Eichler homes have a legacy of unique modern architecture, based around openness and a visual connection to the outdoors. No wonder they are so popular among homeowners who love mid-century modern designs. Even though these homes were built around the 1950s and 60s, they are still just as stylish today. However you can imagine after 60 years, most of them are now in need of renovation to bring them up to date with current construction standards and to add a touch of the contemporary to their interiors.
This home built in 1962 needed more than just a few quick fixes. Klopf Architecture has renovated close to a hundred Eichler homes, including this one in California. I got in touch with John Klopf to find out more about this home and its renovation.
The couple who bought this gorgeous home in San Francisco were clear about the desired outcome. They wanted to maintain the Eichler aesthetics, while also updating its features to create a brighter and contemporary home. It was important for them to preserve the originality of the house, particularly the mahogany paneling found throughout the building. The couple were close friends with the person who originally supplied the Eichler Corporation mahogany panels, so it was much about paying tribute to a dear friend as it was about keeping the Eichler history alive. Gone, however, were the shingles that covered the exterior.
The shingles were removed completely. On the balconies, they were replaced with smooth plaster, and the rest of the exterior walls were restored with new Kayu Batu sidings, including the garage doors. You can clearly see the contrast. Now the home looks slick on the outside and blends in well with the green outdoors.
Moving on to the inner courtyard, the siding from outside continues here. The large gray tiles are reminiscent of the concrete floors of the original Eichler home aesthetics. These tiles are used indoors as well, creating a smooth flow that blurs the lines between inside and out.
The zinc wall panels are a special addition to the home. They cover the second floor exterior and span across the wall that faces onto the courtyard. The tiles are a tribute to the owner’s father, who long ago ran a company selling commercial building material. It’s a nice personal touch that creates an emotional relation between the house and its inhabitants to make it feel like home.
A major part of the remodeling was opening up the spaces. The original kitchen was too small, so it’s now been opened up to combine the nearby area into a larger open kitchen with beautiful views of the courtyard. As the owners are quite tall people, the height of the kitchen island and cooking platform were raised for their comfort.
The white countertops with mahogany cabinets look similar to the original fittings, while also blending with the tones of the external sidings, channeling a sense of continuity in style and color.
Another requirement was to increase the amount of storage spaces around the house. Woodwork was meticulously designed and more cabinets were added. Cabinetry in the kitchen extends towards the dining area to provide plenty of storage while also visually connecting the spaces.
Mahogany and white tones are used across the home, but the dark wood color does not dominate the interiors in any way. It is perfectly balanced with whites and the expansive views from the windows.
The home has been modernized while maintaining the Eichler style and look. The clean lines and minimal industrial style add to the beauty of this home. A lot of custom made fittings were used for the upgrade.
The subtle differences in design and furnishings show how carefully the upgrade has been executed, such as the zinc banisters and skirting detailing.
The original design had four bedrooms and the homeowners did not need so many. The two smaller bedrooms were combined to create a larger master suite with an open closet behind the bed. While before the bedroom wasn’t bright enough, even with the floor length windows, now it is has a beaming amount of light. It’s a bright open room with cozy interiors, and overall a more useful space.
You can see that the gray Italian tiles have been used here as well, to mimic the concrete floors of the Eichler designs and create a flow in design from the rest of the house.
The walk-in open closet looks gorgeous. In particular, I like the way the mahogany panels continue into this room for the inset side drawers and to connect the wall paneling with the overall design.
The bathroom received an overhaul, didn’t it? Stripping the wood back and using elements of the bold mahogany has revamped the room.
In their task to create bolder and brighter rooms, the Klopf Architecture designers opened up the rooms downstairs, too, while not compromising on Eichler design style. Also, adding more polished surfaces and white interiors help to reflect the natural light giving the appearance of bigger and brighter spaces.
In the dining area you can see a striking contrast in the before and after. The excessive woodwork and carpeted floors had made the room so dark and dingy. The white and bright dining room now looks warm and welcoming.
In this living area, a fireplace and a chimney were removed to open up the room further, which gave way to a nice TV nook. After upgrading the house to include radiant heating, the fireplace was redundant. Removing it not only helped create a nice spot for the television, but also made way for the master bathroom extension.
Keeping alive the wide vistas through the full length windows, this hillside home has been revived to be a haven for its owners. From a string of smaller spaces to a more open, generous and grand home, it is a treat to the eyes, inside and out.
The home owners are now enjoying their new abode. It must be hard to choose a favorite spot in this gorgeous home, but at least one of the favorites is the hillside view from the new master bathroom. The slope and height of the house provides enough privacy for them to enjoy the vista.
Even though John has worked on renovating many other Eichler homes, I asked him if he had any particular favorites from this project.
“I love that the whole house has been unified into a consistent design that is brighter and more contemporary than the original Eichler, but still retains the warmth of the original. Turning two smallish bedrooms into the open master bedroom / closet area is one of my favorite moves for this house.”
I also asked John if he had any tips for other home owners who would be redesigning their home at such scale.
“Put together a team that really knows and understands the style of the house and the style you’re going for. Apart from team, some design tips are: let the inside flow to the outside (and vice-versa), keep the joints and corners very minimal, use some warmer materials in the house (in this case, mahogany, which was one of the original materials) but don’t over-do it because putting all dark wood everywhere makes the interiors feel dingy, bring in lots of light, open up the spaces, and have a good design intention behind every move.”
Project Name: San Francisco Eichler Remodel
Designer: Klopf Architecture
Photography: Mariko Reed