About Us



Hi. We’re Karen and John and we own a mid-century modern home in Walnut Creek, CA, built by developer Joseph Eichler. For our day jobs, we both work in Product Management at Bay Area start-ups. For fun, we enjoy home DIY and interior design projects, in addition to being professional photographers and raising our two young boys.

If you are into midcentury modern, Eichlers, home renovation, home restoration, vintage furniture, and diy rehab projects, then join us here for our chronicles rehabbing a 1950s home. We have quite a long list of projects planned, so we should be here awhile!

Eichler Experiences

Some of our own projects and some other great Eichler experiences to share.



We wanted to accomplish a number of things with this project that spanned several weeks:

  • Create more living room space
  • Remove the weird walk-in closet entrance in our Master Bedroom
  • Remove the weird angled-wall in the living room
  • Create a new media wall with a flush mount TV
  • Bring back some wood paneling as an accent wall
  • Put the original 2 sections of glass walls back in where they were filled in with studs and drywall.

The Very Beginning of Our Eichler Kitchen and Living Room Remodel

Below is a shot of the room when the kitchen took up most of the area. We miss the that pine ;)




Demo of Wall #1


Demo of Wall #2 – This was inside the old walk-in closet


Panoramic View of Kitchen > Living Room > Bedroom (L to R)

Newly Framed wall that will serve as back of new closet and TV mount.


You can see the original footprint of the old walk-in closet.

New flooring going in.

Wall with drywall up on the closet side, TV mounted, and flooring in.

Testing 4 types of wood paneling with 3 types of stain.

Framing for the second wall being assembled so the TV is flush with the wall.

Not quite done for the Super Bowl, but getting there!


Bedroom Closet Rebuild

On the Bedroom side, we framed out a new wall opening for sliding doors, and finished skim coating the drywall. A box was made to house A/V components. (Hindsight – the AV box top should’ve been a flip up bench seat)

Reinstalled the California Closets that used to be in the walk-in closet.

Wood Paneling the Media Wall

We went to MacBeath Lumber to buy a half dozen types of sample sheets of paneling. The prefinished options didn’t quite suit our liking, so we opted for the unfinished 1/8″ Walnut panels.



Two sets of wall studs spaced by a 2×4 created the perfect depth needed for the television and wallmount bracket.

2015-03-08 17.47.50

After 2 coats of oil.

2015-03-08 17.47.26


Exterior Wall Demolition

2015-03-07 10.36.48 HDR

2015-03-07 10.37.36

2015-03-07 10.38.43


Original picture from our neighbor’s house to compare:

2015-03-07 11.42.02 HDR

2015-03-07 11.52.37

2015-03-07 14.11.04

2015-03-07 17.03.57

2015-03-13 08.55.25



Time crunch was upon us before leaving for a trip, so we allowed Dan’s Glass to prep the opening and install the glass. The farmed out the prep work, who finished in half day adding a new sill, and installing the interior pre-primed wood stops. This ran us about $1,500.

2015-03-18 07.39.49

Glass intalled by Dan’s Glass

Loft Bed for Kids

Loft Bed for Kids

Our boys share a bedroom and since we recently relocated most of the toys from the family room to their room, it had become a constant disaster zone. We considered bunk beds, but thought a built-in loft would be a good way to gain vertical living space that included both sleeping and play areas. Here is how we constructed it:20150307-105821

The loft bed is supported at the long ends by two 2×4’s, and a 2×2 against the back wall into studs. A 2×6 spans the outside edge that is screwed into the ends of the 2×4’s. A 2×2 rail is screwed into the inside of the 2×6 to mount the 2×2 ribs. 1/4″ wood paneling went on top of the ribs to finish the platform. Finally, a 2×8 was sistered to the outside 2×6 to give it additional support.

kids-loft-bed-platformWe had almost a 12 foot span to support, and by deck building rules, twin 2×12’s can support a 12′ span, so was comfortable with just the 2×6 and 2×8 sistered beam, as this is hardly a deck. With the whole family on the loft, there is no flex.

2014-12-29 08.21.35

We repurposed an Ikea above-fridge cabinet from our kitchen renovation (white) as one of the storage units on the floor, and a Land of Nod book case, which lives underneath the table top, an Ikea wall panel. Ikea RIBBA picture frame ledges double as a Hot Wheels track and book storage. It makes cleaning up cars more fun! ;)


We stained the side piece, to give it a finished look, with some walnut stain from our wood panel media wall project.




The SF Giants bobbleheads now have a permanent home!


Additional accessories include under-loft LED lighting from Ikea, some wall baskets, coat hooks, and bedside LED reading lamps. An indoor-outdoor rug provides a cozy place to play on one end of the loft. The rug is so durable, it can even be rinsed with a garden hose!



