A firepit from Target (modified from wood to gas burning and with different legs) and the two teak and metal benches from IKEA make this area of the back yard a magnet on chilly San Jose evenings.

Bill and Kim Pfahnl left their longtime Craftsman home for a run-down 1959 Eichler a-frame home (part 1) and tackled every part of the renovation, including freshening up the kitchen (part 2). With the big spaces done, the couple took to furnishing their midcentury house by paying attention to all the details, starting from the floor up—literally.

The Pfahnls chose vinyl composite tile (VCT) to floor the entire house. Since it would work well with radiant heating and was the closest thing to the original Eichler flooring, big-picture guy Bill knew from the outset that that’s what he wanted. Kim took longer to convince.

“I thought of slate, because that’s what other people were doing, or a new skim coat of concrete, even palm or bamboo. But we already had stainless steel and cement block and mahogany and birch and slate in that space. I didn’t think we could do one more cold thing on the floor,” she says. “Eichlers are so much about the floors, especially this model. I didn’t want people exclaiming over the material. I didn’t want the floor to be anything more than just a floor.”

Kim, who stages houses for a living, furnished somewhat minimally in the living room, with a couch and floor lamp from Design Within Reach teamed with a coffee table from IKEA and a generic “potato chip” chair. The atrium-accessible bedroom houses a TV/media room with a bar refrigerator for drinks and comfortable seating, including a Le Corbusier Basculant armchair covered in cowhide.

In the entry atrium, an Inox table and two Pensi Bikini chairs, both from dwr, sit in the sun. The open sliding glass door leads to the TV room, while the brown beams and orange door, authentic Eichler colors, complement the new sage-colored exterior.


The family took their time with this major renovation of their midcentury house. “Both Kim and I are great procrastinators,” Bill admits with a laugh. (Years ago he threw her a surprise wedding because they continued to postpone setting a date.) “So we volunteered to host 200 people for a post-Eichler-home-tour party.” That did the trick; they finished up just in time.

“We knew this house would be much different than our last, and that we could make it something special,” Kim says today. “Eichlers can be scary to some people, but they’re never boring. How could you not have an emotional reaction to this home?”