Real Estate

Out-Eichlering Eichler

Older Palo Alto home now fits mid-century modern sensibility

Not all Eichlers were created equally.

Back in 1949, when a small Eichler development arose in Barron Park, some were a tad quirky, with a side entrance, a crawl space rather than slab-on-grade and haphazardly aligned post-and-beam ceiling. Some of the windows had headers, with beams resting atop.

A couple with two young children contacted architect John Klopf through Eichler Network, first asking him to add a master bathroom.

That was phase one.

By the next year, they asked him to make their Eichler "more Eichler" -- with a clean design, an indoor/outdoor sensibility, beams that start at the front and end at the back and a front door facing the street.

The solution involved relocating the kitchen and creating a great room that opens to the outdoors, which includes a pool.

Today the Eichler sports the more typical ceiling that extends to the outdoors, separated by a NanaWall that runs the width of the family room. A rolled screen not only keeps the small children indoors (and the bugs out) but shades the room in summer.

The old kitchen was small and separate from the rest of the house. Toys and baby paraphernalia abounded in the living room, where adults were sitting too, Klopf says.

"Everything was there and all on top of each other," he says.

Not only do they have distinct family and adults-only spaces now, but best of all, Klopf says, "It gives them something they didn't have before -- a place to hang out as a family."

The owners wanted a clean, white kitchen, which they accomplished with custom-made cabinets, gray CaesarStone countertops and flooring in "Techno Gray" Daltile Vibe porcelain tile.

The original house had typical 8- and 10-foot ceilings, but high clerestory windows make the small addition "feel much larger and more spacious," he adds.

A versatile storage space was created in the laundry area, with a cabinet on casters for folding laundry sitting in front of a closet that houses the heart of the house's computer server. When they need to access the router or modem, they can slide the cabinet over and open the door.

Another goal of the second phase was to relocate the front door and replace it with a less traditional one. Today one can open the front door -- which is no longer located at the side of the house and see straight through to the back.

"As they went along and replaced and added to the house, they realized the old wood had been painted a number of times. It didn't look new," Klopf says, adding, "When they put new materials next to it, it really starts to look old."

So they ended up re-siding and stuccoing the whole house, even replacing fascia boards on the roof overhangs. Instead of patching the roof, they replaced it completely, adding thicker insulation, he says.

'The whole house is upgraded. The only thing not touched is the brick chimney in front. They may go back in a third phase and do something with that," he adds.


Architect: John Klopf, AIA, Klopf Architecture, San Francisco, 415-287-4225

Building contractor: Scott Flegel, Flegel's Construction, San Jose, 408-269-1101

Landscape designer:== Jared Vermeil, Vermeil Design, San Francisco,

Goal of project:

Add a master bathroom, redesign family room/kitchen, add new entry

Unanticipated issues:

Needed to design walls wider to accommodate screen for NanaWall

Year house built:


Size of home, lot:

Original 1,274 sq ft plus 500-sq-ft garage

Now 1,942 sq ft plus 476-sq-ft garage

on 9,500-sq-ft lot

Time to complete:

1st phase, 2010 -- a few months

2nd phase, 2011 -- six months


more than $500,000

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