When developer Joseph Eichler first started building, he probably had no idea that his homes would turn into prized collector’s pieces. Eichler employed a series of talented architects to create beautiful and well-thought-out designs with features such as radiant heating that were not widely used at the time. His contribution to the mid-century modern movement during the 20th century gained worldwide recognition and is still appreciated today amongst Eichler homeowners and architects alike. After several decades of helping a numerous amount of our clients become Eichler enthusiasts, we’ve come to realize that Eichler’s overall philosophy for modernistic designs can be applied to any home in need of a renovation. In other words, you don’t need an actual Eichler home in order to take advantage of his stylistic and aesthetically pleasing design techniques. Keep in mind that there are obvious renovations that may be too costly for you to make, such as his exposed post-and-beam construction and anything related to the actual structure of the home, but you can still apply his design philosophies to the interior of your home. With that being said, here are our suggested design ideas that’ll turn any home into an Eichler inspired home.
1. Bring the Outside In
Eichlers are like living in a piece of art. It blends the shelter on the inside with the serenity of nature on the outside so that it’s more than just a residence. “Bringing the outside in” has been one of Eichler’s known philosophies and really ties into the idea of opening the world to Eichler homeowners without requiring them to actually leave home. Whether you have an atrium or not, the openness to nature is always noticeable in an Eichler. Huge floor-to-ceiling windows that double as walls grace the rear of many Eichlers. This has the effect of opening the kitchen and the spare room to the backyard. While Eichler kitchens tend to be small, they never feel small because your gaze is on the world outside. If you have a backyard, make sure you take the time to maintain it and upkeep its visual appeal. Well-placed skylights and transoms also systematically bring the outdoors in. Hallways that would otherwise be dark become bathed in natural light, which complements the wooden tongue-in-groove ceilings, natural wood, and post-and-beam construction. Even the formal dining room found off the kitchen in many homes receives natural light flooding in from the kitchen. So when you’re remodeling your home just remember two key components that’ll allow you to achieve this Eichler philosophy: Natural lighting & Visuals of the outside world.
2. Open Floor Plans
Eichler’s idea behind this open floor plan concept was to encourage a more modern relationship between the kitchen, traditionally considered a working zone, and formal spaces such as the living room and dining room. This type of floor plan combines the kitchen and adjacent living areas into a single, large gathering space where family members and guests can interact during the entire course of a visit, not just during the sit-down meal. An open layout is a great way to maximize space in a small plan and will provide more natural lighting because the removal of interior walls allows sunlight from windows in the exterior walls to permeate throughout the house. Open layouts are becoming more and more popular, making up the majority of today’s bestselling plans. If your existing floor plan isn’t meeting your needs, think about where in the home it can be broken down differently. There are many ways to make the kitchen accessible to the living and dining areas: You can widen a doorway, create a pass-through, knock down the upper half of a wall, or remove an entire wall.
3. In-floor Radiant Heating
Radiant heating systems supply heat directly to the floor or to panels in the wall or ceiling of a house. It’s more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses. What usually happens in a conventional forced-air heating system is air blows out of the registers at a well-baked 120 degrees, rises to the top of the room where it quickly sheds heat, then drops back down as it cools. This means that your head can be bathed in warmth while your toes lie in the frozen zone. Also, people with allergies often prefer radiant heat because it doesn’t distribute allergens as forced air systems can.
We recommend hydronic (liquid-based) systems because they use little electricity which is a benefit for homes off the power grid or in areas with high electricity prices. Hydronic systems can use a wide variety of energy sources to heat the liquid, including standard gas- or oil-fired boilers, wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or a combination of these sources. However, keep in mind that once the system is in place, it’s best to have hardwood or tile finished floor since the heat would have a hard time getting through the thick padding of carpets. Although hydronic radiant costs more to install than other types of heating systems (can cost anywhere from $6 to $15 per square foot depending on the method and where you live) just remember that once it’s up and running, a radiant system can be up to 30 percent more efficient than forced-air heating, depending on how well insulated a house is. And there’s no comparison when it comes to comfort. In that category, radiant always wins, feet down.
