Eichler

Mid-Century Home Magazine

MidCentury Home We recently discovered a wonderful online magazine, Midcentury Home, which as the name implies, is dedicated to all things mid-century modern. Recently the site has been publishing features on other Eichler owners, such as our dear friends at DearHouseILoveYou. We love their stories on historic mid-century architects such as Anshen and Allen, (who Eichler hired to design many of his communities) as well as iconic buildings such as The Barcelona Pavilion.

Today, our home and story is featured! Thank you Marco for finding our story interesting and continuously providing us with beautiful imagery and stories behind mid-century modern design!

You will find some of those treasured (I mean dreaded) "Before" photos, as well as some recent photos of our latest projects that haven't even made it to the blog yet. Enjoy!

 

Eichler Exterior Redux

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Our "strategy" when it comes to the prioritization of our home improvement projects has been an inside-out approach. We started with the heart of the home (in our case, the kitchen), then are slowly working our way outwards. So our largest project to date is the kitchen renovation, followed by the living room and media wall, and a bit of work in the dining room. As we worked on the dining and living room, we ended up replacing both the sliding doors that go from each respective room, into our central atrium. That then led to us pulling off all the vinyl siding in our atrium, and suddenly, we found ourselves pulling siding down from our car port wall, then the beams (yes our beams are also covered) ... then trim around the garage door, with the rest of the front of our house to go.

Eichler Siding Reveal

Wait, how are we outside already?! We aren't even done with the inside!

So now that the wheels have come off (or in this case, the vinyl siding), we are starting to think about tackling our house exterior, far sooner than we had planned (and the budget is planned).  I've been gathering inspiration on exterior paint colors from all over, including our recent visits to the Orange and Sacramento Eichler neighborhoods and scouring Pinterest. We have a few paint samples to test out this weekend, but here is the color scheme I have been envisioning:

Navy and Turquoise Exterior Inspiration

We haven't seen a lot of dark navy Eichlers, but after working on the San Jose Ct. Eichler project, I have always admired the crisp, clean lines of a dark colored house with white beams and accent colors. The barn photo above is Polo Blue from Benjamin Moore, which I plan to test on some siding this weekend. The lovely Palm Springs shot is from Flikr and the two on the right are from a MCM Austin AirBnb and the Eichlerforsale website.

We also have some wonderful darker gray samples to consider, though our neighbors (who have an amazing house) next door are also gray, so we want to respectfully "complement" their house.

More to come! We still have yet to pull the rest of the tan vinyl siding off, but once we do, at least we know what color it will be.

 

Living Room Remodel: Media Wall, Windows, Closet - 75% Complete

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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 ;)

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Demolition

Bedroom Closet Rebuild

Wood Paneling the Media Wall

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

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Exterior Wall Demolition

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Original picture from our neighbor's house to compare:

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2015-03-13 08.55.25

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

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2015-03-18 07.39.49

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 (Note, kitchen below is nowhere near an original Eichler kitchen, but instead, has seen "renovations" over time that weren't original to Eichler homes..

Before the Eichler Kitchen Remodel

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original-eichler-kitchen-before-remodel
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Eichler-Kitchen-Before

After the Eichler Kitchen Remodel

Our end goal: to rebuild a new, modern kitchen and living space, reworking the layout so that it would be an open concept floorplan. We really wanted to bring back many 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 more streamlined 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 and lighting, while saving money on labor costs.

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.

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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 (vinyl composite 
  3. Ikea Cabinet installation with Semihandmade Doors
  4. DIY concrete counters
  5. Bluestar Gas Range
  6. Vent Hood Installation
  7. Fireclay Diamond Tile 
  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
  12. Wine Fridge

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. 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.

SO GLAD WE'RE DONE!

MUCH thanks to everyone who helped us out mixing, hauling, delivering, lifting, and sweating with us.

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karen-final-eichler-kitchen

DIY Concrete Countertops

After a visit with my old friend, Mark Melonas, from Luke Works in Baltimore, MD, we received encouragement and inspiration to try our hand at our own concrete countertops. I expected a learning curve, so I wanted to share our experience with as much transparency as possible because the pros like Mark, make it look easy - and it's NOT.

