Frogs are ribbitting in the post-rain luminescence of a spring afternoon above Rogue Valley's fogline. This is a residential street that winds high onto Roxy Ann Peak. The frogs sound like they're perched in a landscaped water feature or perhaps in a small, nearby pond.
A sleek doorway opens. Inside, a gold-foiled wooden Buddha sits (not un-froglike) on a heavy wooden sideboard. Huge palm leaves populate a small, dense tropical corner of this cool, richly tiled entry.
When they were shopping for a home in 2004, only one thing about the East Medford hills house caused Brad Earl and Cher Everhart pause — the landscaping, or, more accurately, lack thereof. Built in the foothills of Roxy Ann Peak, the house was commodious enough inside, but the front yard was small and the backyard narrow and mean.
"There was just this ginormous concrete retaining wall that was put in at a bad angle and weeds past that; it was just an eyesore," says Earl of the backyard that butts up to wilderness. "We looked at it and thought, 'What are we going to do with that?' "
At first, the couple envisioned a relatively modest patio for outdoor dining and relaxing. Earl, who had already replaced the retaining wall with a shorter version and landscaped the front and sides of the house with stone pathways, plantings, French drains and a sprinkler system, brought in Al Haug, owner of Provision Construction in Medford.
"He and I went a little crazy, and that's where we got to where we're at," chuckles Earl, strolling past a rectangular reflection pool punctured by a sturdy column (Everhart's inspiration) to the 300-square-foot outdoor kitchen. To create the two-sided, roofed structure, Haug built two new columns that anchor the kitchen to the house. All four of the backyard columns were then wrapped with a stone surround that matches the home's front.
A wall of stone-topped cabinets, a fridge, a range and a full grill with side burners populate the most protected kitchen wall. To mimic the "Bali cabana feel" that Everhart liked, Earl and Haug installed a wooden beadboard ceiling to shelter the kitchen and dining areas. A large, glass tabletop allows a South Pacific-themed rug to show while Asian statues watch from the sidelines.
"We love finding eclectic pieces and thought it really created a great feeling out here," says Earl, who loves to watch bike races on the large-screen television or entertain under strands of sparkling lights. "And having Roxy Ann in our backyard is nice — there's always wildlife to watch — and it never gets too hot thanks to the breezeway."
What started out as a "huge challenge" has become one of the Earl-Everhart family's favorite places to be — with or without a visit from a resident coyote pup.
We've entered the lower floor of Brad Earl and Cher Everhart's just-under-4,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home in Medford. A reverse floor plan — with entry on the lower floor and stairs leading up to the main living space — is part of the home's contemporary Northwest design.
The couple bought the spec home — built by Andy North of Pacific Northwest Builders of Ashland — in 2004. Part of the appeal was its amazing connection to the surrounding wilderness — not a day goes by when Earl, Everhart and their daughter, Aubree, don't spy a pheasant, frog, quail or even a coyote.
The family also relish their view of the Rogue Valley's weather, landscape and urbanism visible through all the west- and south-facing windows. On the lower floor, just off the entry, is a family room transformed into a workout space. Earl (who races bicycles) has a wind trainer positioned in front of the window, so when it's raining, he can watch the view or a movie on a screen hidden in an armoire. Everhart trains on weight machines and a treadmill. A nearby red leather chair is perfect for a spot of solitude while sipping morning coffee.
More red leather furniture adds sleekness to a narrow media and game room built along the back of the lower floor; this is where Aubree likes to entertain friends when they're not hanging out in her "funky, like me" bedroom.
"The platform bed was my idea," says the creative 18-year-old, who painted the Jackson Pollock-inspired piece that serves as headboard. A guest room and bath round out the lower floor.
We follow Brazilian hardwood stairs — secured by a black, metal, post-and-cable railing system — up to the main floor. A dramatic jade plant at the top of the stairs hints at the couple's modern-meets-exotic, pan-ethnic design sensibility. Cove ceilings and arched doorways define several intimate conversation, lounging and dining areas.
The hardwood floors reach into a contemporary, open kitchen outfitted with a U-shaped stretch of cherry-stained wooden cabinets, two stacked ranges and a large, centrally located island. The granite countertop's green veins add contrast to the rich wood and lead the eye to a south-facing corner window that delivers unfettered views of faraway Mount Ashland.
"From the breakfast nook we can see Anderson, Wagner, Grayback and the Siskiyous," says Earl of the cozy space furnished with a round glass table and red leather chairs. Glass doors open to the front deck, where a grill and seating area are perfect for bird's-eye dining.
Next to the nook is the family's formal living room, defined by its cove ceiling and a classic pillar. Two low-backed, deep, conversation chairs face a tan suede sofa to carve out a conversation pit warmed by the fireplace. Everhart wanted an "African continent look" for the room, so Earl sourced tables with woven fiber tops and African textiles for decor.
"That's how it works for us," explains Earl. "Cher finds an inspiration photo for a style she likes, then I have the vision for finding pieces that work."
Another such piece is the woven leather sofa table in the main floor's central hall; Earl found it in a downtown Medford shop. The central hall provides access to a powder room, a small back deck and Everhart's home office. The latter feels warm and well used, with shelves full of family photos, inherited treasures and a window that lets in year-round views of Roxy Ann's wilderness.
Between the hall and kitchen is a formal dining room voluminous enough for holidays and dinner parties. Gold-framed pictures of Mediterranean villas add an Old-World touch.
An expansive master suite fills the home's southwest corner, where floor-to-ceiling windows invite "the best views in the whole place," says Earl.
"This room has more of a South Pacific/Bali style," he continues. "We just started picking out pieces to use — the curved sleigh bed, the privacy screen that we placed in front of the deck door was great for adding privacy, and we love the funky little chairs with woven sides that sit in front of the entertainment center and fireplace."
Whimsy in the form of Everhart's rubber ducky collection add fun to the master bath, where 18-by-18-inch travertine tiles are neutral and smooth, accented by a pebbled shower floor. The couple reveres the large, walk-in closet, where wardrobes are well organized and individual accoutrements (like Earl's old BMX helmet) add personality and nostalgia.
"We didn't have to do much to the house when we bought it — we just decorated," says Earl. The couple's signature style — exotic and luxurious but never pretentious — creates the perfect setting for all of life's activities, including listening to the frogs.