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Midcentury Mood: The Eichler Homes of California

Midcentury Mood: The Eichler Homes of California

By California.com
September 05, 2020

Known for their Spanish, Cape Cod, and contemporary architecture, California’s unique homes reflect the glitz and glamour of the ultra-wealthy. Among the fascinating architectural designs are Eichler homes, which symbolize the Golden State’s enviable lifestyle.

Eichler homes are named for the 20th-century real estate developer Joseph Eichler, who built mid-century modern houses through Southern and Northern California, creating a modernist wonderland on the West Coast; the homes even became Palm Springs’ signature aesthetic. 

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About Architect Joseph Eichler

Admire the unique beauty of Eichler's mid-century modern homes, which became increasingly popular after World War II.

Born in 1900, New York native Joseph Eichler was a legendary visionary; he was inspired to construct mid-century modern homes after moving to NorCal. Working in collaboration with architect Robert Anshen, Eichler created affordable, mid-century modern residences that quickly became popular among young, middle-class families in need of housing after World War II. 

The first Eichlers were a tract of 50 three-bedroom, one-bath homes, which sold for only $10,000 each. In less than 20 years, Eichler built over 10,000 homes in San Francisco and 900 more in Southern California. Shortly after, most people were living in an Eichler house, which became one of America’s most celebrated tract residences. 

How Eichlers Became So Iconic

Eichler homes are known for their airy, inviting spaces that blend the indoors with the outdoors.

Wondering what made Eichler homes so appealing to everyone? Back then, modern architecture meant elite custom homes and large corporate buildings. Eichler's unique style also combined minimalism with efficiency. Hydronic radiant floor systems, flat or low-slung gabled roofs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and sunny atriums defined the ideal Eichler home. And instead of having a wall separating the kitchen from the living room, Eichler installed a counter as a substitute.

The “California modern” style quickly caught on thanks to the inviting spaces that blended the indoors with the outdoors. Glass facades invited natural light into the homes, and elongated spaces made the houses seem less cluttered. By introducing mid-century modern design to the middle-class in an elegant, affordable way, Eichler became a revolutionary in the architectural world.

Where to Find Eichler Homes in California

Savor the spectacular interiors of an Eichler home, and get inspired to recreate this design in your own home.

Eichler homes are found all over California. Renowned for its iconic Eichler-style houses, Palm Springs is a wonderful getaway destination, especially if you’re a mid-century modern architecture enthusiast. And when cruising around Sacramento, you may notice the mid-century neighborhood South Land Park Hills, which boasts 62 EichlersGranada Hills’ historic Balboa Highlands contains over 100 of these homes, too.

You can also find Eichlers in Marin, Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara Counties. To better understand why the houses are iconic, here are a few exemplary Eichler homes showcasing the style’s distinctive features.

Eichler Homes in the Bay Area

This Eichler home is astoundingly stunning and will leave you breathless. Photo courtesy of Mid-Century Home.

Location: Sunnyvale

Status: Off-market

The Twin Gable House is one of the most astounding Eichler homes in Santa Clara County. Thoroughly renovated by its owners, Isabelle Olson and Matthaeus Krenn, the house is painted blanched ivory. As you walk in, the front door guides you to the breathtaking atrium accented by lush plants.

Almost every room has access to the courtyard, allowing you to enjoy the minimalist landscape. The white-painted cabinets and Carrara marble countertops complement the remainder of the decor. The luminous skylight is the highlight of the dining area, while the outdoor pool is the icing on the cake.

Wind down on this gorgeous backyard patio after a busy day, and feel the sun kiss your skin as you sip iced tea. Photo courtesy of Realtor.

Location: 3512 Ross Road, Palo Alto

Status: Off-market

Built over half a century ago, this Eichler house has been virtually untouched since it was built. The property is abundant with quintessential mid-century modern aesthetics.

