Eichler Homes are special, as their owners. Karolina is one of them and today will show us the one she fell in love with and is carefully renovating with her husband David.
If you also live in a Eichler and want to share it with us, drop an email to: [email protected]
Hi Karolina – you are lucky enough to live in a Eichler house. Tell us a bit more about yourself and how you came to live in this house. How long have you been living there and how did you originally find it?
Hi! Nice to meet you. A bit about me: I am Canadian, as is my husband, David. We’re both software engineers and moved from Toronto to the San Francisco Bay Area to work in the tech industry. I’ve always had a great love of visual arts, architecture, and design, which I indulge in my spare time.
We discovered Eichlers when it came time to look for our first home. We heard about them from a friend who was also looking to buy, and who knew my personal tastes quite well. We started looking at them just for fun at first, and were amazed that these very modern homes were built as suburban tract homes in the 1960s. We found our Eichler Home after a short but intense hunt (just a few weeks– which was really lucky!) We’ve been here just about five years now and are finally doing some more serious work having gotten a feel for living here.
Did you know about Eichler and his work before buying the house?
I knew about Eichler homes only from seeing them throughout the Bay Area, but that was it. It wasn’t until we were getting serious about buying that I started to seek out more information about the history of the homes and their builder.
After we closed on our house, our lovely real estate agent gave us a copy of the book ‘Eichler: Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream’ which helped us gain a deeper appreciation of what these homes are about.
What are the 3 biggest challenges living in an Eichler Home? And the 3 biggest advantages?
Biggest challenges are
Being really mindful about preserving as many original elements of the home as we can. Our kitchen is a good example of this. It’s one of the more original parts of the house. We’ve been working to slowly rejuvenate it, by stripping it down to its original wood. As part of the process, we did discover that some of its construction was a bit hasty and the materials weren’t exactly high quality, given that these were meant to be affordable houses and probably not meant to last forever. The plan is to replace or patch broken wood while keeping it essentially the same.
Decorating an Eichler Home is proving to be quite interesting! I’m continually working on it and have a long way to go. Trying to strike the right balance between treating the home as a time capsule from when it was built (which I do love) and creating something that’s functional, comfortable, and reflective of our personal tastes is a challenge, but one I really enjoy.
Keeping warm in the winter. Our first winter was tough because we had not yet figured out how to use the radiant in-floor heating optimally. We’d be freezing during the day then roasting at night. We’ve since installed a programmable thermostat for the radiant heat. We also installed mini-split units which give us air-conditioning and heating on a per-space basis.
The Eichler Homes community. This may seem odd given how backyard-focused the houses are. I almost never see my neighbors, yet I know many of them. Most of us have met via Instagram and other social networks, and we share advice and ideas all the time. We connect the old fashioned way too, chatting with neighbors as we work on weekend projects, getting tips along the way.
The light and the openness of the home thanks to the floor to ceiling windows. From our living and dining room, I can look at both the atrium and the entire backyard. I love seeing how the light changes throughout the day and seasons. Sunrise comes through the glass panel wall at the front of our atrium, and the late afternoon sun comes in through the backyard.
We love the floor plans of these homes as they separate the living areas and private rooms very nicely. When guests visit, they have a whole corner of the house to themselves where the three small bedrooms and guest bath are. But they can still feel connected to the main living area thanks to the atrium.
You are currently renovating some areas of the house. Which are your plans and where do you get inspiration from?
We are! We have a landscaping project underway. The plan is to create more useable living spaces outdoors: dining, lounge seating, and a firepit. The space originally included a hot tub, which we removed, and flower beds which were mostly empty and took up a lot of space. We’re pushing those back with a cinder block retaining wall and installing some new concrete in the spirit of the original paving.
The inspiration is our Eichler Home itself, as we really want the landscape to complement it and echo its lines. We’re keeping it simple, incorporating mid-century appropriate materials like the cinder block and trying to veer away from overly trendy, contemporary finishes. As for other influences, I love the desert landscapes of homes in Palm Springs so we’re drawing from that as well, in as much makes sense for northern California.
Did the house come with any original furniture? And has the architectural style of the house influenced your interiors style at all?
The house did not include any original furniture, but many of the fixtures are original, like the globe lights. The architecture has absolutely influenced our interiors.
Which architectural features of the house do you enjoy the most?
We really love our atrium. It gives us this living, green space that welcomes us home when we step through the front door. The house is only 1600 square feet of interior living space, but the atrium pushes everything outward making it feel much larger. And we can see it from many rooms in the house, so it’s this visual oasis that’s just a pleasure to look at as we go about our day.
Adjoining the atrium, I love the walls of glass which surround our living room. When you walk in the front door, you can see straight into the living room and into the backyard beyond it. That part of the house is really just a glass box with posts, beams, and roof.
Lastly, we have a number of the original mahogany panels preserved. Our favourite room is the hobby room, or fourth bedroom, which opens into the atrium through a set of patio doors. It has all of its original paneling and has such a great earthy feel.
If you could live in any other famous MCM house, which one would you choose?
Oh, it’s so tough to choose! If I had to pick just one, it would be Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House II. I love how it’s open with views to the outdoors and yet has all of these cozy nooks and seating areas. Quiet but so intriguing. I could definitely live there.
You can follow Karolina and David’s renovation process on their blog Dear House I Love You.
Do you own an Eichler Home and would like to be featured on MidCenturyHome? Drop us an email to: [email protected]
Photos by Karolina Buchner.