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A Fairglen Eichler Home: San Jose Landscape Design Challenge

Today on the blog we are excited to go behind the scenes on another landscape design transformation here in San Jose. This project is another Eichler home, located in the Fairglen area. If you’re a frequent flier here at Water and Earth, you’ll know just how much we love designing for Eichler homes. Over the years, we have come to prioritize these homes and now specialize in transforming the outdoor spaces on these historic California properties.

If you’ve never heard of an Eichler home before, we’ve talked about these properties at length in previous posts. Long story short, Eichler homes are homes built by Joseph Eichler during the turn of the century. Their design is synonymous with the classic mid century modern style that continues to make waves in design today.

Introducing The Space

These Eichler homeowners were looking for a team that could elevate their outdoor space from a largely undeveloped yard to a dream living space that seamlessly aligned with their home. The existing space was mostly unfinished. There was existing hardscaping in the form of mismatched concrete patios. However, these installations appeared piece-mealed and were not functional for the client.

Along the perimeter of the property, a high, dark modern fence had already been built. This was one element of the property that carried over into the finished space. Aside from this detail, the rest of what is pictured above was fair game for the imagination of our design team.

Above you can see that the existing patio did not look intentional, and contained a variety of finishes and textures. It wrapped from the back entrance of the home around to the side entries. The homeowners did not have much practical space or storage, so these side areas were often blocked and not functional with the layout of the space.

All this said, the unfinished nature of the space was in some ways a blessing. Without too much going on, the architecture of the Eichler really popped. Above you see many of the traits that make Eichler homes so readily identifiable. From the wall of glass windows to the flat, slatted roof, this Eichler home was the starting point for our design board.

Above you see the classic, indoor/outdoor appeal that radiates from the timeless design of these historic homes. Eichler homes blur the line between interiors and the outdoor worlds that surround them. This in mind, we used this design ethos as inspiration to build an outdoor living space that would exist as a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living.


Every design process starts with a thorough conversation with the homeowners. What is on their wishlist? How do they see themselves using the space? What does a day in their life look like? All of these questions allow us to ensure that we are able to customize your backyard specifically to your liking. We will never try to sell you a space that isn’t custom built for you and your family. This is why client feedback and collaboration is such a crucial piece of what we do.

For this project, the homeowners were looking to update their hardscaping, add a pool, dining space, and a firepit to their yard. While their overall square footage was on the smaller size, we knew there was a way to fit all of their high priority items into the finished design. After a series of meeting and design directions, the clients settled on the renderings you see below.

The first rendering, seen above, shows the space in its entirety. The old, mismatched hardscaping is replaced by a modern grid of concrete steppers that compliment the modern angles of the home’s roof. In the left corner of the yard, we have proposed a large composite deck, fitted with a container pool. Adjacent to the pool is the new, sunken fire pit. Directly off the back of the home is the new dining patio.

As mentioned, the overall size of the client’s yard was on the small space. This posed challenges for adding a traditional swimming pool. This issue was solved by incorporating a Modpool swimming pool. This small container pool was a perfect fit for the space, and looked sleek and modern paired with the TimberTech composite decking.

In the image above you can see the firepit area has been sunk to a lower grade than the rest of the space. This funky touch echoes vintage interior design trends such as the sunken living room. In a backyard living space, this offers a distinction to spaces without causing any of the living areas to feel isolated or cut off from each other.

In the rendering above you can really see the lower grade of the fire pit. A long, linear staircase transitions the homeowners from their elevated pool deck above, down into the cozy space. From the bench seating in the corner, the clients and their guests have a full view of the home and the rest of the living space.

Finally, we are always sure to incorporate excellent outdoor lighting. Your backyard should be functional, beautiful, and accessible no matter the time of day. Step lighting illuminates the sunken fire pit, while lighting nested in the home’s overhanging roof brightens the rest of the space.

Once all of these renderings were approved, we were able to start construction.

The Finished Space

Sometimes, spaces change considerably between renderings and final images as gametime decisions can be made and we always prioritize the input of our clients. However, the design for this project looks almost identical to the renderings approved by the homeowners.

In the image above you see the sunken fire pit brought to life. Composite Timbertech decking takes shape as an extended seat bench. Long concrete steps lead you down and away from the pool and invite you to warm up around the fire. From this vantage point, you can see how everything from the lines of the design to the blend of organic and manmade materials work in tandem with the original design of the home.

In the far corner of the yard, homeowners cozy up on their brand new TimberTech deck. Sleek outdoor furniture in a dark gray and black add a modern touch, while the warm wood and soft landscaping break up any hard lines.

Above, you can see how the Modpool fits seamlessly into the decking. Its small stature allows enough room for swimmers to relax, without casting too large of a footprint in a yard with limited space. Modpool swimming pools are a great solution for clients with smaller yards who don’t want to sacrifice the luxury of a backyard swimming pool.

In the background you see another detail that helps tie the finished outdoor space in with the original architecture. The new retaining wall along the perimeter of the home is constructed with a midcentury style block, reminiscent of the traditional brick on the facade of the home.

Above, you see how the existing fence ties into the finished space. Also featured is the large tree custom fit into the deck, the homeowner’s hanging egg chair, and path lighting around the back of the home as well as the steps of the pool. The landscaping throughout the space softens the modern lines while giving additional organic touches to the clean concrete and mixed materials of the retaining wall, deck, and patio.

After construction wrapped, the owners of this Eichler home have been left with the outdoor space of their dreams. Modern, funky, and timeless, this backyard bridges the space between indoor and outdoor living with ease. Every Eichler home we work on is special, and we look forward to having a hand in stewarding many more of these historic properties into the modern day.

To see more design concepts for Eichler homes and beyond, visit our blog! For day to day updates on all of the latest Water and Earth projects, follow us on Instagram.

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