A new sunroom and landscaping seamlessly blend with the original, century-old Craftsman in Medina.
You won’t find a clue, indoors or out, to where the original ends and remodeling begins at the Medina home of Mira and Suresh Suresh. (Yes, Suresh uses his last name as his first name.) The renovations and updates are so graceful, so seamless, that the old house and garden haven’t given up an iota of their considerable charm, despite the team of designers, craftsmen and bulldozers working the property over for the past decade.
And this is no small feat, considering the Craftsman-style home is one of the oldest in Medina, built in 1908, on property that used to extend all the way from the street to Lake Washington. A stately, spreading horse chestnut tree hints at the age of the house. Masses of 40-year-old hydrangeas bloom beneath the windows, and an elegant expanse of lawn wraps around the house to complete the bucolic scene.
Mark Anderson of AOME Architects designed the original renovation for the family of four in 1996, updating the interior, adding a new entry and covered porch that looks original to the 100-year-old home. Then four years ago, the family decided it wanted to replace a little old back porch with a sunroom. “It started as kind of a mudroom for the dog,” says Anderson with a laugh. It’s true the sunroom may be “dog central” for the family’s beloved golden lab, Moby, named after the white whale. But the sunroom serves as far more than passageway for Moby’s happy meanderings in and out of the house.
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Interior designer Pamela Pearce, also involved in the original remodel, chose comfortable, casual furnishings and bluestone floors for the sunroom, creating a gracious transition to the outdoors — for humans as well as the resident canine. “Pam is so good at not going overboard,” says Mira Suresh. “She kept the feel of an old summer house.” The couple especially enjoy the sunroom in winter, when the multiple skylights flood the room with all available light, even on the darkest of days.
While the home’s front garden is all sweeping lawns and mature shrubs, the new garden spaces off the sunroom are divided into intimate rooms for sitting, dining or snipping herbs for dinner. The new gardens were phased in, expanding outward from the first-phase dining terrace. “I’m the caboose,” jokes landscape architect Scot Eckley of his role in finishing the construction and planting the new parts of the garden.
Mira and Suresh found the hefty stone Buddha whose serene expression sets the garden’s tranquil tone. Much of the new outdoor space is paved in bluestone; a wisteria-draped arbor lends shade to the dining area; tall urns hold a sophisticated mix of jasmine, hebes and ornamental grasses. Mira asked for fragrance, so Eckley planted honeysuckle, mint and lemon verbena as well as enough sweet-smelling star jasmine to scent all the new garden rooms.
The family loves the new garden, often sitting by the pond and eating outdoors, just steps away from the kitchen. “The sunroom and garden were such a transformation,” says Suresh. “It changes how we feel about living here.”
Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer and author of “A Pattern Garden.” Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.