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.
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.
It’s pretty much established that most of us like a beautiful home. It’s our safe space where we let our hair down and recharge from the madness that is Life. Not all of us can rely on the acute eye of an interior designer and while some of us have a knack for colors and sprucing things up, a few of us are simply hopeless in that department. We are here to offer some guidance to help even the most design-impaired. We want to share with you a secret that cheers up any space and that will leave all your friends in awe about your decorating skills. What is this special secret you might ask? Well, it’s all in the details.
These are little things you can add to your home that will make all the difference. We’re talking about accent lighting, rugs, pillows, and a little bit of paint.
A more fleshed out list of things you can add to your home include:
- Types of lighting
- Wall decoration and art
- Pillows and rugs
- Window decoration (blinds, shades, curtains)
- Furniture details, such as nailhead trim, cushion piping, the shape of the feet, etc.
- Switchplates and plug outlet covers
- Architectural trim
- Handles and knobs
How Do I Start?
We recommend focusing on one room at a time. Take the surroundings in, make an intake of what you have in the room, what you like, and where you’d like improvements. Simply hopping online or going to a store and buying what pleases the eye could possibly leave you overwhelmed and you could lose track of the space and measurements.
A design board is very useful. You can use software, Pinterest, or simply draw your space on a piece of paper. Having a visual cue really helps our brains sort and organize and keep track of the project at hand. It will also help not to end up cluttering a room even more.
One of our stagers, Rochelle Dutsako, recommends considering what style complements your lifestyle. If your job is very stressful you may want to create a peaceful space with calming colors and minimal furniture and accessories; If you have a dull job you may want to create more excitement with color and pattern in your home. If you are not a very good housekeeper, adding tchotchkes to every surface in your house may make dusting an overwhelming chore, and perhaps embracing minimalism may work better for you.
It’s also ok to have fun with it. Mixing in some natural materials can really help balance a room that feels cold and uninviting. Even very modern rooms can benefit from a mix of natural elements.
Lights are details that must never be overlooked. Let’s see a few examples:
- Adjust the height of the light to add value to space.
- Play with different styles of lampshades, or wall-mounted lights.
- Play with Ambient lighting to draw eyes to certain spots.
- Consider smart lighting.
People tend to focus too much on the hardware of their lighting. Don’t get caught up in only the light fixture, pay some time on what type of color the lightbulb should be, i.eHalogen, compact fluorescent, and LED come in a range of warm or cool hues. The type of glow you, just like your wall color should be based on your personal preference and personality.
If your walls are painted in cooler tones, you might want to warm the room up with a warmer glow and you may want a cooler glow to brighten up a darker space.
This is the fun part. You can select a theme or even stage all your souvenirs. This can also fuel your new obsession with antique shopping. Some typical accessories include:
- throw pillows
- small artistic objects
- storage boxes
According to Rochelle, a tray can be a game-changer for your coffee table. “It can bring a few smaller items together and ground the table, a large coffee table book can do the same. Liven up your coffee table with a combination of different heights, shapes, sizes, and materials. You can also add succulents or fresh flowers to your coffee table to add an organic element and if you don’t have a green thumb, there are some really great realistic-looking faux succulents available today.”
She also advises practicing restraint. “Less is more. If you have a collection of a lot of little tchotchkes, consider rotating them, keeping some of them away in a cabinet, and bringing out different ones each season, this way your collection is not overwhelming and you’ll feel excited again about each piece as you display them.”
3. Accent Furniture
“It is better to invest in a few nice pieces that you really like than to fill your room with things just to fill spaces. Take your time in selecting things that bring you joy. Your home should be a reflection of you.”
A colorful accent chair can make a world of difference. We don’t need to follow the old norm of matching furniture sets. We can go bold and mix and match. Have fun with color, patterns, and styles. You also don’t need to buy everything new or secondhand, you can also consider reupholstering some existing furniture.
Rochelle suggests adding a statement piece to command attention. It should be the star of the show but also reflect your style. A statement piece should draw the attention first to itself then the eye should look around to secondary things and the rest of the room should flow with the statement piece and the secondary pieces. “Your fireplace, for example, tiled floor to ceiling with dramatic tile could be a statement piece, your sofa might be the secondary piece in the room that draws attention then the eye flows to the rest of the items in your room that play the supporting roles.”
Color affects our mood. A nice shade of blue can send us into a tranquil state of mind on a lazy Sunday afternoon, while yellow cheers us up and energizes us. Use color to create the mood you wish for each room in your home. Accent walls look stylish and cost less. Wallpaper is also coming back into style. Museums don’t need to be the only place with art walls, group all of your art together or make a family wall. But Rochelle warns that you should also resist the temptation to fill up all the wall space with art. “Provide space for the eye to rest, when a space is too full it can feel too busy and claustrophobic.”
A useful tip that Rochelle offers when selecting paint colors is to try samples on the wall and live with them for a couple of days. “The color might look different in the morning than it does in the evening.” Speaking of paint colors, be aware of the undertones in the colors and make sure they all work together. There are many neutral paint colors to choose from but one neutral may have a blue undertone whereas another one may have a pink undertone. If a room feels cold, consider a paint color that has a little warmth to balance it out. “Paint is an easy thing to change and can make a big difference.”