Modern Kids Loft Bed

We would’ve liked to have raised the loft about 10″ higher, but the window was in the way. Overall, it turned out great and makes the room much more enjoyable.

The project came out costing about $150 for lumber and the kids absolutely love it!

Ribba Picture Ledges from Ikea
Indoor Outdoor Rug from Land of Nod
Hanging Wire Shelf from Homegoods
Pencil Bins from Ikea


Eichler Kitchen Remodel – The Final Reveal

Eichler Kitchen Remodel – The Final Reveal

After seven long months, we are beyond excited and relieved that our DIY Kitchen Renovation Project is finally complete!

Planning started officially in May (and pretty much the first year we lived in the house), but the chaos that consumed our lives really began on Demolition Day. Some how, some way (through a lot of hard work, tears, takeout, stress and support/help from family and friends), we managed to live in our house with two kids, while it underwent a massive transformation, mostly done by ourselves.

Here are some of the “Before” shots; our house had already been significantly altered away from original Eichler style and features, so we knew there were great original “bones” to get back to…. through a LOT of undoing and careful planning.

Our Old Kitchen before the Eichler Kitchen Remodel:



After the Eichler Kitchen Remodel

Our end goal: to design and rebuild a new, modern kitchen and living space (inspired by mid-century modern aesthetic), reworking the layout (which had already been half-opened up) so that we would have a true open concept floor plan. We really wanted to bring back some of the original features and characteristics of Eichler homes, many of which had been removed or hidden by previous owners (for example, original glass transom/windows covered in sheet rock and vinyl grid doors instead of aluminum framed sliding doors). We were also on a limited budget, so planned to tackle a majority of the work ourselves, while spending larger parts of the budgets on feature items such as the tiled backsplash, Bluestar Range, custom walnut doors for Ikea Cabinets, and lighting, while saving money on labor costs by completing nearly all the work ourselves.

And here it is… what used to be the old dining room is now a gallery kitchen with large island. The old, traditional (non-Eichler) lighting and fans have been removed and replaced with globe and modern lighting; the back (formerly vinyl) sliding door replaced with an aluminum version and clear glass transom, to match the original ones that would have been part of the house before.





Steps of Our Eichler Kitchen Remodel

Here were the major phases and materials we used for the final design:

  1. Demolition
  2. Installation of VCT flooring
  3. Ikea Cabinet installation with Semihandmade Doors
  4. DIY concrete counters
  5. Bluestar Gas Range
  6. Vent Hood Installation
  7. Fireclay Diamond Tile Installation
  8. Miseno Sink from Build.com and Grohe Faucet (ebay find)
  9. LED toe-kick lighting
  10. Tom Dixon Beat Lights from YLighting.com
  11. Aluminum Milgard Sliding door and Transom replacement – THANK YOU to the wonderful Concord Eichler owner who gave us the door for free!
  12. Wine Fridge – Labor day weekend score at Home Depot
  13. Furniture: Fiberglass Shell Counter Stools (25″) from Modernica


Q & A of the Remodel

What was the hardest part(s) of the project? There were many, but the first that come to mind:

1. Demolition and cleanup

2. Prepping the concrete floor slab. We removed the porcelain tile, then we needed to get the surface back to a level, smooth state, in order to install the VCT. There was a ton of bits of crumbly concrete and leftover mortar that had to be grinded down. That was a project-low.

3. Making our own concrete counters. A ton of trial and error; getting the mix just right, waiting for it to set (days), then seeing if the surface was counter like and not chunky-like (the first 3 tries were the latter). Then we had to build 7 more slabs.

4. Living in a house that is in complete renovation mode. Dust, debris, no working kitchen, small children. That was not fun. We deliberately planned to start the project right before the summer, for milder weather and using the BBQ for cooking. the latter didn’t really happen; instead replaced with takeout and a lot of meals hosted by kind friends and family.


HUGE thank you to our wonderful family and friends who helped us out mixing concrete, hauling, delivering, lifting, and sweating with us; and for the hours of babysitting our kids for us while we tried to complete a project here or a project there. We can’t wait to repay you for your kindness with many meals and cocktails in our new kitchen!

karen-final-eichler-kitchenTill the next big project at Destination Eichler… here’s to a great 2015!

-Karen & John





Tom Dixon Lighting

Tom Dixon Lighting



Beat Wide White

Inspired by the sculptural simplicity of brass cooking pots and traditional water vessels on the subcontinent. This pendant light is spun and hand-beaten by renowned skilled craftsmen of Moradabad in Northern India. Made from brass with a white lacquer exterior.
What’s cool about it, aside from its flashy underside finish, is that the hand-hammered bell is perfectly smooth on the top. The white finish to the bell provided an unobtrusive pendant for the room with just a peek of flare.




