So I took Emily's (Fov) advice and tried out a mock-up of a different front stair configuration than I had originally intended.
I added a little extension to the front of the porch to allow the first flight to descend at a right angle to the house (I will need to figure out some kind of railing for this.. I don't want my little people swan diving to the driveway when coming home from a night on the town ).
The landing at the bottom of the first flight would be the same level as the front garden and their would be a retaining wall under it as indicated (this house is on an imaginary hillside ). The lower flight of stairs would end beside the driveway and they would be enclosed on the front side at least, maybe the backside also, but I kind of like the understair area as storage. There is a little alcove under the porch for access to the basement apartment.
It still needs some tweaking, but I like it!
Thanks for the inspiration Emily!