DIY Concrete Countertops: The Approach

  1. Styrofoam Forms - 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 the lazy method to avoid having to cut the rails. I didn't have great carpentry skills and want to haul several pieces of 4'x8' melamine sheets from the store.
  2. Avoid Polishing - Polishing can, theoretically, be avoided entirely by using the glossy polycarbonate casting base and glossy form tape. Typically, the molds are melamine, which leaves a matte 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. There are newer techniques using acid to reduce polishing time, but in the end I still had to polish. (So much for that idea!)

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+ 80 pound bags

Concrete Countertop Guys Do It Upside-down

When you cast a countertop, you need to imagine everything you do upside-down. The finished surface is actually the bottom of the form. The finished surface will be as good as the concrete touching the base surface of the form. 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 countertop finish.

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.

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.

Mixer from Lowes took about an hour to assemble.

Plastic over the concrete to help keep in the moisture and warmth to reduce cracking and let the chemicals work their magic.

Our first attempt came out a complete failure, as the mixture was too dry. By the third try, we found the right consistency. There is a slump test we failed to do that you can Google.

Our third attempt came out nicely - here are the slabs taken out of the forms and flipped over to reveal the surface. They appear very dark before all the moisture finishes evaporating during the curing phase.

With the plywood in place, we installed our first slab, wheeling it into the kitchen with the help of our hydraulic lift from Harbor Freight.

With this installation, we went straight from mold to counter. At this phase, we should've polished, but we got impatient and moved it in.

The other pieces were casted reusing the rails - the image above showing the knockout for half the sink and vent.

Here is a Cheng knockout for a faucet or vent, which allows standard faucets and fittings to fit into a 2.5" slab. This is really important or you will have no room to fit the nuts around the threads. 

Here we added some mesh for strength.

The surface here doesn't need to be perfect, as it'll be the bottom of the slab when installed.

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:

Here is a more basic finish option.

Here is a more basic finish option.

Here is a seamless waterfall edge.  Photo by Luke Works.

Here is a seamless waterfall edge. Photo by Luke Works.

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. The Cheng method for seams is to not hide them, but to make a clean butt joint, a sharper edge than normal, by whiping away all the caulk when you run your finger over the mould seam, instead of keeping a smooth contour like all the other seams between the base casting surface and the rails. (This would be only along the seam that would butt up against another piece.)

Vinyl Edging for Countertop Sub-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. It irons on easily and helps accentuate the shadow just beneath the countertop and cabinet. 

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.

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.

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hardin-wet-polisher

Revisiting our initial approach:

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 2x4 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.

Eichler Sliding Doors: Replacing Patio Doors

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It was time to rid of our white vinyl sliding doors that came with the house. These aren't one of these doors you can pick up at The Home Depot or Lowes. As you can see, the previous owner grabbed something off the shelf, a standard vinyl slider that didn't exactly fit, which inspired some post cutting, lots of shimming and trim work. The original transom was taken out and drywalled over. eichler-vinyl-slider

 

Comparing Slide Door Options for Eichlers

1. Arcadia Sliding Doors

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Eichler homes were built with Arcadia doors, and although they are still in business, mainly doing commercial applications, they still sell a line of doors that will work. The 5000 Series of doors were available through Eichler Solutions. One of the principals visited and quoted us about $3,200 for the door and transom. These are pretty awesome doors, as our neighbor had them installed all around the house and they look and function great.

2. Western Windows / Blomberg Sliding Doors

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Western also sent out Bob from Associated Building Supply out to quote us a Blomberg Series 600 door, also around $3,000 with the transom.

3. Milgard Sliding Doors

At the Concord Eichler yard sale fest, we happened to pick up a free Milgard door that fit perfectly into one of our openings. The previous owner explained how it came with the house and was purchased, but never installed. We figured to give it a go and if it worked out, order more of them. After a successful install, we got a quote from Dolan Lumber for $1,100.

The Dolan Sale Rep also mentioned higher end doors from Fleetwood, so I'm sure that would be a good option as well.

Removing the Old Door

This was fairly straightforward, as we cut the fins, removed screwed, peeled back adhesive, and popped the door out. There was also vinyl and aluminum siding to remove from the eves an posts (in case you're wondering what all that stuff is hanging from the eves).

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Installing the New Sliding Door

  1. Prepared the framing, cleaned up the posts
  2. Prepared the sill with redwood and flexible membrane
  3. Assembled the Milgard aluminum frame
  4. Mounted the frame - caulked, leveled and shimmed
  5. Installed the panels and hardware
  6. Frame the transom
  7. Installed the glass
  8. Finished the interior door trim

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The Milgard door we got at a garage sale didn't come with an interior handle, strike plate, or stopper. We called Milgard directly, and because of the 10 year transferrable warranty, they sent us all the parts for free. Great customer service!

