This June, for the first time, the Yakima Arboretum will open several gardens to the public in the renowned Linden Way neighborhood for the 2019 Garden Tour. Yakima Magazine is joining the fun by featuring the Linden Way home and garden of Mitch Evans and Eric Swanson. Mitch is a landscape designer who also works at the Yakima Humane Society, and Eric is an interior decorator.
Linden Way was named for the variety of Linden trees that were planted on the dead-end street after 1922 when families started building houses in the neighborhood. The street is recognized for its beautiful homes and friendly neighbors who love to get together. Every year they put on a Fourth of July celebration that includes a children’s parade.
Eric and Mitch, who were living in Kirkland, were considering a move to California. During this time, they were producing an antique show and happened to meet Michelle and Rob Wyles from Yakima. The couple invited them to visit Yakima and meet people involved in the arts in Eastern Washington. This visit allowed them to see the Yakima Valley with new eyes. Mitch and Eric say that something about the light and the beauty of the Valley called to them. They visited often and began making new friends.
One of those friends told them about a house for sale on Linden Way. Built in 1925, the Scottish Tudor-style home offered 2,700 square feet of living space, a huge front yard garden and enclosed backyard. “Basically, we loved the house!” Eric said. Since the homeowners were in the process of downsizing, they were eager to talk price, ending the negotiations with a handshake. On the drive back to Kirkland, both Mitch and Eric were a bit taken aback that they’d just bought a house in Yakima. They were even more amazed when the homeowners called two weeks later to tell them they’d bought a condo and were moving in 14 days. It took two short months for Eric and Mitch to sell their westside home, pack up, and relocate to Yakima.
Driving up to the 94-year-old house, it becomes immediately apparent that all its owners have taken great care of it. The arched alcove to the traditional front door and multi-paned windows reveal how the owners have honored the original design. Even the addition of a second-story sleeping porch on the north side of the home fits the original style perfectly.
Once inside, you’re welcomed by a gorgeous grandfather clock and tall staircase that leads to the second story, where a very shy dog peeks at you. Entering the living room instantly makes you realize that the owners have a real affinity for antique furniture, but are not afraid to mix it with more modern pieces. They painted the fireplace white to complement the marble inset around a brass screen. An assortment of fun vintage objects decorates the mantel and a large round gold-framed mirror creates a focal point for the room. Erica and Mitch’s Shiba Inu, Peachy, sits happily on a side chair, completing the picture.
When Mitch and Eric moved in, they embarked on a few remodeling projects that would update the décor without sacrificing the home’s historic charm. They hired professionals to remove the wallpaper throughout the main floor. The task mushroomed into a much bigger job when they discovered not one, not two, but four separate layers had to be removed. When it was completed, they painted the walls Nordic Gray, a Benjamin Moore historic color.
They hired well-known local flooring expert John Petrea to take up the main level’s wall-to-wall carpeting and refinish the original wood floors beneath. Once the carpet was removed, they discovered what may be the original oak flooring. When the flooring was refinished, Petrea claimed the wood was “the most beautiful he’d ever seen.” Not done yet, they did some research and were able to paint the exterior of the house the same color it was originally — “Storm Cloud Grey.”
A delightful sunroom is just adjacent to the living room. The light from its many-paned windows and Mitch’s array of potted plants make for a relaxing spot to read or have pre-dinner drinks with friends. Mitch winters more plants in his garage and brings them outside in the spring to decorate the backyard patio that’s covered by a striking black pergola, which Mitch and his father designed and installed.
The home’s dining room is across the hall from the living room. A large, multi-leaf antique table and vintage spindle-back dining chairs provide plenty of room for sit-down dinners. Mitch and Eric have covered most of the downstairs floors with area rugs that still allow a glimpse of the polished oak floors. An antique brass chandelier adds a touch of historic elegance to the dining room.
The upstairs features two bedrooms, with one being used as Eric’s office. There’s also a guest bedroom just off the sleeping porch. The home’s basement has room for a casual den for watching television and relaxing.
Perhaps the home’s biggest surprise is the size of the kitchen just off the dining room. This compact galley kitchen has never been remodeled. The current owners have happily adapted to the room’s limitations, even to the 18-inch dishwasher, one of the more modern additions. Right now, they appear to enjoy its challenges and have no desire to take out a wall to create an open concept or add an island.
One thing Eric and Mitch enjoy about living on Linden Way is their friendly neighbors. Early on, while working on the house, they heard a knock on the door. They opened it to find Ozzie Park, a neighbor from the other end of the street, wanting to know if they needed any help. This friendliness pervades Linden Way.
Eric and Mitch must pinch themselves when they think about their good fortune, finding an historic house, perfectly suited for their love of antiques and gardening. And the neighborhood was lucky to have Eric and Mitch move in and become such excellent stewards of their home as it approaches its second century. It will be part of the 2019 Garden Tour on June 15.