Eichler Kitchen Remodel: DIY Concrete Countertops

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: DIY Concrete Countertops



Waterfall edge concrete countertop using a mitered side piece.

After reading many blogs and watching tons of videos, I wanted to dive into this to expect a learning curve. I knew concrete was relatively straightforward, but also expected that doing it well would take some learning and practice.

DIY Concrete Countertops: HACK Hypothesis

(Conclusions revisited at the end):

  1. Most of the DIY videos out there utilize the technique of forming the molds using melamine sheets. A newer (but not new) technique is foam rails instead of the melamine/particle board, so I decided to try it out as it looked easier.
  2. Polishing can be avoided entirely by using the glossy polycarbonate casting base and glossy form tape. Typically, the molds are melamine, which leaves a rough finish, so polishing is required. The thought of no messy polishing came to mind, so I was motivated to try a glossy base for my form.

DIY Concrete Countertop Supply List:

  • $145 Cheng Pro-Form Mold Making System 2.5″- I had recently junked my table saw, and found it inconvenient to buy many sheets of 4’x8′ melamine sheets for the mold, so I thought I’d avoid all that cutting and use the foam rails. While the $145 price seemed a bit steep for a bunch of foam rails, some tape, and vinyl, it was actually all worth it for the 7 uniquely sized slabs I had to form. I tried to source foam rails elsewhere, but failed.
  • $300 Concrete mixer from Lowes – I thought about renting, but due to the amount and size of the slabs I was making, buying was in my best interest. It took 3 hrs to assemble, and it works really well. I’ve rented mixers in the past from The Home Depot, and was unimpressed… the motors were really worn out, gears slipped, and I told myself I’d never do that again.
  • $65 Polycarbonate 4’x8′ sheet from Tap Plastic to use as a casting base. In the end I went through 3 sheets.
  • $66 Cheng Glossy Form Tape 2.5″ – expensive tape to make shiny edges
  • $32.50 Cheng faucet knockout for form
  • $25 Lowes foam insulation board to cut out the sink knockout
  • Silicone caulk
  • Masking tape
  • $150 Hydraulic table on wheels from Harbor Freight – for move the slabs from the casting table to the kitchen. Each slab was about 320-420 lbs.
  • $25 Cheng Acrylic Slurry – for patching holes and blending seams.
  • $165 Hardin VPS5 wet polisher from Amazon
  • $29 Cheng Sealer
  • $23.50 Cheng Finishing Wax
  • Black edging for the plywood between the countertop and the cabinets
  • Jigsaw, disc sander for cutting out sink knockout
  • Metal screen and rebar
  • Concrete mixing tub, trowel, shovel
  • Sakrete 5000 concrete – 24+ bags

Concrete Countertop Mold

We constructed the mold using the Cheng foam rails. You setup the rails, tape the vinyl liner, caulk the seams, and pour. We used a glossy polycarbonate casting base to leave a super glossy finish.

Cheng foam forming kit

We tried the Cheng additive to reduce the setting time, reduce the amount of water required (for strength) and supposedly the chemicals also make it stronger, but later own after numerous failed attempts, just used the straight Sakrete concrete with water, which seemed to work just fine.

Cheng concrete counter additive

Lowes concrete mixer

Covered the slab in plastic to retain the moisture and heat. The first 48hrs, noted by a pro fabricator, is the most important time in the curing process.

Failed attempt. Did I mention I was a complete hack??

Our first attempt came out a complete failure, as the mixture was too dry. By the third try, we found the right consistency.

Successful pair of slabs with a glossy finish and almost no voids.

These things are pretty darn heavy, so we bought a hydraulic lift to help move slabs from the backyard to the kitchen. (Miles is preparing his entrance moves.)

With the plywood in place, we installed our first slab.

With this installation, we went straight from mold to counter. (The island pieces didn’t work out as easy as this.)

One of seven slabs with a sink and faucet knockout.

Added some wire mesh and rebar along the delicate sides.

Colleen, a pastry chef, icing a slab

Waterfall Edge Concrete Countertop

We loved the look of the waterfall edge for our concrete countertops, but knew I’d have to do it in two pieces rather than attempt a single piece. A single piece would’ve been attainable with a pour in place or GFRC, but neither of those options seemed viable at the time. We ended up doing a 2-piece corner using a mitered joint, then filling in the seam with a slurry mix. You can see in the photo above the 45 degree end piece overhanging the island.