Due to its almost perfect preservation, this Joseph Eichler home is extraordinary. The house consists of original redwood beams, walls of glass, mahogany, slab floors, and concrete blocks. This mid-century gem also has an expansive outdoor area, which includes a patio and a picturesque garden—just what everyone needs for a cozy evening under the stars.      

Imagine spending your evenings under the starry night sky in this relaxing, Eichler-influenced backyard. Photo courtesy of Realtor.

Location: 260 Bliss Court, Walnut Creek

Status: Off-market

Already a standout with its dramatic space-age exterior, this Claude Oakland-designed Model 14 Eichler is modeled after a traditional thatched English cottage. Lofty skylights framed by a wood-paneled ceiling cover the roomy Eichler atrium. With colorful accents around the house, this Eichler has numerous mid-century details that make it distinct—a brick fireplace, a vaulted ceiling, and quintessential floor-to-ceiling windows.

Modern elements of the kitchen include walnut-paneled cabinetry, quartz countertops, a turquoise tile backsplash, and a large center island with seating. The private backyard has a breathtaking landscape and multiple gathering spaces connected by pathways. The cherry on top? Step out to the backyard to bathe in a solar-heated pool and unwind in an opulent spa.

Location: 91 Los Cerros Place, Walnut Creek

Status: Off-market

In the eastern region of the San Francisco Bay Area, you can discover a majestic  Eichler home. This Walnut Creek mid-century house bears a resemblance to a Zen retreat, featuring lush landscaping, a spacious Japanese-style backyard, and floor-to-ceiling windows merging the indoors and outdoors. The second you set foot in this house, tranquility descends upon you.

The master bedroom's glass facade invites the awe-inspiring backyard inside, making it feel as if you’re sleeping outdoors. Having been well-preserved since its existence, this Eichler house has only a few additions, including new tile and bamboo flooring. In harmony with the design, the home has a meditation room complete with a cathedral-type ceiling. The soaring glass walls of this Eichler home will leave you feeling calm and peaceful.

Ventura County Eichlers

The green grass, bright blue sky, and vibrant yellow doors contrast beautifully against the white walls of this Eichler. Photo courtesy of Realtor.

Location: 1131 Hendrix Avenue, Thousand Oaks

Status: Off-market

Striking yellow double-doors greet you at the Thousand Oaks Eichler home, which also features a low-slung roof, a vaulted ceiling, and terrazzo tiles. Double-vessel sinks and unconventional mirrors are just a few of the unique things you’ll find in the bathrooms. All backrooms have access to the outdoor area, which features a sizable pool. The house's bold multicolored accents make this a breathtaking Joseph Eichler home.

Eichler Homes in Orange County 

Live it up by taking a dip in an Eichler-inspired pool, and spend the day doing whatever floats your boat.

Location: 5101 East Elsinore Avenue, Orange

Status: Off-market

This mid-century house boasts the quintessential Eichler design. A faint A-shaped roof greets you at the door. Luxurious and chic, the central atrium of the house is surrounded by sliding glass doors that lead to multiple rooms.

Throughout the space, you can see details of Eichler-style home designs—redwood cabinets, beamed ceilings, quartz counters, and cobblestone elements. What also makes this an outstanding Eichler home is the Pebble Tec pool decorated with tower fountains and patios, perfect for family gatherings. The quality and artistry of the house are remarkable.

Eichlers in Palm Springs

Admire the stunning beauty of the trademark Eichler atrium while enjoying the rays of the sun. Photo courtesy of Kud Properties.

Location: 426 East Sonora Road, Palm Springs

Status: Off-market

The Desert Eichler Two is an original that’s been modernized for today’s standard of living. The trademark Eichler atrium is inspired by a tropical theme. The house is styled in colorful mid-century furnishings and boasts a fantastic mountain view that’s visible from multiple viewpoints in the home.

Walnut wood dominates the door and cabinetry, enriching the house with a vintage tone. While stepping out to the backyard, the rectangle pool, swim ledge, and raised spa are eye-catching. An indoor-outdoor paradise, the Desert Eichler Two is a prime example of excellent mid-century architecture.

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