Visionary real estate developer, Jospeh Eichler, had a prolific career in the 1950’s and 1960’s designing modern homes for middle-class families. He built over 10,000 homes in California, many in the Greater Bay Area, and 350 homes in the Walnut Creek neighborhood of Karen Nepacena and John Shum. Their company, Destination Eichler, started as a design blog for homeowners and has transformed into a design firm that focuses on mid-century modern architecture. I talked to Karen, an East Bay native, about her passion for bringing these homes to life while preserving their details. Come see what she has to say about why specific floor plans have a bathroom accessed by the yard, what amenities were ahead of their time, and the favorite design sources she uses for special items to help these homes continue to shine.
From Karen: We were attracted to the airy glass walls, post-and-beam construction, and unique indoor-outdoor atrium feature of our Eichler home. When these homes were originally built in the 50’s and 60’s, their designs were fairly innovative. Nearly 60 years later, Eichler homes and their unique design have enjoyed a renewed interest and appreciation. We are proud to be a part of a community of homeowners keeping this piece of architecture and history alive.
While Eichler homes aren’t particularly large in square footage, they can often seem more expansive because of floor-to-ceiling glass windows and central atriums that are hallmark features of Eichler homes. It may seem difficult at first to source appropriate replacement parts and materials for older homes, but I am constantly amazed at the wonderful community of mid-century modern home enthusiasts who are open to sharing tips and resources for hard to find items, from vintage door knobs to one-of-a-kind wood siding.
Eichler homes really are family friendly and were originally designed with families in mind. For example, one floor model includes a side door from the yard into the second bathroom, so that kids could come in from playing outside to wash up before coming into the house.
These homes were ahead of their time, built with features such as in-floor radiant heating. I am thankful to have the opportunity to work with clients that really appreciate the rich history behind these homes and want to ensure that they maintain a home’s integrity when deciding to embark on a home renovation.
Favorite Sources for Eichler Inspired Decor
Tile: Fireclay Tile offers an array of colors and shapes that fit perfectly into mid-century modern homes. Plus, the tile is made in here in California and I love their commitment to sustainable design.
Vintage Finds: I find many vintage mid-century modern furniture and accessories via Instagram. One of my favorite Instagram purveyors is RadicalRelics. He sources and sells wonderful finds, including colorful retro fireplaces. Another favorite is Mid Mod Kitch. Cristina has an amazing eye for color and artwork, which I love! I’ve purchased many beloved pieces from her online store, including our vintage Seth Thomas clock that hangs in our dining room.
Of course, right here in the East Bay, we are fortunate to have the MidCentury Mobler showroom in Berkeley, which is a Modernist’s heaven!
Lighting: For the classics, I go to YLighting, especially for authentic designs such as the George Nelson Bubble Lamp Saucer. For period-appropriate bathroom lighting, they also offer iconic mid-century modern designer’s work, such as these great atomic-style wall sconces from George Kovacs.
Accessories: I usually source vintage ceramics and pottery from local Estate Sales. But if I am out of luck at Estate Sales, Modernica is the go-to for their beautiful collection of Case Study® planters.
Ceramics: I could buy everything at Heath! I especially adore their beautiful ceramics, from vases to mugs.
Textiles: Marimekko’s prints have long been an inspiration with their classic mid-century modern roots and timeless design.
For more information on Destination Eichler, go here.
Images c/o Destination Eichler