Eichler Restoration

2015: The Snowball Year

As we embark on yet another New Year, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back and reflect on 2015. It was a year of constant renovation and projects -- one seriously tiring, but satisfying year! While we live in California (where there is a severe drought and NO snow)... it was still quite the snowball year for us! We completed the Kitchen Renovation a year ago, right before the 2014 holiday season (and hosting my family for Christmas Eve Dinner). The kitchen itself was complete, but we had not yet started on the dining room, sliding doors, or family room. (or Exterior for that matter.) The more we stood in the new kitchen space, the more we hated the small living area and dining room.

That's what started the "renovation snowball effect" which I know many of you DIYers and homeowners know all too well! After the kitchen, began the transformation of the Living Room area, Dining Room, then Exterior.

Building out the new media wall and installing large windows was a game changer!

Not even sure anymore the order of operations, but we moved on to replacing a bunch of sliding doors and restoring the living room, then somehow got into the exterior of the house too.


LEAST favorite parts of 2015? Ripping down all that siding! Front. Atrium. Back. Ugh.

Removing Siding

Highlights of 2015? -- Most definitely our family trip to Palm Springs, which was a much welcomed break from DIY projects and served as inspiration for design and creativity, and of course fun family time together.

Here is the first "Desert Eichler" in Palm Springs:

Desert Eichler #1

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2015 has also been a very special year connecting with friends (old and new!) who share our same passion and love for midcentury homes, design and DIY projects, whether in person or online. It is still amazing to us how technology and social media have shaped how we can connect with people, all around the world.

Over the summer, we enjoyed a "weekend getaway" up to Sacramento to visit our friends Andy + Karen from fogmodern, attending a fun Rivercats game and a stay at their lovely Eichler home to catch up on their latest DIY projects.

Go Rivercats! (and Giants!)


Fogmodern's wonderfully organized and pretty-to-look-at home office. I wish. 


In the fall, a wonderful Meet-up hosted by our South Bay Eichler friends Karolina + David from dearhouseiloveyou brought a bunch of us Eichler folks together from all parts of the Bay to enjoy great food, company, and house talk. We're well overdue now for another!


This fall, we tackled a few more smaller projects, finally completing the back of the house:

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Eichler Siding Replacement IMG_2065


We hosted the family again this year for a festive Christmas Eve dinner:


And one last project to squeeze into 2015;  new walnut paneling in dining room to come!


If you have read down this far, you really are wonderful! :) Happy New Year to you all. Hope it brings whatever it is that you are hoping for!

See you in 2016!


Karen (and John)



Atrium Sliding Door to Dining Room


Where there used to be a huge 10'x6' sliding door and transom in the original home, the previous owner walled it up and installed a vinyl window with extra fancy muntins - this also had to go. We had to take down the wall to install our 8'x8' door, the largest that Milgard offered. 2015-04-18 13.46.11

As a reference, this is what this room originally looked like (neighbor's house):


We started from the top and worked our way down.

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Was tempting to leave like this and make a "take-out" window:

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Waiting to finish up with another glass transom above the sliding door. But now, when you walk into our atrium, you can see right into the dining room. We have quickly put the old window and vinyl siding out of our memory. Too bad the rest of the house is still wrapped in it, but now we know it's not difficult (just laborious) to remove the vinyl siding.

New Eichler Atrium Sliding Door

The vinyl door with the fancy faux muntins had to go - despite the fact that it was a perfectly good door. Our dear Craigslist helped to upcycle the door to a new home. We began by breaking down the soon-to-be transom section to make sure there wasn't still glass up there and to take a peek at the framing, but wanted to remove the door first. 2015-03-22 10.51.35

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After the door removed, we continued with the area above the door.

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We had to prepare the sill and also reinforce the post, which had been terribly sawzalled in half! The previous owner wanted to use an off-the-shelf replacement door from The Home Depot, and needed about 3 inches, so they cut 2 inches from one post, and an inch from the other - ARGH!

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We filled in with wood filler and a finishing coat of higher end spackle then painted using an old can of grey paint laying around (final colors for another day).

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Milgard Sliding Door Frame Assembly

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We installed the door frame, panels, and hardware.

Next we trimmed out the transom, got a custom piece of glass from Diablo Glass.


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[Final shot to be added]

Modern Wood Panel Ideas

We've always wanted to bring back some of the wood paneling that was part of the original walls of Eichler homes. Wood paneling brings a nice warmth to the room and I love the thought of integrating natural materials back into the home. Now that we have blown out the old master closet that was taking up part of the original footprint of living space, the need has come sooner than later to find a solution for paneling our new living room media wall.

We've been searching the web for different paneling solutions; here are some beautiful installations:

Warm Wood Panels in Living RoomFrom Dick Clark + Associates via Houzz

Wood Panel Ideas

From Topos Design via Houzz.