The two ways to do the waterfall joints:

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 10.05.38 PM

Photo by: www.lex-kitchen.com

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 10.02.43 PM

Photo by Luke Works Baltimore, MD www.lukeworks.com

The island slabs were much more complicated for various reasons: They were larger, required a mitered edge for the waterfall sides, and had a sink in between slabs. We calculated the larger possible slab we could cast on our 4’x8′ sheet of melamine, and casted 3 pieces for the surface that, unfortunately, had to split the sink in half.

There were seams, that we could have slurried over, but we felt that we’d leave the seams that would add that artisanal feel to the countertop.

We also added black vinyl edging to the plywood edge just below the concrete to cover up the raw wood and add a shadow effect.

There were little holes from air bubbles that needed to be filled with a concrete slurry, and after we applied that, we needed to wet polish. There was a square outline indented in the surface from the two previous casts of smaller pieces. The silicone residue left from the previous cast was not visible to the eye, but the concrete was extremely sensitive and picked every little thing up.

The Cheng slurry coat was applied to fill the holes.

We made the mistake of prematurely installing the countertops before they were polished, but we didn’t think we would end up needing to polish. The seams and sink were filled with silicone before the wet polishing routine which we ended up doing a couple times. This created a huge mess, but was better than moving all the slabs back outside.

I bought a wet polisher from Amazon for $165 and started the polishing process.


Revisiting our Hack Hypothesis:

1. The foam system was simple and easy, but there were drawbacks:

  • The rails warp after the first use from either the tape, weather, concrete, moisture, etc. But I reused them several times.
  • It’s hard to screed the cement compared to a wooden rail, as they are delicate, and don’t allow a 2×4 to slide across the tops easily.
  • They are hard to cut accurately on a table saw. I had several slabs that required 45 degree miter joints, so the rails needed to be trimmed at 45 degree angles. Not sure they the Cheng rails ship w/ a 40 degree angle, but it was quite the pain to rip off 5 degrees.
  • They are delicate, so removing them caused them to break easily, so I learned to remove them from the surface tape very gently.
  • It was easy to not form a perfectly straight edge, so I had several slabs with curved edges (amateur move since I refused to use a template)

2. Casting on the glossy poly sheet proved to produce an awesome finish, but the reality is you have to still wet polish. No polishing will ever produce the same gloss, but it’ll still look nice. Here’s what I learned:

  • If you have to apply slurry, you have to wet polish. The slurry creates a dull film across the surface that I tried sponging off, dry polishing off, and scraping off… but it doesn’t matter. Once that stuff dries, you need to wet grind it off.
  • The glossy casted surface might look perfect with no voids or holes, but once you start polishing, you’ll notice that you uncover many little voids that will need to be filled. It’s sort of a false sense of perfection.
  • The glossy surface is actually coated with a light later of white cloudy concrete chemical, so if you want a richer color to be your final finish, you will need to polish it off.
  • You CAN avoid the wet polish, but with the caveat that the finish will be lighter than desirable, and if you did have a lot of voids, you would have to ditch the gloss and start polishing. I did try two of my first slabs going straight from form to counter to sealer and wax, and it does look fine, but will look better if I had spent another day polishing, slurrying, polishing, then sealing and waxing. The two smaller slabs on each side of the stove had no polishing and they look fine, but I would believe that any experienced concrete countertop guy would spot that it wasn’t quite finished.
  • The surface of the casting surface is SUPER important to keep flat; every tiny little imperfection on the casting surface is picked up during the casting process. The polycarbonate sheet had little dips that you couldn’t see, which made polishing difficult. Messy caulk smears, and residue from previous castings created marks on the concrete that I spent extra time wet polishing off.

Mistakes I wouldn’t want anyone else to make:

  • Complete your slabs outside the house before moving them in. I thought I could move them in and make sure it all fit before the slurry and polish, but wet polishing inside the house really sucks.
  • Not used a template – I didn’t have materials to make one, so I just used measurements. I wasn’t too far off, but it makes the mold making process 3 times longer, and less accurate.
  • Wasted my time with trying to avoid polishing. Although you can theoretically avoid polishing, the finish isn’t what you would expect. It was costly, and in the end, I still had to buy a polisher.
  • I made a mistake with the mitered edge on one of the pieces, where I measured the mold size to the outter edge instead of the inner edge of the final countertop. Because you do the mold and everything is upside down, and the fact that I didn’t use a template, I had to recast a very large and intricate sink piece with a mitered edge TWICE.
  • I made multiple casting on the same sheet of polycarbonate – you should really be using a fresh piece each time to avoid picking up imperfections caused by each casting process.

