16 Renovated Eichlers That Epitomize Midcentury California Cool

By Alia Akkam / Published by Dwell

From 1949 to 1966, prolific real estate developer Joseph Eichler collaborated with renowned architects to build some 11,000 of his trademark tract houses across the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

These midcentury-modern residences, inspired in part by the Frank Lloyd Wright house Eichler grew up in, were affordable and coveted by the booming post–World War II middle class. Featuring such signature characteristics as post-and-beam construction, Eichler houses were graced by an abundance of exposed wood, as well as open spaces that emphasized a connection to the outdoors. Streamlined, well-preserved Eichlers are still beloved by the design community and history-appreciative homeowners—and some push boundaries, balancing original elements with imaginative, expansive, revamped layouts.

Here, we've gathered a selection of spruced-up Eichler homes from the Dwell.com archives. These renovations reflect a contemporary, active lifestyle, while staying true to Eichler’s original vision. Let us know in the comments which of these projects compels you most.

1. A Designer Renovates Her Family's Eichler and Launches a Career

For Urbanism Design's first project, interior designer Pamela Lin-Tam made the atrium the centerpiece of this Eichler. Here, the living area enticingly faces the swimming pool.

Jessica Makes Studio

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2. Natural Light Fills an Eichler Great Room

Built in the early 1970s, the house's kitchen, living, and dining areas were originally divided into three distinct zones. In order for this great room to flow as one, Klopf Architecture removed the glass doors and solid walls separating the enclosed atrium from the kitchen and living room.  A Herman Miller trade poster, Design Within Reach book tower, and IKEA sofa mingle in the space. 

Photo: Mariko Reed

3. A Thoughtfully Transformed San Francisco Eichler

San Francisco–based Michael Hennessey Architecture paid homage to Eichler's affinity for open spaces by reconfiguring the living area on the upper floor and moving the kitchen to organically connect the rooms.

Courtesy of Joe Fletcher

4. An Architect Couple Expands an Eichler For a Growing Family

In the South Bay, San Jose–based BLAINE Architects expanded this Eichler by transforming the old carport into an atrium. A folding glass NanaWall system allows the owners to watch their kids in the playroom from the kitchen.

Photo: Jean Bai / Konstrukt Photo

5. A Shiny New Kitchen is the Star of This Eichler

The once dim, cramped kitchen in this 1963 Eichler now features luxe vinyl tiling, white slab fronts from Semihandmade, and a dual-pane window, courtesy of Cathie Hong Interiors.

Christy Q Photography

6. Inside Health and Lifestyle Coach Joanne Encarnacion's Eichler

This double A-frame Eichler was renovated by Phoenix–based Mackenzie Collier Interiors. Joanne Encarnacion's office is located in the atrium, on the opposite side of her husband's. Graphic bursts of black and white are complemented by greenery and positive affirmations.

Sothear Nuon

7. Transforming a San Mateo Eichler Into a Family Home

Klopf Architecture updated this Eichler with a radiant floor heating system, re-stained paneling, and a new office/guest room filled with Eichler hallmarks like dark bronze door handles.

Mariko Reed

8. A Palo Alto Eichler Is Reconfigured to Add Heaps of Space

Klopf Architecture's modest 72-square-foot addition at the front of the home blends in with the original structure while giving the owners a greater sense of openness in the master and hall bathrooms. Inside, the re-imagined great room now features dining space.

