See the Careful Transformation of a Midcentury Eichler in San Francisco

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Joseph Eichler developed more than 11,000 homes in California from 1949 to 1966, and though tons are still standing today, many of them have lost their authenticity after going through drastic transformations—but this particular renovation is a different story.

Josh and Moeka Lowman of San Francisco branding firm Goldfront reached out to Michael Hennessey Architecture to renovate the interior of their two-story, single-family residence in Diamond Heights, which was built by Eichler in 1965. Michael Hennessey explains, "We struck a balance between the positive, inherent qualities of an Eichler structure with modern improvements that enhance rather than compete with the existing building."

Kitchen - Before 

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One defining feature of Eichler homes is the exposed post-and-beam construction. Hennessey accentuated this feature within the residence while combining concrete, wood veneer, and tile details in a layered composition. 

Kitchen - After

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To stay true to the indoor/outdoor setup that Eichler homes are known for, Hennessey installed new full-height, sliding-glass panels to increase the house’s energy efficiency, while opening up the space visually towards distant views of San Francisco's Noe Valley. 

Living Space - Before

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Eichler favored open-floor plans and a lack of interior walls, as this would make everything more accessible, allow for a more flexible use of formal living spaces, and increase interaction between family members. 

Living Space - After

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Hennessey honored this aspect of Eichler’s approach by reconfiguring the living area on the upper floor and relocating the kitchen so that it would be more directly connected with the living space. 

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The outdoor decks were rebuilt as extensions of the interior spaces in order to bring the outdoors in. The bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the lower floor. 

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In the middle of the living lounge is a concrete-block fireplace, which replaced a 1980s-style, stone-veneer mantel. 

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Because the house had been extensively renovated by past owners over the years, there were no original finishes to preserve, so Hennessey stripped the interior back to its original post-and-beam structure and tongue-and-groove ceiling. 

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To emphasize the regularity of the layout, the beams were painted dark gray, which were made to match new dark-colored window frames. To create contrast, the existing tongue-and-groove ceiling was painted light gray, which makes it seem as if the space is expanding upward. 

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Mahogany slip-matched, wood-veneer paneling—a finish that was commonly found in Eichler houses—was used for the fit-outs to bring a warm, retro atmosphere to the main living areas. 

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The kitchen was designed with concrete countertops and cabinetry detailing that are distinctly modern, but still follow the rhythm of Eichler’s post-and-beam language. 

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Project Credits: 

- Architecture and Interior Design: Michael Hennessey Architecture (MHA)

- Builder/General Contractor: Brendan Waters Construction

- Structural Engineer: Berkeley Structural Design 

- Energy-Efficiency Analyst: EnergySoft