If I was to do it all over again, I would consider GFRC and a foam core. Five of the 7 slabs were each 320-425 lbs, and for the 2.5″ thickness required much more concrete [in theory] than with a GFRC process, and would be just as strong, if not stronger. The learning curve and tools required require additional cost and ramp up time, but I would believe that the front-loaded investment would payoff in the end. If you were doing a 1.5″ slab, I’d say just cast it conventionally, but for a 2.5″ slab, it just requires more concrete, and yields a slab that most DIY hackers would want to avoid… unless you have a bunch of strong hands readily available ;)

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: LED Toe Kick Lighting

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: LED Toe Kick Lighting

Freshly placed waterfall slab

LED Toe Kick Panel Lighting – Controlled by motion sensor and photocell for daylight sensing.



I installed the low-voltage self-adhesive LED strip lights $15 at Amazon, and connected the AC adapter to get it all installed a tested. I then spliced into the AC adapter to add the motion detector and daylight sensor (Velleman PIR415U), so that it only activates when it gets dark in the room. I mounted the motion detector in the toe kicks and the room is lighted as I enter enough to walk into the kitchen at night for a nightcap.

It required a couple wiring attempts before I got it to work just right, and was relieved to know that the AC adapter and sensor switch did a good job of shutting off when detecting a short circuit ;) The next step will be to light the entire island and add above cabinet lighting.

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: Fireclay Tile Backsplash

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: Fireclay Tile Backsplash



About Fireclay Tile

Fireclay Tile was wonderful to work with. The California-based ceramics company has made a name for itself in the sustainable handmade category. Each batch is made to order and took us about 4-5 weeks to receive our tile.

We chose the Fireclay Escher Diamond pattern in a Lagoon color on a white ceramic tile base. We ordered it on sheets, where the tiles were taped with clear poly (plastic) sheets to the faces of the tile. In previous experiences with mosaic tiles, there were mesh-backed, as well as paper facing, but this was the first time we used the poly-faced sheets. After the tiles were dry, we peeled off the poly sheets, grouted, and fit in final missing pieces.

Installing Fireclay Mosaic Tiles

We must admit, it was the more messy of installations, as it wasn’t perfectly square sheets of tile as we were used to. We needed to layout all the tiles first on the ground to find the optimal configuration to fit the wall, and precut the tiles to waste the least amount of tile.

Overall, we thought it turned out great and would love to include Fireclay in upcoming projects.








Eichler Kitchen Remodel: VCT Flooring

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: VCT Flooring

Subfloor patching using some Quikrete cement to patch holes and small dips.

Karen mudding up the imperfections in the concrete slab


Essential floor chisel tool

We found a cool little bit that attaches to a reciprocating saw to help scrape off existing thinset from the old ceramic tile.

We then applied the VCT adhesive and waited for it to get to that tacky condition.

Once it’s clear, you know it’s ready.

The entire remodel was quite challenging with two kids always running around. Just before we started, our son ran through the room – DOH!

We then installed the floor, which was pretty simple. We chalked perpendicular lines to make sure it was square with the room and just went for it, starting from the middle of the room.

Karen installed ceremonious last piece.

Next, we sealed it with a few coats.






Eichler Kitchen Remodel: Vent Hood Installation

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: Vent Hood Installation

We installed a Zepher chimney vent hood (from Build.com) on the exterior wall. The electrical was run up with the plumbing so the installation was straightforward, but it was a tight squeeze for the vent. I notched out some drywall to mount some plywood to mount the blower.

Vent assembly with elbow to exterior wall

I taped the joints and hooked up the wiring.

Onto the chimney…

The chimney trim, included w/ the vent kit, needed to be trimmed at an angle to meet flush with the vaulted ceiling. I taped the cut line, and cut it with an angle grinder with a circular cutting disc.

A flapper vent was installed on the exterior and Voila – vent installed.



Eichler Kitchen Remodel: Semihandmade Doors and Paneling for Ikea Cabinets

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: Semihandmade Doors and Paneling for Ikea Cabinets

We were so happy to work with Semihandmade, who make aftermarket doors and panels for Ikea cabinets. You send them the 3D sketch from the Ikea software and they manufacture perfectly fitted doors and panels for the project.  We had a slight discoloration on one of the panels, but they quickly turned around a replacement, free of charge. We chose the flat-sawn walnut option, which we also saw in one of the San Mateo homes from the Home Tour.


SemiHandmade doors and trim panel for Ikea island cabinets.

SemiHandmade doors and trim panels for the Ikea cabinets.


San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour: Iconic Home

San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour: Iconic Home

We’re so painfully behind on posts due to the kitchen/house renovation [consuming our lives].

Getting caught up on some of our favorite photos from the San Mateo Eichler Tour. This house was a favorite, with many iconic original furniture pieces and decor, and a welcoming modern outdoor space, seen from the back window wall of the house.