Photo: Mariko Reed

Shop the Look

Mid-Century Modern: Icons of Design

This gift book, featuring sophisticated illustrations of classic pieces, is a must- have for lovers of Mid-Century Modern design. Mid-Century Modern remains one of the most popular, collectable, and dynamic styles of international design. This gift book features original illustrations of iconic mid-century designs, from Eames chairs to Poul Henningsen lamps and George Nelson clocks, all rendered in a distinctive graphic style. Featuring more than 90 pieces by over 60 designers and design duos, Mid-Century Modern: Icons of Design is arranged chronologically, and includes chairs, tables, storage, lighting, and product and industrial designs. On each spread, a stylish illustration of the piece is accompanied by a concise overview; an index of models, designers and manufacturers makes the book a useful reference. Inspired by one of the most iconic eras of modern design, this covetable gift book brings a touch of Mid-Century Modern style into any home. Publisher: Thames & Hudson Photo Courtesy of Thams & Hudson


Safavieh Roe Retro Mid-Century Coffee Table

The natural beauty of this Safavieh Roe Retro Mid-Century Coffee Table brings instant style to any room. Featuring an industrial chic iron base with a chic lacquer top that adds a cool, modern look to any room. Photo Courtesy of Safavieh


Louis Poulsen PH 5 Mini Pendant

The PH 5 Mini Pendant by Louis Poulsen was designed by Poul Henningsen in 1958 to create glare-free light. With multiple finishes to choose from, hanging the pendant anywhere is easy. The pendant uses three shades. Because of this, the light is illuminated downward and out, creating a sense that it is lighting itself. When you hear the name Louis Poulsen, you think distinctive modern Danish lighting. From the classic icons of the 1920s to more recent pieces, all Louis Poulsen lighting is created based on a deep-felt respect for architecture, understanding the emotional effect of lighting and the belief that shadow is just as aesthetically important as light. All three aspects manifest themselves in the sculptural layering and comfortable, glare-free light of Louis Poulsen pendants, wall, table, and floor lamps. Photo Courtesy of Lumens


9. Weaving Scandinavian Flair Into an Eichler

Some of this Eichler's original highlights remain, such as the tongue-and-groove redwood ceiling decking and the now re-stained luan wall paneling. In the kitchen, walnut is juxtaposed with crisp white, and the light blue found in the dining area is a unifying accent color.

Photo: Mariko Reed

10. A Klopf Architecture Renovation in Burlingame

To blur the line between indoors and outdoors, San Francisco–based Klopf Architecture integrated glass doors that organically separate the living area from the patio.

Photo by Mariko Reed

11. A Couple Upgrades Their A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons Home

Originally designed by the architectural dream team of A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons, this Eichler sports a new kitchen. One highlight is the island, which the design team crafted in the owners' own backyard. It's outfitted with bespoke walnut cabinetry by Semihandmade for IKEA. Photo by John Shum.

Photo: Destination Eichler

12. A Building Lab Renovation in San Rafael

Oakland–based Building Lab effortlessly connected the patio to the living and bedroom areas just beyond the striking wall of windows.

Photo: Scott Hargis

13. An Eichler Sprouts a Bernard Trainor-Designed Garden

This circa-1958 Eichler in Silicon Valley makes a mesmerizing first impression with its combination of ipe wood and neon-yellow resin. A garden, courtesy of landscape designer Bernard Trainor, fosters the illusion of more space.

Photo: Daniel Hennessy

14. Indoors and Outdoors Merge in This Palo Alto Eichler

Klopf Architecture, Arterra Landscape Architects, and Flegels Construction joined forces to refurbish this Palo Alto Eichler. Standout features include a fully opening glass wall, an outdoor living area with a kitchen and fire pit, and furniture by Kayu and Primary Pouf. 

Photo: Mariko Reed

15. Serrao Design/Architecture Tackles a 1949 Eichler

Living, dining, and kitchen spaces flow into one another in the soaring great room. Here, the Sacramento firm placed new, polished concrete slabs over the original ones to alleviate unsightly cracks. 

Photo: Kat Alves

16. A Mountain View Eichler Embraces New Materials

This Eichler is wrapped with vertical western red cedar. One of the reasons Klopf Architecture selected this material is because of its low-VOC stain. It matches the color of the original siding, which had sadly seen better days.

Photo by Mariko Reed

Related Reading: What Are Eichler Homes and Why Do People Love Them? 


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