4. Get a Fresh Paint Job
We could spend all day talking about the different paint jobs that’ll make your home look more modern, but we’re saving those details for later. However, we can’t emphasize enough how much this will change the look and feel of your home. A fresh coat of paint can give any room an instant makeover, and one part of the room that lots of people overlook is the ceiling. If you repaint the ceiling in a clean bright white, it will make the entire room look immediately brighter. You can even paint it a similar color to the walls, just go one shade lighter. Remember that in order to create a modern and fresh look, a bright and light base color with added contrasts of accent colors throughout the home is key. And don’t be afraid to go a little bold with the accent colors because greens and oranges are some Eichler favorites! If you want to take it one step further, look at our blog on Eichler front door colors.
5. Modernize your Furniture
This is probably one of the easier projects you can take on in order to make your home look more like an Eichler. The Mid-century Modern Eichler home style is a unique reminder of the suburban lifestyle of the 1950s and the 1960s and so even the furniture that you consider “outdated” could be revamped into a more modernistic piece. You can even consider updating your entire interior design to match the magic look of Mid-Century Modern homes. Check out our blog on top interior design tips and inspirations for Eichler and Mid-Century Modern homeowners.
Written by PotlucK Productions
A beautiful 1962 Eichler has undergone extensive home improvements to fit the near-zero carbon emission life of its homeowners, Geoff and Bev Ainscow.
Meet the Ainscows
In 1968 Geoff and his wife, Bev, sailed from their birthplace in Manchester, England to the San Francisco Bay Area to become embroiled in the technological and social new age revolution taking place in California. They set up their home in Sunnyvale and raised two children. Geoff’s life travelled on two tracks, one a daytime engineering and management career at Hewlett Packard in Silicon Valley, the other studying the human maturation process and the condition of life on planet Earth. Both richly combined into a life of activism and teaching to spread the knowledge of a living Earth and what humans must do to bring about a sustainable, just, and meaningful life. Explosive change best describes Geoff’s life, from being born into WWII, to a life of free-thinking in California. Geoff and a team designed, produced, and published the Deep Time Walk, an app describing the history of Earth. He has been an active member of the Elders Action Network since its beginning in 2016.
The Sustainable Project: How To Be A Good Ancestor
Geoff and Bev filmed the Good Ancestor video of their Sunnyvale Eichler, just 4 weeks before Bev tragically died in 2021. The aim was to inspire viewers to think and act like Good Ancestors. Geoff and Bev have been curious seekers with a desire to be conscious global citizens for a lifetime in large part by constantly finding ways to improve their home to be more environmentally sustainable. Wanting to share what they’re doing and hopefully inspire others, they partnered with Potluck Productions to share how they’ve achieved their sustainable life.
The humorous video follows Geoff and Bev with a tour through their home, touching on several topics:
- Solar panels
- Passive solar sun scoops
- Zero electricity bill
- Smart appliances (set to run at non-peak hours)
- LED bulbs
- Double pane outside windows
- Electric vehicles
- Electric folding bikes
- Compost system and low-water garden/landscaping
- Rainwater harvesting
Good Ancestor Video Team: PotlucK Productions
Dan Damman and Chris Thomas, as Potluck Productions, have been producing branded content, documentaries, comedy sketches, and other films from the heart, like “Good Ancestor” since 2004 for clients like Mother Jones, Senator Barbara Boxer, She the People, Democracy for America, DailyKos, and Netroots Nation. Other clients include Levi Strauss & Co., the Red Tab Foundation, Tides Foundation, MoveOn.org, Dockers, and many more. They are in development on an amazing feature film project encouraging self-awareness, a dramedy called “The Yogi Trademark” that explores our culture’s competitive nature through competitive yoga.
