Real Estate

Modern -- all the way

Six homes go from past to present, all touting the modern sensibility

Eichler purists should be delighted to visit a largely untouched, original Bob Anshen and Steve Allen-designed home in Palo Alto, which is featured on this year's Silicon Valley Modern Home Tour on May 16.

It's easy to spot the roots of today's modern home designs, with their great rooms and indoor/outdoor sensibilities.

What the new homeowners -- they bought the home last November -- were so attracted to was that open floor plan.

"It's very inviting. ... You feel part of nature. When you step in, the energy flows; you're not surrounded by walls," the husband said.

And that flow of energy and light was something they simply didn't encounter in many of the larger homes they toured, the wife added.

"In not even five minutes we started imagining ourselves here," he said.

Little has been changed in the pale-gray-with-turquoise-trim home since 1950. The kitchen and bathrooms were likely updated in the '70s but kept the electric range and Formica countertops. Sitting on the living-room couch, one can still look out a wall of single-paned glass to the side yard, which makes the home seem much larger than its less than 1,200 square feet.

Much of the owners' attention has turned to furnishing their new home in a midcentury modern style. A major find was the round table and four bright red, molded plastic chairs, designed by Verner Panton, a Danish furniture designer who they discovered online. Another gem is the George Nelson-designed sunburst, multicolor clock.

Although the couple prefers a spare look -- this is a home with no clutter -- they have managed to find paintings, a console table and several lamps "that don't look new," the wife said.

So far the only "change" the couple has made is to paint the iconic beams in the ceiling a rusty brown shade. But they're thinking of replacing the light carpeting with wood flooring "to give a more clean look," she said.

"I like the house the way it is. It's a unique experience to live in it," her husband added.

Someday they might expand in back, but "we don't want to disturb this area," he said, pointing to the living room.

Other homes on the tour include:

* Palo Alto: An updated Eichler that the architect describes as "truly open," with the living area extended outdoors to private side yards; landscaping enhances the living space and includes a fountain and concrete bench wall (architect: John Klopf, Klopf Architecture);

* San Mateo, "The Life House": award-winning split-level, smart and green home that is surrounded by glass, offering views of Treasure Island and the San Francisco Bay; features include two fireplaces, a wrap-around deck, steam room and outside spa (architect: Perto Belluschi, 1958);

* Belmont: A brand-new, Eichler-inspired midcentury modern home that incorporates energy efficiency; follows hillside slope with step-down ceiling heights; and has an indoor-outdoor feel, with nature all around; the "Modern Atrium House" has a central stacked stone fireplace chimney that extends up through a skylight (architect: John Klopf, Klopf Architecture);

* Sunnyvale: A renovated 1967 Eichler, with atrium, new metal roof, updated kitchen and family room (architect: Mark J. Marcinik, M110 Architecture);

* Portola Valley: Built for an employee of Bethlehem Steel in 1960, the modest home features a steel post-and-beam module, extensive use of glass and a flat wood roof (architect: Beverly "David" Thorne).

The tour is self-paced, and addresses are available on the website.

What: 2015 Silicon Valley Modern Home Tour

When: Saturday, May 16, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Six homes on the Peninsula, including two in Palo Alto and one in Portola Valley

Cost: $30 online in advance (through May 15 at 8 p.m.), $40 same day at any of the tour homes; free for children 12 and under

Info: Silicon Valley Modern Home Tour

Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be emailed at

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