. They bring a more organic look to the space, making it inviting and cozy," explains Michalowski. The layout of an attractive driveway may be curved, U-shaped, circular, or Y-shaped. Any of these choices avoid the stark look of a straight expanse of pavement extending from the street to your house.

Driveways made of brick

If you're interested in spending time, effort, and money on maintaining your driveway, then brick might be a good choice of materials. On the other hand, most homeowners would opt for less expense and hassle. "Driveways made of bricks or paving stones, or stamped to look like it, simply aren't as popular as they used to be. For starters, paving a driveway brick by brick is expensive. It's much more labor-intensive, and the materials are more costly than concrete or asphalt," Martin Orefice, CEO of Rent To Own Labs, shares with us. "These types of driveways also tend to need frequent maintenance as bricks heave and crack with the freeze/thaw cycle."

If you do choose to invest in a brick driveway, the installation expense is only the beginning of your commitment. The bricks will need to be maintained by cleaning, sealing, re-grouting, and replacing on a regular basis. On top of that, brick may be a poor choice for a driveway due to its tendency to crack under the weight of vehicles repeatedly driving and parking on it. 

Natural stone driveways

Although they lend an attractive aesthetic to your home's curb appeal, driveways made from natural stone have distinct drawbacks. "Natural stone driveways have become a popular choice in recent years, but this trend may be coming to an end. Although natural stone driveways are low maintenance and look beautiful, they can be expensive to install and maintain," says Keith Sant, founder and CEO of Kind House Buyers

The cost of building materials has skyrocketed in our present economy, causing homeowners to look for places to save on new builds and home renovation projects. One of the cost-saving strategies is to nix the expensive paving materials, such as natural stone. Sant offers this advice: "With the ever-increasing cost of materials, many homeowners are opting for more affordable driveway options. Asphalt and concrete driveways are quickly becoming the go-to choice for many homeowners. They are relatively inexpensive to install, easy to maintain, and come in a variety of colors and patterns that can give your home a unique look."

Colored concrete

To increase curb appeal and set their homes apart from others on the block, homeowners look for ways to give their driveways a unique flair. But trendy treatments have a tendency to come and go. "Colored concrete driveways are another popular trend that is on its way out. The bright, eye-catching colors of these driveways may look great initially, but they can fade quickly due to exposure to the elements. This fading can leave your driveway looking dull and dated over time," says Sant.

If you want to give a high-end look to a concrete driveway, Sant recommends stamping rather than coloring. "Concrete stamping is a more durable and cost-effective alternative to colored concrete. Stamped concrete offers the same customizable colors and patterns, but it is more resistant to fading and wear. This makes it a great choice for busy driveways that get a lot of foot traffic."

When you install a stamped concrete driveway, you can choose from a variety of textures and patterns that imitate stone, slate, pavers, brick, wood planks, and more. Although it can crack over time due to freezing and thawing cycles, stamped concrete is easy to maintain. Simply sweep or blow off the loose debris and follow up by occasionally rinsing with a garden hose.

Gravel driveways

If you have a gravel driveway, you might want to consider paving it. According to Sant: "Gravel driveways were once seen as an economical option for homeowners, but this trend is fading fast. Although gravel driveways can be relatively inexpensive to install, they can be difficult to maintain. The gravel must be regularly replenished, and the driveway's surface must also be leveled periodically."

Gravel driveways have several additional downsides. They tend to look messy, as the crushed stone fragments scatter into the adjacent lawn. They're dusty in dry weather, and muddy ruts can develop during the wet seasons. Gravel driveways are difficult to walk on, especially in high heels, and your car picks up the dirt from this type of surface. 

As an alternative to a gravel driveway, Sant suggests pavers. "Paver driveways are a great alternative to gravel driveways for homeowners who want an aesthetically pleasing driveway that is easy to maintain. Pavers come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, making them a great choice for creating custom designs. They are also more durable than gravel driveways and require less maintenance over time," he states.

Large, ornate gates

Unless you live in Buckingham Palace, you may want to nix the ostentatious gates at the end of your driveway. "Large, elaborate gates are becoming less popular with homeowners who value privacy and simplicity," says Shaun Martin, owner and CEO of We Buy Houses in Denver. "Instead of investing in a large ornate gate, more homeowners are opting for smaller, simpler styles that blend in with the landscape or have more modern lines."

In addition to more minimalist designs, you can also utilize modern technology to ensure privacy and safety. "Automated gates are becoming the preferred option for driveway design as they provide convenience and security. Homeowners can open and close their gates with the press of a button or even remotely from inside their home, making it easy to keep their property secure at all times," says Martin.

An automatic gate has a motor that opens and closes it with either a sliding or swinging motion. The gate can be operated by entering a code on a keypad or remotely by an app on your smartphone. Offering a sleek look, today's automatic gates complement contemporary landscaping and architectural designs.

Minimalist driveways

A plain, poured-concrete driveway with no relationship to the landscape gets points for minimalism, but it doesn't contribute to your home's curb appeal. "Minimalist driveways are becoming less popular because they don't have interesting features or decorations that make them stand out. People want driveways that reflect their own style and personality," says real estate investor and house flipper Ben Wagner. "Minimalist driveways don't offer much besides just being a driveway. For this reason, they are losing popularity over time."

The driveways that are taking the place of minimalist options include those that incorporate natural elements as integral parts of their designs. "A rising trend in driveway design is the inclusion of green infrastructure. Homeowners are increasingly considering incorporating green spaces. This includes grass strips or planter beds, within their driveways," Wagner continues.

To escape the boredom of minimalism, you can build a curvy, Y-shaped, or circular driveway around planting beds that include trees, shrubbery, and flowers. Additionally, the ribbon driveways of yesteryear are making a comeback. These designs include two strips of concrete to accommodate your car's tires along with a ribbon of turf grass growing between them.

Unsustainable driveways

Unsustainable driveways using non-eco-friendly materials are on their way out. "Eco-friendliness and a new aesthetic look have made permeable driveways a trend among Gen Z and Millennial homeowners (the biggest portion of the housing market)," states Ron Wysocarski, a real estate broker at Wyse Home Team Realty. "Permeable driveways allow rainwater to seep through the surface and into the ground, reducing runoff and improving water management. These driveways can be created using materials such as permeable pavers or even grass pavers. They offer a more natural and visually appealing look while providing environmental benefits," he explains.

Using Turfstone pavers, homeowners can build driveways that facilitate water absorption into the ground and control the type of runoff that leads to soil erosion. A Turfstone system creates a lattice-type grid of concrete pavers with large openings that allow grass to grow up through the hardscape. You can maintain a Turfstone driveway by mowing the grass like a lawn. It produces a lush, green look that helps your driveway to blend in with the landscape while eliminating the problem of muddy ruts in the soil.