The color scheme of an Eichler is one of the primal elements that separate it from any other home because it reflects the emergence of a new and unconventional era. The mid-century time period exhibited a new American outlook of optimism, with bright and cheerful colors that symbolized its breakage from the drab war years. Joseph Eichler took this concept and ran with it, mixing subtler colors with bright, bold colors in a way that hadn’t been done before. Since Eichler homes have a lot of glass, post-and-beam construction, and concrete floors, natural colors and materials are a good starting point to make them feel homey. However, an Eichler wouldn’t be an Eichler without playful wall accents and eye-catching front door colors.
We get a lot of questions from both Eichler and Mid-Century Modern homeowners about suggestions for front door colors and we start by telling them that they must think in terms of complete home palettes that complement both the exterior and interior of their home. For example, if they choose to go with a bright yellow front door color, we suggest they put a yellow accent wall inside the home or jazz it up with yellow furnishing. We also mention that they should choose a color that reflects their personality, hopes, and dreams, whether it be a color that stands out or a color that’s more calm and elegant. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite front door colors using the Original Eichler Exterior Color Palette as an inspiration:
Although Benjamin Moore doesn’t have all of the exact Eichler colors in their inventory, they have a wide selection you can choose from that stay true to the colors that Eichler originally used. They also allow you to buy samples (1 pint) for around $7 so that you can test the colors out and see if they’ll compliment the overall color palette of your home.
One last thing we want to mention is that color is something you should have fun with, so step out of your comfort zone and let your front door reflect your optimistic, wild side!
Fun, Bold & Eye-Catching Colors
Simple, Neutral & Elegant
For more information about Eichler front door colors, contact us today
People are attracted to Eichler homes because of their everlasting quality portrayed in the design. Where old and new blend together in a harmonious way. In essence, Eichlers respect the era they originated from while staying true to the needs of today’s homeowners. Since Eichler homes were quite innovative for their time and reflect the underlying philosophy of modernism, which was to create a new way of living during a pivotal time in our country’s history, it’s important for homeowners to take this same approach when designing their home. Now, this doesn’t mean painting the whole living room in an eye-catching color to make it stand out. But rather taking the time to initially investigate the history of the home, the era it was built in, and the overall flow of the architecture and then deciding upon a color that fits cohesively into both your preferences and the comprehensive design of the home.
It’s important to also remember that one’s home is a reflection of oneself, so feel free to leave your own thumbprint on the design. If you don’t feel a real connection to your Eichler, there’s something wrong with the foundation of your design. The structure of these homes was built to be unobtrusive so that homeowners could successfully portray this idea of modernism in whatever way suited them best. There’s a way to respect your home’s original design integrity without forgoing a modern-day perspective, so it’s important to be strategic yet true to yourself when coming up with the design. Whether a homeowner is moving into a new space or remodeling an existing home he or she has lived in for decades, it’s important, they are honest with themselves in order to have a home perfect for their needs. So with all this in mind, here are some interior design tips to get your Eichler home truly looking and feeling like an Eichler. This article will also be useful to those of you who are trying to get some midcentury modern interior design inspirations for your home.
1. Balance is Key
When you’re blending pieces from different eras or cultures, the key is to find balance through universal elements such as size and color. For example, if you have a large, bold piece of furniture in a room, pair it with a piece that’s more delicate in detailing but vibrant in color to balance out the difference. Strategically blending pieces together will help to create space in all the areas of a room that are inviting and interesting. Start by figuring out what your fundamental needs are in a home and get a feel for how they will play into your decor space. Do this by reflecting on how you currently live in your home’s space and filtering out what works for you and what doesn’t. Once you’ve solved the bigger picture, you can start to narrow down on the smaller spaces and accessories layer by layer. When you’re in doubt just remember the equation: bold and large with little color equals vibrant color with small delicate detailing.
