After a fire, this Eichler-inspired home had to be rebuilt from the ground up. How to go about rebuilding an Eichler?
This San Mateo neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of Eichler homes in California. Atop one of its lots an original Eichler used to sit, built in the mid century. However, an unfortunate grill fire made quick work of this so-called “two-minute Eichler,” a reference to how quickly its all-wood structure succumbed to the fire.
So, when later owners of the burnt-down lot reached out to Klopf Architecture to rebuild, they knew they wanted to include classic Eichler elements, while making the home work better for the homeowners than the original Eichler ever could have.
Rebuilding an Eichler
One of the biggest changes in the rebuild was the layout of the home. One of the homeowners wanted to include an additional primary suite for their mother, which presented a challenge for the already narrow lot.
“Your back wall is your connection to the outdoors,” says architect John Klopf. “It can only be a certain number of feet wide, and [if] you have two primary suites back there, you don’t have much space for a living room to connect to the back either.”
The solution came in an L-shaped layout, which was markedly different from the classic square shape of Eichler homes, but it fit the lot (and the homeowners’ needs) much better.
As project manager Klara Kevane explains, the new layout for the San Mateo home is made up of two volumes, with the first volume holding the garage and the additional primary suite. The second volume is the main house, which includes a primary suite, a guest bedroom and bathroom, a TV room, an office and an open-concept living area.
The open-concept living area features a kitchen, a dining space and a living room. The kitchen cabinetry is also seen in the bathrooms and bedrooms, maintaining a sense of continuity throughout the home. “In an open concept house like this, with a lot of flow,” says John, “we want to keep the same material all throughout the house. We want the same cabinetry all throughout the house, and it should all have the same palette … even down to, in this case, the bathroom wall tiles.”
Design Recipe for an Eichler
But it was crucial that the rebuilt home didn’t lose its Eichler look. On the exterior of the home, many quintessential Eichler elements were re-added, like the low profile of the home, its overhanging roof and vertical siding. “[We wanted to] keep the house more private towards the street facade, and have it look more like a wood wall,” says John.
Eichler colors were also used where possible, like the subtle orange front door and deep gray siding. Together these elements make the home blend in in its neighborhood full of Eichlers. But it almost wasn’t that way. When they were building the home, it had to be reframed at the last-minute, as the original framing on the hilly lot made the home look two stories tall. “We didn’t want to look like a two-story home from the street,” says John. “It stood out, and we wanted to try to preserve the whole feel of the neighborhood … It was well worth it [to change the framing] to prevent the house from looking like this two-story monstrosity.”
Inside, the home’s Eichler feel continues. One of the biggest ways it shines through is in the home’s expansive wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. The windows look out onto a picture-perfect courtyard, which holds a pool, space to entertain and an outdoor kitchen.
Rebuilding an Eichler with Indoor-Outdoor Feeling
Bringing the inside and outside together as one is a must for any mid century home, especially in California. And it’s no different for this Eichler rebuild. One of the ways John and his team created the indoor-outdoor feeling was through the home’s concrete slab flooring, which fills the interior of the home and is continued outside. “The floor slab is exposed concrete flooring with radiant heating, which is another typical Eichler element,” says Klara.
And as the lot sits on a slope, the courtyard has a retaining wall. But rather than trying to hide or remove the wall, it’s instead highlighted, covered in lush plantings and boulders. The home sits up against the wall, where it’s highlighted through window placements, which, John says, create the feeling of the home being perfectly integrated into the landscape.
Want more Eichler? Read about Joseph Eichler or see Eye for an Eichler: Tour a Renovated Eichler Getaway in California. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Mid Century Modern inspiration!