Taking on the renovation of a mid century home is always a challenge. In Fullerton, California, there’s added pressure when the homes are a beloved local symbol of a bygone era. Fullerton’s Forever Homes are a series of quintessentially modern mid century tract houses. They were constructed thanks to the influence of iconic developer and real estate mogul Joseph Eichler.
Mid Century Love
When new owners Keven and Alana Stirdivant found termites and had a significant kitchen design disaster, they started to wonder what they’d gotten into. “There was definitely some fear. We were really thinking, ‘Should we still do this?’” admits Keven, who along with his wife, Alana, purchased the home with a full renovation in mind.
The Stirdivants are both mildly obsessed with Mid Century Modern homes, design and architecture. So much so, they started a real estate company that specializes in buying and selling mid mod homes.
Having gotten their feet wet with purchases for clients, they wanted to do something a bit more hands-on. So, they set about finding an iconic 1950s home that needed thoughtful work. When they saw this home, they knew it was perfect.
Fullerton’s Forever Homes
The Stirdivants’ house is one of Fullerton’s Forever Homes. These homes have ties to Eichler, though local builder Pardee-Phillips built them. That partnership came about thanks to Eichler’s promotion of modern living on the then-popular 1950s TV show Home. This is where he offered plans that architects A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons had drawn up to developers in small towns across America.
According to the Eichler Network, the regular “‘House That Home Built’ segment tried to persuade America that glass-walled, low-gabled, modern homes would work anywhere in the country, not just sunny California.”
Many builders jumped at the chance to pick up the Jones-Emmons plans for a couple hundred dollars and launch their own modern enclaves. As a result, there are nearly 300 of these modern Forever Home designs in the southern part of Fullerton. At the time, they sold for just under $20,000.
A Major Setback
The Stirdivants bought the three bedroom, two bathroom home almost on the spot. One of the most pressing projects was dealing with the termites they found in wood paneling in a former carport that the previous owners enclosed. “They’d created more square footage but left the exterior finishes. With the stucco on the walls, it didn’t feel like part of the house,” explains Alana.
Keynote Renovations worked with the couple and started with redoing the walls on the old carport and removing its dusty stucco and a support post to make the space feel like part of the home. Removing another wall between the dining room and kitchen opened the space up, and the washer and dryer were relocated from the master bath to a hallway closet (a former pantry in the home’s original plans). The couple’s biggest splurge was on polished concrete floors across nearly all 1730 square feet of the home.
While they brought plenty of passion to this project, ultimately, they wanted to see if buyers would respond to their careful modernization of the home. It went on the market as soon as it was complete, selling almost immediately—for about $75,000 more than the highest previous price for a renovated Forever Home. “Even though we had an offer that was about $20,000 higher, we opted to sell it to this really nice couple who sent us a heartfelt letter about how much they loved the house. We just really wanted them to have it because they were such sweet people.”
Want to see more of this home? Read on here to see the kitchen and bathroom renovation.