Eichler homes are known for their openness and airiness. Claude Oakland designed this San Jose 1959 Eichler, and it’s no exception with its clerestory windows, atrium, high ceilings, open floor plan and warm wood accents.
When homeowners Farman Syed and Shazia Jafri purchased the home, the kitchen did not fit that MCM aesthetic. Instead, it felt dark, heavy and enclosed due to a decades-old renovation project. “It could best be described as a ‘poorly done DIY 1990s kitchen’ with black tile countertops and cheap cabinets,” the homeowners say. “The appliances were beginning to fail, and the lighting was no longer functional. Additionally, it had original 30-amp electrical circuits which needed upgrading.”
The kitchen had to go. Working with Pamela Lin-Tam and the team at Urbanism Designs, a design and build company, the homeowners were able to install a practical, functional kitchen for their family that respected their home’s history. “We wanted to build a modern version of what an original 1959 Eichler kitchen could be,” the homeowners say.
“[We] initially had the idea of taking a full set of original Eichler cabinets and restoring them. However, we abandoned that idea after we discussed cost estimate and practicality, and instead opted to custom build all aspects.”
1959 Eichler Aesthetic
They took design cues from other Eichler homes such as the speckled countertops and the sliding cabinets that have a mid century feel with contemporary ease.
One of the homeowners’ favorite aspects is the custom cabinet sliders with cutout pulls to open and close. “We had these made specifically to look as much like original Eichler kitchen sliders as possible. The originals were a single panel of painted wood, which fade, stain and warp with moisture. Ours are multi-ply pressboard with white laminate, which looks crisp and slides perfectly,” the homeowners explain.
“We also gave original Eichler kitchen drawer fronts to our cabinet maker to replicate those with similar modern materials. The effect is all the beauty of the original but updated with modern practicality.”
They also updated the electrical system to accommodate contemporary appliances. Selecting stainless steel appliances from Beko, they wanted durable and kid-friendly options. Vintage furnishings in the dining room and a custom geometric tile backsplash complete the space.
“With a clean and neutral base, we wanted a splash of color and geometry for the backsplash to ‘make the space,’” the homeowners say. “We added an element of randomness to the pattern to make it a bit more intriguing. [We] wanted an inviting kitchen for the family to gather and spend time in, and it definitely has had that effect.”
If you’d like to tour more MCM kitchen makeovers, take a look at this 1960s kitchen transformation with an eye-catching focal point.