And from the nearby Eichler project I worked on, where the original Luan panels were beautifully restored:

We picked up some wood panel samples (Walnut, Mahogany, Beech and Cherry) from Macbeath in Berkeley and applied three different stains to each wood sample. Just like choosing a new paint color, we thought it might be good to see what the wood and stains look like in different lighting. So far, the Walnut Panel with Walnut Finish is one of my favorites. I love the grain pattern in the walnut and this finish is just light enough to show the gradients of the wood, but is also a nice, rich color.

Once we decide, I will stain each panel and John will have to figure out all the detailed trim work. More to come!

Eichler Wood Panel Samples

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Inspirational Kitchen Tile Ideas


When people ask, "How's the kitchen remodel?" my answer lately has been, "It's almost almost done." John has been doing some trial and error runs on the concrete counter making, but more on that later (when we finally have a successful counter piece to show/photograph).

In the meantime, I have been spending hours on Houzz and Pinterest for kitchen tile backsplash inspiration. We've narrowed down to two amazing ceramics and tile companies, both offer beautiful product lines, gorgeous color palettes and lucky for us, allow us to support local California based companies.

First, is Heath Ceramics, founded in 1948 by Edith Heath. Heath has a few showrooms in the Bay Area and we ventured to the huge San Francisco Showroom to see the tile in person.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.32.17 PM

They offer a variety of sizes, colors and glazes to view. We couldn't decide, so bought several small samples to take home.

Heath Ceramic Tile
Heath Ceramic Tile

I am leaning towards the classic triangle design, which would fit well with the historic midcentury period of our Eichler home.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.32.37 PM

I loved all the colors that Heath offers, but was surprised that there weren't more true orange hue choices. Through Houzz, I discovered another California-based company, Fireclay Tile. They have a beautifully designed website, gorgeous colors, and boast sustainable manufacturing to boot. They shipped me free samples of their recycled (70% post consumer waste, including recycled wine bottles!) clay tile, in some eye-popping hues:  Lagoon, Tangerine, and Turquoise.

Fireclay Sustainable Tile
Fireclay Sustainable Tile

Fireclay also offers all the classic shapes and patterns:

Fireclay patterns
Fireclay patterns

And some really fabulous modern hand-painted patterns. These would be amazing as a wall feature or for our fireplace:

Fireclay Handpainted Contemporary Collection
Fireclay Handpainted Contemporary Collection

I think we have narrowed in on our final choice of main color, but still need to determine which shape and and accent colors we might add.

Might be it's time for a visit to Fireclay's San Francisco showroom for some added advice and eye candy too.


San Francisco Showroom:

901 Brannan St San Francisco, CA 94103

San Jose:

495 W Julian St San Jose, CA 95110

Heath Ceramics - Multiple showrooms, including Los Angeles and Sausalito

San Francisco Showroom: 2900 18th Street San Francisco, CA 94110

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. ikea-boxes-kitchen


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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 Exterior - San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour

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


San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour 2014 - Iconic design

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

Eichler Renovation - Final Reveal

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 Renovation Project - Progress

Here"s the progress of my recent Eichler Renovation project. I consulted on the paint colors, after finding a scratch through the original original siding (and many layers of paint), and finding a speck of this charcoal color. I convinced them to paint the accent beam orange (from the list of original "Eichler Paint Colors" from my previous post), with a matching orange door to boot. I don"t even think I have any "before" pictures, but let"s just say, it wasn"t this pretty.

Eichler Exterior Paint

Doesn"t the house look sharp?!



Eichler Exterior Paint

The windows have all been cleaned and scraped (old layers of paint) and are SO clear that a few people have almost walked through them.20140403-2014-04-03 12.54.36

This view is neat; you can look through from both the Master Bedroom and main room/kitchen and see out to the beautiful backyard and pool.

Eichler Restoration


Kitchen has yet to be completed, but soon to come, some clean, modern white cabinets within the original L-shaped footprint. Oh, and some beautiful lighting of course. These globes are circa the 70s.

Eichler Kitchen Renovation


Can"t wait to see the shiny white floors; gives me hope for the future of our house and what it can be!

Eichler Restoration

I've been working on a fun side project for the last few weeks and finally have a moment to share some of the progress. There's a house in the neighborhood undergoing a restoration, which I have been given the fantastic opportunity to provide consultation on, and, even more exciting (to me at least) the house layout and design happens to be our exact model. So it's like going back in time, seeing many original features of the original house, but also like seeing our house's future, since we have long term plans to bring back some of these exact same Eichler fundamentals that are long gone in our home.

Here's a few "befores":

Original sliding doors, from atrium into living space:

Eichler Restoration

Beautiful unpainted, stained/washed ceiling:

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Full glass windows and doors to the backyard:


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Outside view:

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Original paneling flowing from atrium into house: 20140308-Copy of 2014-03-08 14.20.40

Side/Bedroom Side of the house (with door to bathroom):

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Dining/Living Room View - All original luan paneling:

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Atrium sliding door entrance - see the hint of original dark charcoal paint in the scratch mark:

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Original Eichler Kitchen Layout, but not the original cabinets (or globes!):

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View into atrium:


Eichler Radiant Heating Systems


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


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):


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.


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?



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.



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.