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Eichler Kitchen Remodel: Fireclay Tiled 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 Semihandmade Doors & Panels

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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-cabinet-doors2

 

Eichler Kitchen Plumbing & Electrical

We didn't want to move the drain, so we focused on putting the island where the sink could reach the existing drain. We also wanted to keep the junction boxes where they were mounted, and mount them inside one of the cabinets. It was a little tricky carving out the base of the cabinet to fit the drain and electrical conduits, but we managed to arrange the island to get it all fitted nicely. We arranged the cabinets to gauge spacing before we actually started digging.

We had to turn the cut off valves around so they would be accessible, remove the vent pipe, and run the water lines in the ground, so dug a trench in the concrete slab that ran over to the nearest exterior wall, where we ran water and vent vertically to the roof.

Up on the roof, we had to redivert the water lines to run down the wall to connect to the waterlines we ran from the trench, so we tapped into the existing lines on the roof. After the new copper was installed, we covered up the pipes with more insulation and spray foam.

We filled up the trench with gravel, sand, and concrete. The island loop was necessary to ensure the water drained well, and backflow exited to the vent instead of backing up into the sink.

We then installed the cabinates onto 2x4's, and secured the cabinets to each other.

We installed the dishwasher to make sure we had the right cabinet height and ensure our countertop would mount nicely.

We installed an undermount sink, disposal, and insta-hot water unit, and used a router to get the sink edge flush with the plywood sub-counter. I installed the faucet, temporarily, so we could get a working kitchen back in order, while we spent the next couple months on the concrete counters.

Sink: Miseno 32" from Build.com for about $350.

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miseno-sink

Eichler 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.

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: LED Toe Kick Lighting

Freshly placed waterfall slab
Freshly placed waterfall slab
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led-toe-kick-lighting
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motion-sensor

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, 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.

Eichler Radiant Heating Systems

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Original Eichler Radiant Heat

Eichlers were originally built with a copper tubing radiant heating that ran hot water through a dedicated boiler located next to the main water heater either installed in the garage or the side of the house.

Although it can be argued that this type of heating system is very inefficient, due to all the energy required to first heat a huge concrete slab before feeling the heat within the home, it is a desirable feature within a home to an Eichler purist. The other issue is that the heating control becomes more of an on/off switch, so it's either super hot or cold, and also takes a couple hours to get going.

Fixing Eichler Radiant Heating

Is there is a problem, thermal imaging devices can be used to detect the location of the leak, then floor needs to be taken up,  concrete broken up, tubing repaired, then finally filled back with concrete.

Replacing Eichler Radiant Heating

If you want to replace the system with a modern heating product, there are several options you have that offer a major improvement:

  • Pex plumbing instead of copper - its easier to install and is the new proven product heating product
  • Electric radiant - easier to install, but may require additional breakers and lines run throughout heating zones
  • Installing the new heating elements closer to the finished surface

eichler-radiant-heating-replacement

Although it seems quite labor-intensive to carve out a channel throughout your home, its better than digging up the entire foundation, right? The goal is to gain efficiency by moving the heating elements closer to the finished flooring, and also install a solution that doesn't raise the finished floor higher than the original height. Water heating is more efficient than electric, but requires more work for installation. Some systems tap into your existing water heater using heat exchangers, but if your tank isn't large enough, you can opt for a dedicated unit.

We've seen original heating systems and boilers still in perfect operation, but many have been abandoned long ago after the first leak detected. Our radiant system was abandoned for a modern central HVAC system which seemed pretty practical seeing how it will heat AND cool. Ducts were ran on the roof to each room, with a new furnace next to the water heater, and condenser on the side of the house.

Eichler Flooring

Original Eichler Flooring

Original Eichler floors were VAT (vinyl asbestos tile) or cork floors, with radiant heat below. Many Eichlers today no longer have these floors intact, and if it is there and damaged, care must be taken to test for and/or remove asbestos.

Below is some original VAT flooring from http://lauren-eichlerkitchenremodel.blogspot.com/

original eichler flooring

FogModern.com had shared a reveal of some original Eichler cork (below):

eichler-cork-flooring

We ended up opting for some modern cork flooring to replace carpet that was installed after all the original linoleum was scraped up from a previous owner. It came out great and was very comfortable on the feet for both summer and winter. Its affordable at under $3.00/sq.ft. at icorkfloor.com.

