While of two minds about many things, a couple finds ground for compromise and a home truly their own with a 1964 A-frame Eichler by Jones and Emmons. It all started one day in 2002.
“Remember those weird houses that were so ’50s? Let’s go look at them,” Lori Goodman-Szorenyi proposed to husband George Szorenyi. “We thought they’d be really cheap,” she remembers.
The couple had lived in Old Town Orange, a Southern California neighborhood filled with quaint bungalows, back in the late ’80s and amused themselves by driving through the nearby Eichler Fairmeadows tract, which had a fair number of rundown eyesores back then. By the 2002 jaunt, Lori and George were living in a condo and weren’t in the market for a house. But we all know how that can play out …
“I called Stephanie [Raffel, a local realtor who specializes in Eichlers] and she said there was a waiting list,” George remembers. “I thought, Who would want these homes? They’re such a specialty buy.”
“We had no idea!” Lori interjects excitedly. “Usually I don’t like what’s mainstream, so I didn’t want your traditional house. I don’t like Mediterraneans or any of the typical California styles, and I love wood. It took us a while to get our 1964 Eichler.”
They found one with a beautiful backyard but it was trashed. [A short skirmish ensues where George remembers they didn’t buy it because it needed too much work; Lori’s recollection is they didn’t buy it because it was already in escrow.] “There was no question, this was the one,” Lori says. “The A-frame by Jones and Emmons was the model I had fallen in love with.”
“I grew up in Budapest in a house built in 1820; I like new homes,” George, a microbiologist who defected to the U.S. in 1983, says stoutly. “I would love a house like this but brand new, without all of the problems that come with an old house—plumbing, termites, roof leaks.”
The flat portions of their roof leak subtly around the air conditioning vents and George has fixed them as best he can. Some houses in the neighborhood have foam roofs, but George has heard they are a fire hazard and Lori thinks you couldn’t hear the rain through one—which is vital to her well being. Other minor issues include the four times the concrete slab in the bedroom was jack hammered in search of an elusive water leak, but so far no problems have surfaced with their radiant heated floor.
The house still has its single pane windows. “It gets cold!” Lori exclaims. “If you didn’t have the radiant heat, I don’t know how you could keep your house warm. People like to come here when it’s cold because they know it’s going to be nice and warm—then again, I set it at 75.”
George grew up surrounded by furniture from the ’20s. “To me it was all just old, crappy stuff. I always liked modern, new stuff,” he says. Lori, naturally, feels differently.
“When we were younger I loved vintage things from garage sales and thrift stores; he absolutely hates that stuff,” she says. “Every time I’d bring something home he’d get really upset. I still love it, but George is happier with new, so it’s a good compromise that some of the [MCM] things are back in production and you can get exactly what you want and it’s brand new and fresh.”
Among their iconic furnishings are a few pieces that George doesn’t “get”—specifically the fiberglass shell rocking chair and the prices many of these items command. “Some people buy the old ones for almost the same price; it’s the same stuff,” he says in wonderment.
“No, more—much more!” Lori corrects. Although she is the force behind 99 percent of their interior decor, luckily, they’re drawn to the same things and go shopping together. “The way I look at it, as long as I’m spending the same amount of money, we might as well get the new stuff,” George says.
“We’ve always had modern,” Lori explains. “But as we’ve gotten older we upgraded.”
“From IKEA to Modernica and that design thing, what is it?” George contributes.
“Design Within Reach,” Lori supplies with a laugh. “A lot of it is actually from Highbrow Furniture in Nashville,” she says. “I really like them.”
Find out more ways Lori and George made their A-frame Eichler their own—despite their differences—in part 2.