San Mateo Eichler

Eames Fiberglass Chairs

Modern concrete bench with Heath Ceramic Tile

Mini Outdoor Studio

EIchler Modern Landscaping


San Mateo Eichler Tour: Renovated Classic

San Mateo Eichler Tour: Renovated Classic

San Mateo Eichler

San Mateo Eichler 20140503-IMG_0457

20140503-IMG_0452 20140503-IMG_0448


San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour: Exterior and Landscape Ideas

San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour: Exterior and Landscape Ideas

We were pressed for time to get back to the East Bay (to start the demo of our kitchen!), so took a few more shots of exteriors before we headed back home.

So many beautifully restored Eichler exteriors, updated with original paint colors and trim, along with gardens featuring drought-resistant landscaping. It was a day full of design inspiration and homage to a historical Eichler community.

Eichler Exterior 20140503-IMG_0440

Eichler Exterior

Eichler Landscaping



Joseph Eichler

Joseph Eichler

“Ike-ler? Itch-ler?” Growing up in the Concord/Walnut Creek area, I always was subconsciously aware of an “Eichler home,” especially a small neighborhood off of Cowell Road in Concord. I remember driving to my sister’s swim practice at Cowell pool, looking at houses with car ports and flat roofs; houses that were distinctly different than the 1970s rancher I grew up in.

It was not until a few years ago that we actually saw the inside of an Eichler home. We fell in love with the walls (and walls) of glass windows, making the house feel expansive. We visited an atrium model, with the house built around a center courtyard. It was like nothing we had seen in other homes in our area. The home maintained classic modern lines and its original layout matched the (now popular) concept of open floor plan living.

I started researching more about the homes and discovered the history of Joseph Eichler, the builder of these homes and neighborhoods. He was not an architect, but a merchant builder who partnered with prestigious architects of the time to design and build modern homes for the “average” American family. From the 1950s to 1970s, Eichler developed tracts of housing developments in Northern California (Concord, Walnut Creek, San Rafael, San Mateo, San Francisco, San Jose, Castro Valley and Palo Alto) and Southern California.

Our model is a 1226 atrium model, designed by architect A. Quincy Jones and Fredick Emmons as part of Eichler’s Rancho San Miguel neighborhood, located in Walnut Creek, CA. Our home had already been updated over the years, but we hope to restore some of the mid-century modern aesthetics, while also making it a modern, comfortable home for our young family.

Here’s just the beginning of what’s bound to be a tireless (tiring?) and exciting journey!

Love this original 1226 floorplan, found on an Eichler Blog that documents a remodel of our same model.

A. Quincy Jones floor-plan-1224


Eichler Kitchen Renovation: Ikea Cabinet Assembly

Eichler Kitchen Renovation: Ikea Cabinet Assembly

Thanks to help from my brother, we got over the fear of assembling the gigantic mound of Ikea cabinets awaiting us in the garage. He helped lay out the assembly line for the first few cabinet bases, showing where to put the screws and parts. Once I assembled a few, working through the rest were easier to assemble, if you laid everything out the same way each time. I constructed about 10 in the first weekend.


2014-06-02 21.37.27

Eichler Kitchen Renovation - Ikea Cabinets

A few days later, our much-anticipated new 6-burner BlueStar range arrived. Thank you to our friends Stevie and Debra for waiting for the delivery for us in the middle of a work day!

Eichler Kitchen Ikea Cabinets

We placed all the base cabinets where the island will be, and the additional wall of cabinets along the far wall. John mounted 2 x 4 platform bases to underneath the cabinets for extra support. Those Ikea plastic legs are supposed to hold up, but we wanted to ensure maximum support for what will be our concrete countertops.

Another few weeks pass as we assemble all the upper cabinets, mount them, and then secure all the cabinets in place. Also thrown in there at some point (it’s all a blur), John installed the plywood counter base, which will support the concrete, and so that we would have a working sink and dishwasher again, installed the sink and faucet (which we will have to re-install when we put the counters in).

We also started to hang our coveted Semihandmade cabinet doors, made from Flatsawn Walnut veneer.

Eichler Kitchen Renovation: Planning Stages

Eichler Kitchen Renovation: Planning Stages

Kitchen Planning

The kitchen planning project has had (and will continue to have) several stages, of which we are just in the early phases. I have a feeling this renovation will becomeThe “massive project we will always remember, but be so happy it’s done.”

First, is the dreamy stage, and mass accumulation of Pinteresting ideas andHouzz-worthy photos, saving brochures (the Miele and LBL ones are just so pretty to look at), and tearing, saving, and posting beautiful kitchen remodels articles from the likes of Dwell, AD, Interior Design (Eichler cover feature!) and Atomic Ranch.

