An extensive variety of trees, shrubs, and perennials had been lovingly cultivated by the owners, who had previously operated a nursery on the grounds of their home. The landscape was a labor of love they had crafted over many years together and was the inspiration for doing a whole house renovation instead of looking for a new property. Throughout the project, the owners talked about wanting to create a “zen” atmosphere that implemented the “golden ratio” as part of the proportioning of the house.
At the front of the house, we were able to break up the original lineal gable roof of the ranch home with the addition of a center gable and asymmetric front porch. This helped give interest and substance to the front lines of the house, and also provided a new protected area from which to sit and admire the landscape. By adding wider spans of tall windows grouped together, exposed beams, and double columns, we attempted to echo a Modern Prairie and Craftsman feel.
The back side of the house was in great need of repair. It was one large area, all at the same level, and loomed over the back gardens. One priority for the back renovation and new additions was to capture as much light and views as possible for the main floor and basement spaces. We did so with more groups of windows and doors of similar size and width to the front of the house. We changed to narrower upper porches to act as a “widow’s-walk” and connect all the interior rooms to the outside and to each other. To keep these porch roofs from darkening the interiors, we added groups of skylights that lightened and brightened those spaces. A new larger “tree-top” terraced deck dropped down from the widow’s-walk and enabled us to stagger and shorten the staircase runs. The shorter stairways resulted in a new open area for the Zen Garden and Koi Pond centered at the entrance to the lower-level basement. The size and placement of the piers for this cantilevered deck was motivated by the prized variegated Japanese Zelkova Goshiki tree that was located near the back of the house. Larger sliding doors flanked with fixed panels mimic the new window groups on the front of the house. They capture as much of the view and landscape, so your experience doesn’t stop at the walls of the house.
The gardens had the remains of an original pond that needed to be completely reconstructed. This required new excavation and grading, sand and underlayment, a large 70’ x 40’ pond liner, and tons of local rock. The pond includes a deeper swimming area for larger Koi including tunnels and crevices for them to hide and rest. It also includes the shallows for frogs, insects, birds, and varying fauna that thrive in less water. Both were joined by a “floating” stepping stone walkway. Additional lighting was added in the pond and around the gravel walkways. A spillway was incorporated to divert high water levels behind the bank to feed the multitude of existing trees and shrubs. A pergola was constructed to give a protected shady spot to enjoy listening and watching the environment come to life. The homeowner’s creations of stained-glass windows and mosaic creatures are right at home nestled in among it all.
Author: Lucy Lyons
Photos: Steven Shires