Dolerite_Ripple-cork_flooring_floating_forna_sound_proof

Top 10 Eichler Questions

I recently met a new Eichler owner, who loves his new house and can appreciate its great bones, but is new to the nuances of Eichler homes, original materials, and history. I can talk for hours (in general!) but was inspired to put together this Top 10 Eichler FAQs based off the hours and hours I have done researching our home, meeting other Eichler enthusiasts and visiting original homes:

1. What was the original Eichler flooring?

A: Original Eichler floors were linoleum or cork floors, with radiant heat below. Many Eichlers today no longer have linoleum intact, and if it is there and damaged, care must be taken to test for and/or remove asbestos.

2. What is original Eichler siding?

eichler-exterior

eichler-exterior

A: Original Eichler siding is made of wood, with thin pinstripe grooves. Original siding was stained color, not painted. More on Eichler Siding from vendors such as Eichler Siding who manufacturer siding specific for Eichler Homes.

3. What were the original exterior Eichler paint colors (stain, not paint)

Original Eichler Paint Colors

Original Eichler Paint Colors

A: There were color palettes approved for main house color and accents.

accent-colors

accent-colors

4. What were original Eichler kitchens like?

45 Wall Design

45 Wall Design

A: Traditionally paneled sliding doors, made from a multicolored lacquer paint, called Zolatone. A multi-use table usually adjoined the stove island area, that could rotate. Source 45 Wall Design

5. What is an Atrium?

A: Some Eichler models featured a courtyard in the center of the home. Our house is 1226 model that features the Atrium + 1-Car Port, while other models open up to other styles of atriums and layouts.

6. What are the original sliding doors?

A: Our last set of original doors are made by Arcadia, from aluminum.

7. What are Eichler roofs made from?

A: Original roofs were tar, paper and gravel. Yup. Tar, paper and gravel. Which for those of you in hot summer climates like us in the East Bay (90s to 100s in the summer), an upgrade to insulated (often foam) roofs are a necessity.

8. What is a swamp cooler?

A: Original Eichlers had a swamp cooler that circulated air from the top of the house back into the house. I've stood under a friend's before; it's cool and breezy on a hot day. But doesn't recirculate too well to the rest of the house. Owners often have air condition units installed, which can be mounted to the top of the house (unsightly unfortunately) or individual units discreetly installed into each room.

9. What was original Eichler lighting?

A: Eichlers are known for the original globe pendants, which hang from a metal pendant (firm, not wire). Iconic lighting such as the George Nelson Bubble Lamps were often seen in the Eichler marketing brochures and in many original Eichler homes.

Globe Pendant

Globe Pendant

George Nelson Bubble Lamp, Saucer | Photo: InteriorDesign.net

George Nelson Bubble Lamp, Saucer | Photo: InteriorDesign.net

10. Why is there a door in the bathroom?

A: Some models of Eichlers do have a door from the bathroom, to the exterior of the house. This door was usually in the second bathroom, for kids to have easy access to get cleaned up before coming back into the house.

Honey, we're home!

Eichler 1226 Model Atrium Before all the restoration/renovation begins (and consumes) our lives, I just wanted to take a simple snapshot of the inspiration behind my love for Eichler homes: the Atrium. Outside, inside. How cool is that?! This was taken on the first day we got the keys to the house, before all the boxes, junk everywhere, construction debris, paint, toys...

Reminds me of this iconic Eichler home brochure photo (opposite view):

EIchler Home

photo Ernie Braun / via Eichler Network Online

 

Our Journey

Destination: Eichler

The beginnings of our journey began in the fall of 2012. We were quite happy with our 70’s era Ranch-style home:

293729_549357115079512_1313253756_n Our former 1979 Ranch House

We had tackled a few home improvement projects (such as hardwood flooring, a ton of painting, and a bathroom remodel), determined to give the house “our style.” It was located in a great neighborhood and nearby to a huge park.

But then we happened upon this mid-century marvel at an Open House, just a few miles from our current home:

Eichler Atrium

Eichler Walnut Creek

Eichler Interior

photos: Redfin

Wow. An Eichler home; 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, plus a bonus room and light-filled atrium. All in our hometown, same school district, and updated to meet the modern family’s needs.

All we could think was, how do we get our hands on one of those?!

And so it began...