If you’re a fan of modern, minimalist home design, there’s a good chance that you’ll fall in love with Eichler homes. A man ahead of his time, Joseph Eichler transformed what it meant to build modern, affordable housing for middle-class Americans.
But what exactly is an Eichler home? Who was this man, and why are his homes so coveted? First, let’s take a closer look at the life and career of Joseph Eichler.
What Is An Eichler Home?
Eichler homes are prime examples of early California modern architecture, with clean geometric lines, glass walls, A-frame roofs and open living spaces. They epitomize the mid-century modern style and the floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outdoors inside.
Today, Eichler homes can still be found in the Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas. While they were once considered affordable housing, Eichler homes are now prized by architect lovers and regarded as works of art. Unfortunately, these homes don’t stay on the market for long, and they often fetch high prices.
Joseph Eichler Architecture
Joseph Eichler was a real estate developer known for developing subdivisions in the mid-century modern style. He played a pivotal role in bringing modern architecture to everyday families.
The Home That Started It All
Eichler was born and raised in New York City. After earning a business degree at New York University (NYU), he moved to San Francisco to work in the family business. At the time, he lived in the Sidney Bazett House, a Usonian-style home that Frank Lloyd Wright designed.
It was the Bazett House that inspired Eichler to become a real estate developer and to specialize in modern homes.
Eichler Mid Century Modern House Plans
Throughout his career as a real estate developer, Eichler built more than 11,000 homes across communities in northern and southern California. The largest of Eichler’s developments is in San Mateo, called “The Highlands.” These homes were built between 1956 and 1964.
Eventually, other firms would partner with Eichler’s company to develop similar homes, all of which were known as Eichlers.
Between 1949 and 1966, Eichler became known as one of the most influential residential builders of modern houses.
Homes for All
Eichler focused primarily on designing homes for middle-class families. He envisioned inclusive communities with community centers and parks. Eichler also established non-discrimination policies for his homes. Anyone of any religion or race could purchase an Eichler.
He was so passionate about creating inclusive housing that he resigned from the National Association of Home Builders after the organization refused to support a non-discrimination policy.
Eichler didn’t initially set out to become an activist for equal housing opportunities. He just believed that if people were qualified, they should have the right to purchase a home.
Eichler sold homes to many Black families, including Franklin “Frank” Williams, the lead counsel of the NAACP’s West Coast chapter. When other families in the neighborhood would protest the sale of the home to a Black family, Eichler went door to door to confront them. He even offered to buy back their homes.
The Anatomy of An Eichler House
Eichler’s homes are often referred to as “California Modern,” and many of the home’s designs have inspired contemporary home design.
Eichler homes typically feature:
Low-sloping A-framed or flat roofs
Vertical wood siding
His work is heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright as well as Mies van der Rohe. When designing his home, he focused on the concept of bringing the outdoors inside. But at the same time, he understood the value of privacy. As you may notice, many of his homes have very few or no street-facing windows.
The interiors of his homes often included unconventional features, like exposed beams, concrete slab flooring, tongue-and-groove decking used on the ceiling, sliding doors, radiant heating and a second bathroom off the master bedroom.
Many of these features have become mainstays in modern home design.
To bring his visions to life, Eichler worked with some of the leading architects of his time, including:
Jones & Emmons
Anshen & Allen
Oakland & Associates
A. Quincy Jones
Eichler Style Homes For Sale
Want to get your hands on an Eichler home? Many are still standing today, and several have been revamped, including two that are currently for sale.
Spanning 1,908 square feet, this 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom Eichler was built in 1963. The home was designed by A. Quincy Jones and is located in Rancho Del Diablo. The house is on the market for the first time in 45 years.
The home has been expanded since its original construction to include an extra family. However, many of the home’s original features remain, including the mahogany paneling, open air atrium, wood-burning fireplace, globe lights, unpainted ceilings and more.
The kitchen has been updated with stainless steel appliances, a wine fridge, additional cabinetry and more storage space.
The level lot spans 7,500 square feet and is fully fenced in for privacy. The yard features storage and a kennel. There’s also a side yard for enjoyment.
With 1,813 square feet of space, this Eichler home has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with a 6,324 square foot lot. Built in 1962, this home has been remodeled and is located in the prime Panama/Ortega Park location.
The home features a low-gable open atrium and really brings the outdoors inside. Other classic Eichler features include:
Tongue/groove ceiling with globe lighting
The kitchen features beautiful slate floors, custom cabinets, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a wine fridge. The large family room feature a barn door to the laundry room. The master bath has been remodeled as well.
Other updated features include LVT flooring, solar panels, new roof, 200 amp panel, new interior doors and more.
The home’s outdoor space features a koi pond, magnolia tree, waterfall, raised garden beds and a wide range of plants and shrubs.
The property is a stunning example of an Eichler that has been tastefully renovated and maintained.
Situated in Sunnyvale, CA, this 1959 Eichler home has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 2,129 square feet of living space. The original atrium has been converted and with the extended entryway, the room adds 470 square feet to the home.
Many of the home’s original features are still intact, including:
Brick wood burning fireplace
Exposed beam ceilings
The kitchen has been updated with granite countertops and a large island with seating for four people. Stainless steel appliances and a built-in buffet are two other new additions to the home.
The Eichler home on Mackay Drive in Palo Alto features a large lot (more than 8,000 square feet) and a modest floor plan that spans 1,540 square feet.
The home has been tastefully refreshed to include modern conveniences. The kitchen features quartz countertops and new appliances. New flooring has also been installed. The master bedroom features two closets, and the home has several glass doors that open up to the outdoors.
The outdoor space provides plenty of room for entertaining and enjoying nature. The property also features lime trees and shaded areas to sit and relax.
Step into an Eichler home and you may just assume that the home was designed and built yesterday. Although many of his homes have been renovated over the years, the clean lines, exposed beams and glass walls are just as trendy and relevant today as they were in the 1950s and 1960s.
Eichler was a man before his time, and his homes are still beloved by architect enthusiasts. Along with their aesthetic appeal, these homes are also easy to update and maintain that contemporary style that is still so popular today.
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