2. Choose the Right Colors
We cannot emphasize how important color cues are when it comes to making your home look and feel like an Eichler. Mid-century colors tend to combine darker neutral tones with saturated accent colors. This is why oftentimes you’ll see an Eichler with mostly white or tan walls accented by accessories with bold, bright colors such as orange or green. We personally love using blues and greens as accent colors because it alines with the Eichler aesthetic of bringing the outside in. If there’s a pool in the backyard, we’ll draw out color combinations from that and use them on the interior. A good balance between warm and cool colors is extremely vital so play around with some oranges and reds as well. Also, remember to follow the usual interior design color picking tip, also called the 60-30-10 rule. Your room colors should be 60% dominant base color, 30% secondary color, and 10% accent color. Avoid picking more than 3 to 4 colors.
If you’re interested in learning about Eichler front door colors, in particular, we’ll post a blog about this soon.
3. Pattern & Texture in Decor
Identifying mid-century patterns is critical when picking the decor for your home. As the harbinger of the modern design movement, Eichlers loved asymmetrical, abstract patterns. You’ll typically see a bold abstract painting hanging from the wall to give the room a more dynamic feel or a carpet/rug with this type of pattern. Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, and color to create a composition, which meshes well with the whole concept of creating balance with different elements.
If you’re not comfortable with too much spunk, feel free to use rugs and decor with just a solid color. The point is to think outside the box and use your judgment to identify what fits with your mid-century pieces. A common decor piece we tend to see in Eichler is either a sputnik, artichoke, or sunburst-shaped piece. The fine lines and design of these types of pieces give a room more personality, while still upholding an elegant look. Try sprucing up your dull dining room table with an artichoke chandelier or placing a starburst clock right above a wooden table. You’ll be surprised to see the level of dynamism these types of pieces can add to a room, and how well they pair with large furniture.
4. Less is More – Aim for Simplicity
Since there was a lot of thought and strategy that went into coming up with the structure for an Eichler, you want to allow these elements to shine by not cluttering your home with too much decor. The structure was built around the concept of bringing the outside in, so in that sense, less is always more when it comes to designing your Eichler. Keep things simple by adding one or two artistic metal wall plagues or a large graphic oil canvas to your wall. This approach complements the clean, simple lines of the house and produces a calm, peaceful environment for living.
5. Retro Yet Contemporary
Vintage pieces are also commonly seen in Eichlers because it brings back the integrity of the original design. Visit your local flea market to see if you can find some unique timepieces with fine lines and bold graphic fabric that’ll give your Eichler home somewhat of a 50’s feel. One of our clients found an old record player in his garage and used it as a decor piece in the living room. It’s now his favorite piece in the whole house because it adds a whole different feel to the room. Play around with globe lights, groovy wallpaper, walnut cabinetry, and a pegboard backsplash. Be inspired by the past, but also be in the moment.
6. Light Fixtures Matter
Look at any Eichler or midcentury modern home and you will surely see dazzling modern marvels dangling from the ceilings or lighting up sleek side tables. Unique pendant lights and fixtures are not only functional; they are pieces of sculptural art. Mid-century floor lamps and table lamps feature either very straight, geometric lines or round, curved contours. The very contrasting shapes offer a very bold position for lighting in your room and create that level of balance we keep emphasizing. Globe pendant light fixtures are very commonly seen in Eichlers and their design consists of exposed bulbs on straight rods. Although they work well as single pendants, they’re especially head-turning when hung in pairs or multiples at different heights.
If you need any assistance on Interior Design Tips or Inspirations for Eichler Homes or MidCentury Modern Homes, Contact us today.
This month we’ve put together a list of our favorite modern wall clocks — perfect for any MCM, contemporary, minimalist, or Eichler home. The best part, they are all under $150, because you don’t have to spend a fortune on great design.
1. Midcentury Style Star Clock, Wood, and Silver
2. Snajdare Birch Wall Clock
3. Geometric Wall Clock
shop small business – colors can be customized
4. Maxi Colorful Star Clock
5. Concordia round Colorful Ball Clock
6. LeisureMod Metal Pink Star
7. Natural Ribbonwood Clock
also comes in steel and copper
8. Spoke Wall Clock
9. Mr. Clarke Grey Wall Clock
10. Hollywood Urchin