Next phase included feeling overwhelmed by all the aforementioned pretty photos, ideas, and possibilities.How big should the island be? What if it is too big? What type of floor? We know nothing about appliances! Wood or white cabinets?

And then realization steps in: How much is this going to cost?!

So this past weekend, we decided to bite the bullet and make the trip to Ikea to really get the planning underway. Big win; we decided to go on a Friday night after work when Ikea was relatively empty and the Kitchen planning Sales people were just sitting around chatting. This trip was just to get confirmation of what cabinets we wanted to go with and how the sizing works. We survived the trip (with two kids in tow – we should have fed them first not last, but I was so ready to get to the kitchens that I made the poor choice to feed later). We will soon go back to make the final purchases and take advantage of their big Kitchen Sale. Next time, I’ll stick with Friday night, sans kiddos.

So with the help of our lovely architect BFF Gabs, we spent the following night sketching out where each cabinet would go, defining the work spaces, measuring out and marking with painters tape all the major elements (stove goes here, sink goes there) and detailing out dimensions and cabinet purchasing list with Ikea’s [great, but quirky/buggy] Kitchen Planner Tool.

So here’s a rough idea of the new design:

Kitchen Plans

And inspired by the famous Faith’s Kitchen Remodel on the Kitchn (which I consider a bookmark/must-read for any kitchen renovation, detailing the entire process, including pricing) we are inspired to see what some custom doors from Semihandmadedoors will cost us. I am utterly wowed by their beautifully crafted wood veneer doors, designed specifically for Ikea cabinetry.

Here’s how Faith’s beautiful kitchen turned out:

The Kitchn - Faith's Kitchen Remodel

And another kitchen renovation inspiration is Stacey’s masterpiece at another favorite blog, The Goode House:

The Goode House

Lastly, here is my new love, A Bluestar Range in orange! (Ballard Residence from Houzz):

Bluestar 36" Range - Orange

So next steps include:

  • Await quote on doors and panels (fingers crossed)
  • Order some VCT/Linoleum samples (in cool white)
  • Practice some concrete projects (John, that’s for you)
  • Place IKEA order before sale ends (4/27)
  • Order appliances (Range, Sink, Faucet, and Wine Fridge)
  • Order doors (if we can afford them)
  • Plan demo/build phases (aka How Long Can We Live Without a Kitchen)
Eichler Kitchen Renovation: Demolition

Eichler Kitchen Renovation: Demolition

The lovely kitchen to be demo’d.

We are finally nearing the end phases of our very own Eichler Renovation, which started officially in May.

Months of planning, budgeting, and weekend warrior DIY have been very exhausting (did I say exhausting?!), but in that DIY mentality (slightly crazy), has been incredibly rewarding and satisfying.

We’ll start to post backwards a bit to get up to speed on all the phases of the project, and soon, be able to show off the Final Reveal!

Removal of all the old cabinetry:

Eichler Kitchen Renovation

Here’s John post Hulk Smash Tile and granite Demo:

EIchler Kitchen Renovation DIY

There were definitely better ways to demo the tile, but keeping our costs low, we decided to use the simple sledgehammer instead of what we should’ve used: The Bosch demolition chisel

2014-05-03 18.45.22

Tried various ways using a jack to carefully remove the granite countertops, but in the end, it was a sledgehammer that prevailed. There was too much adhesive in the way of a clean removal.

Eichler Kitchen Renovation

2014-05-21 08.09.51 HDR

We rented the floor buffer from Home Depot for $120 for 4 hours to scrape off the tile mortar – the worst part about this whole project.

Eichler Kitchen Remodel

Grinding bolts and nails from the cement.


But the place became extremely dusty. Visibility while using the floor sander was about 2 feet within about 15 seconds of using it.

EIchler Kitchen Remodel

Tip: Use ZipWalls or simply get some Husky thin plastic sheeting in a roll and tape it up to seal off the roof. We rented the buffer at 8pm for a 4 hour slot, but definitely worked about 7 hours ’til 3am, then returned it at 8am to meet the 4 hour window.

San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour

San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour


To benefit the Highlands Elementary School PTA, 10 families are opening the doors of their homes to the general public. These houses look great from the street, but the real magic is past the front door and under the beams. Panes of glass and architect designed spaces bring the outside in and the inside out, a feel and a look that defines California living.

