A Classic Eichler Home In Los Altos Gets an Outdoor Update
Updated: Nov 22, 2022
We feel a little bit about our designs the way that parents feel about their children. They’re all special in their own way, and choosing a favorite feels impossible, if not a bit against moral code. However, whenever we get a chance to work on historic properties, such as Eichler homes, we are uniquely excited.
We’ve covered design renovations for Eichler homes on the blog before. In March, we revealed plans for this classic Eichler in Sunnydale. Today, we’re excited to share another Eichler home we’ve had the privilege to design for, this time in Los Altos, CA.
Before we jump into the design, we want to take a moment to explain why Eichler homes are so special. If you have read our previous blog post, then allow this to refresh your memory. If you’ve never heard of Eichler homes, then we’re happy to provide a brief overview.
What is an Eichler home?
Eichler homes are historic homes that date back to the 1950’s and 60’s, right around the turn of the century. In these decades, a famous real estate developer named Joseph Eichler was gaining momentum by building modern homes in California.
In this time, Joseph Eichler made a point to work with notable architects. Over two decades, Eichler built over 11,000 homes in the area. Most were inspired by classic, now iconic mid-century architecture reminiscent of the styles and designs of infamous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
In California, Eichler homes are instantly recognizable to anyone with knowledge of their history. To own one is to own a piece of design history, and to work on one is to help steward this history into the modern day. This is why when we get an Eichler client, we are uniquely excited.
The owners of this Eichler were looking to upgrade both the front and backyard space. Both yards were long and linear, with the right side of the backyard having more square footage than the left. Design must-haves included plenty of seating, a redesigned ADU that fit the style of their classic home, a pool, and an updated front yard that had both functionality and curb appeal.
We hit the drawing board and came back to present two directions to the homeowners. The first, Concept A, can be seen below. Concept A plays with the long linear lines of the space and the home.
Starting in the front yard, you can see the new driveway to the left of the image. Along the perimeter of the property, a new lawn takes shape, bordering a private, fenced in play area for the kids. From the play area in the corner of the property, you step onto a series of concrete steppers that lead you along the face of the home, and towards the front door. This front entrance has also been upgraded, now featuring a private paver patio with plenty of room for relaxing.
Leaving the front yard, the homeowners can continue along either side of their home into the backyard space. Along the right side of the home, the side approach is created with a paver pathway that opens up onto a larger paver patio. This paver patio is also the location for the new outdoor kitchen, covered with a modern pergola structure.
From the outdoor kitchen, the homeowners step down into the largest, longest section of their yard. The paver patio continues, creating a seamless transition to the new, luxury pool. Along the back side of the pool is a water feature wall. In the left corner is a funky, fun water slide, perfect for entertaining kids and adults alike.
Moving towards the left half of the backyard, an L shaped path of concrete stepper divides a new fire pit and patio directly off the home, and green space toward the back of the yard. Tucked in the left corner, among new trees and lush landscaping is the modern ADU. Around the corner, a private deck and spa allows both the homeowners or their guests to relax away from the chaos of any pool-goers.
In Concept B, many of the same elements are at play. However, materials and spacing have changed to create a different overall feel.
In the front yard, the private play area remains in the corner. In this design, however, the linear concrete path has organic curves, leading to a scored concrete patio as opposed to a seating area made of pavers.
Moving along the right side of the home and into the backyard, the paver patio from Concept A is seen again. In Concept B, however, the patio is anchored with a raised planter. To the right of the planter is a new, movable fire pit flanked on all sides by a seat bench. From here, the homeowners step up onto a deck that contains a custom outdoor fireplace and kitchen. Opting to change the hardscaping here creates a more distinct separation of space to that of Concept A.
From the right side of the yard, the homeowners step up into the main yard. Again, they are immediately greeted by the pool, which contains both a water slide and water feature wall in similar positions to the first concept. The left side of the yard is where things begin to look quite different.
In Concept A, the ADU was shaped like a square, and opened up to a square lawn space that divided the structure from the pool. In Concept B, the ADU has been changed to a long linear rectangle that echoes the shape of the pool. The previously square lawn now wraps along the front of the ADU, separating it from the seating area off the back of the home, and the deck and spa which remain nestled along the left side approach.
The Final Design
After reviewing both Concepts, the homeowners decided that they loved the simplicity and clean lines of Concept A. We made some minor tweaks, including increasing the green space around the ADU and simplifying the layout of the outdoor kitchen. The ADU also gained a raised wood deck to give guests some space to sit and relax. At the client’s request, we removed the feature wall from the back edge of the pool, and added an outdoor shower to the back corner of the home.
Overall, the space is a perfect reflection of modern outdoor design carefully integrated into classical architecture. The clients were thrilled, and the 3D renderings only increased this excitement.
2D designs are great, and are important parts of the design process. Still, it’s always extra magical to watch a space take shape in 3D. This is the stage of the design process where mere design suggestions start to become reality, and homeowners can see how their future outdoor space will look when all is said and done.
In these renders, you can see how the new outdoor design closely follows the classic lines of the home. Instead of fighting against the unique linear geometry of this Eichler home, the design takes advantage of every nook and cranny.
Clean lines and right angles of pathways and patios are softened throughout by careful landscape design. Trees add elevation to draw the eye, while shorter grasses and flowering native plantings inject life and color into this soothing color palette.
Above, you see the new slide rendered. We love how this slide almost becomes part of the environment, nestled into a stack of organic rocks and plantings. It is almost camouflaged while remaining fully functional. It serves as a design accent, and a selling point for an already great custom outdoor pool.
The outdoor kitchen and fireplace create a perfect spot to host guests or unwind after a long day at work. In the summer, the pergola slats keep sunlight from heating the space too quickly. In fall and winter, homeowners can crank the propone fire and cozy up on their new outdoor sectional sofa.
It was important that the ADU matched the design of the historic Eichler home. Here, you can see how the rendered structure imitates the mid century design appeal of the main home. Large glass windows and a flat, angled roof make this structure feel like it could have always existed in the yard.
Every inch of this property was treated as an opportunity to introduce both excellent form and function. Tucked away from the chaos of the main yard is a private spa, elevated and surrounded by wood, and still easily accessible from the main home.
Overall, we were thrilled with how this space came together. It is not every day that we get to work with little pieces of architectural history. So when we do get the chance to design for Eichler homes, we make sure to stay true to the source material while also incorporating all of the items on our clients wishlist.
From a discreet outdoor shower, to a private spa, to an elevated outdoor kitchen and fireplace, this Eichler home is now complimented by a dream backyard getaway.