There is a specific style of architecture that is eye-catching and marvelous in a very simple way. You may have visited a home of a friend or driven by one. The first thing you might notice is an entry-way that is geometrically designed to welcome you into the home. It’s elaborate but not overstated. And once you’re inside, it’s impossible not to marvel at the ceilings, windows, and often the fixtures that have created a clean but unique atmosphere. It’s likely that if you’re in this space, you are in an Eichler Home. Joseph Eichler built homes throughout the 1950s and 1960s that reflected his affinity for Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural genius. In his prime, Eichler worked with a builder who was able to create just over 11,000 homes in the state of California. His dream began to come to life when he saw that the popularity of his work was able to be shared by those of every class and race. The legacy of Eichler Homes stands strong today still due to the aesthetics, location, and availability in the market. Eichler didn’t just transform California home design, he left a lasting mark by creating a demand for the imagination in home building.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Mariko Reed POSTED BY: Dwell
Though the homes Eichler created became mass produced, they had a signature looks. The homes didn’t have a typical tilted roof, no outdoor bricks, or shingles from the roof top. Though these were all typical home features when Eichler began to build his home, the market adapted to the change in visuals when Eichler Homes hit the market. The signature style for Eichler was a simple design. These houses are generally very boxy and have flat roof tops. With the exception to the entry ways or the car ports, the homes have very few levels to the exterior. This creates a geometrically unassuming design which attracts the eye. Once inside, the homes create an expanse of space. With open floor plans, open air atriums, and concrete slab flooring, the space that is created is clean and fresh. Large, long, crystal clear, glass window panes surrounded the home allowing light to flood the open space. The use of organic and local materials and wood, mahogany and the like, created a living space that seemed more natural than commercial. The design lends itself to the owner’s creativity in décor and allows for creative agency in personalizing the space. With outdoor garden spaces that invite the owners to spend time with the earth, the concept shattered what was considered normal at the time. The space Eichler created is now known as “mid-century modern” and though it was modern then, it would still be considered modern, in terms of design, now. Homebuyers still desire to purchase Eichler homes as the aesthetic has lent itself to be transferrable in purpose over the course of time.
POSTED BY: Dwell
Fortunately, homebuyers can continue to find these homes on the market. Limited to the state of California, Eichler Homes create a strong demand in the market and have significantly increased in value over time. Most Eichler homes were built in Northern California in the Bay Area and are located in what is now considered higher end neighborhoods. The reason for this is because Joseph Eichler also created his homes to fit in the environment around them. The long winding roads leading up to the homes were part of the experience. As the real estate market in the Bay Area has increased, so have the values of these incredibly built homes. To live in a true Eichler home, California is the only destination as the homes were limited to the state. However, there have been designers and homebuilders that have created strikingly strong resemblances in neighborhoods across the pacific northwest and southwest part of the country. Finding one at a reasonable cost however, is out of the picture. While Eichler designed his homes to be for the middle class, they no longer are available to most. The low end of the true Eichler homes now run from 2 to 3 million dollars.
PHOTO BY: Mariko Reed POSTED BY: Dwell
As mentioned, the availability isn’t limited to the Bay Area. The copy-cat Eichlers have popped up country wide. One specific area that is quite enjoying the mid-century modern trend is the Los Angeles area as well as right outside in Palm Springs. Driving through that desert town, there are plenty of beautiful imitations to look at. If imitation truly is the finest form of flattery, Eichler would be certainly fawning at what has happened with his art. While the scarcity and exclusivity of the Eichler homes have lent themselves to the circumstances of supply and demand, they are still available for viewing when you can’t purchase. While many homeowners have remodeled their Eichler home, the structural integrity will withstand time. Without doubt, these architectural gems will continue to be a desired livable work of art in the state of California for the expanse of time.
PHOTO BY: Daniel Hennessy POSTED BY: Dwell
It’s unlikely that Joseph Eichler could have foreseen the popularity in his design. While his imagination led him to skylights, open ceilings, large glass windows, and multi-dimensional design, it’s impossible that he imagined how this changed history. Owning an Eichler home is similar to owning a piece of art. His homes are beautiful works and the owners do have a very special appreciation for him in that way. However unknown Eichler’s reaction would be, it’s clear that his work has created a force of change in the housing market that has transcended the expanse of time. His work and vision transformed the way homeowners view their options and opened their minds to the art of the possible when the industry standard was dictated previously by a single design. The impact of the Eichler homes in the market is not just limited to the geometrical lines he drew in a box, but more so the artistic integrity, community building, and home owning experience that Eichler aimed to achieve. In creating his masterpieces, he challenged the status-quo by daring greatly beyond what anyone knew before.