The Event Will Feature:

  • 10 amazing original and remodeled homes will be part of the tour
  • A comprehensive Tour Booklet is included in the ticket price for you to keep
  • A vintage Airstream up close – come take a peak inside!
  • Meet and shop from 9 mid-century modern inspired artists within the homes. Artists include Steve Cambronne from Palm Springs, Victoria KlochAtomic Mobile by Debra Ann, Gretchen MichaelsMae PerlsonJW PippenChris RanesMichael Murphy, and Jeffery Crussell.
  • Meet the home owners
  • Meet the contractors and architects behind the remodel work
  • The Modern Hub – offering a look at vintage Eichler brochures and photos
  • Free showings of the film People in Glass Houses: The Legacy of Joseph Eichler by Realtor-turned-filmmaker Monique Lombardelli
  • Lunches can no longer be ordered online for catering count reasons. However, a limited amount of ‘day of’ lunches will be available for purchase at event for $12.
  • A limited edition, numbered commemorative event poster available for purchase (please purchase with ticket)

Some unique home features that will surely offer inspiration:

  • Solutions that represent a wide-spectrum of every budget – from DIY, off-the-shelf products, to one-of-a-kind custom solutions
  • An inspiring range of kitchen and bath remodels
  • Various interior design styles – from vintage mid-century style to contemporary
  • See a wide range of flooring materials in situ : cork, concrete, radiant-friendly walnut wood, natural slate, ceramic tile, and terrazzo-style glass tile
  • Innovative built-in storage solutions
  • A fresh take on interior wood panelling for walls
  • A small backyard turned into a big retreat, featuring an artist studio
  • Natural wood ceiling beams
  • A great room with a completely retractable sliding glass wall
  • Modern native-based landscaping with a zen edge
  • Storage solutions that define the space
  • Add-on detached office space that ties it all together
  • Maximized connection of living space to open space
  • Smart solutions to “where to put the laundry machines”
  • Color palettes that suit every mood and style
  • Do-it-yourself projects
  • Smart home expansions and additions that retain Eichler qualities
  • Fences / hardscaping ideas
  • Usable front yards – Creating a front-yard courtyard
  • Living large in a small space, maximizing space
  • Modern updates to classic Eichler elements
Eichler Restoration Project

Eichler Restoration Project

My Eichler renovation side project is finally done. Soon, it will become home to a new set of Eichler owners. I hope they absolutely love their new home! Mark and his team gave extra attention to detail to preserve so many beautiful elements of this Eichler home, while updating to modern standards. It has been a joy to work with him.

Remember this? Eichler Kitchen Before:


After: Maintained the same original footprint. New Ikea Cabinets (Abstrakt), modern Galaxy Pendant globes, and new appliances. I convinced Mark (after much persuasion and many samples) to install new VCT floors, in Armstrong’s Cool White. Cork and linoleum were original floor materials used in Eichler homes; I love the bright, fresh look that these floors give to the home. And super durable as well.

Modern Eichler Kitchen Renovation

Before:Eichler Kitchen Before

After: All original windows/glass and doors. Just cleaned Eichler Renovation After

Living Room/Dining Room Before:Eichler Dining Room Before

Living Room After:Eichler Living Room Restoration

Nelson Bubble Suacer Lamp

Atrium Before:Atrium Before

Atrium After:Atrium After

Ok, tired of the befores? Here are a few more after shots – enjoy!

Eichler Renovation After

Midcentury Modern Backyard

Eichler kitchen from outside

Master Bedroom:Master bedroom



Eichler Windows

Modern outdoor sconce

Eichler Renovation

Eichler RestorationThank you Mark for giving me the opportunity to help you preserve this Eichler home back to it’s original midcentury modern glory. It’s a real beauty! Now we need to get to work back at our own place!

Updates include:

-New exterior paint and trim. I recommended the original dark charcoal color (after finding a spot of it in a far corner for the outside siding, under several layers of scratched paint) and the atomic orange beam accent

-All doors and windows kept original and restored and meticulously cleaned. Original door buzzer kept in tact.

-Original luan panels, oiled

-New VCT (vinyl composite tile) throughout

-New Ikea Kitchen, original footprint

-New lighting –  YLighting, Home Depot & Lowes

-New front and backyard landscaping

-New fencing

Eichler Kitchen Inspiration

Eichler Kitchen Inspiration

We are getting closer to the true planning stages of our kitchen renovation.

Here is a photo of beautiful original Eichler kitchen from 45 Wall Design: 45 Wall Design

LOVE the paneled doors and white linoleum. Though I love the original cabinetry, anything original is sadly long gone from our house and we are likely to go with new cabinets that have a hint of the history, but with more modern bent.

I just discovered Kerf and their beautifully designed cabinetry:


A nice idea for a banquette or built-in bench: Kerf

And of course, my favorite, Semihandmade doors made specifically for Ikea cabinets:

Semihandmadedoors Mahogany

Follow us

Contact us at: