If you’re a regular reader of our design walkthroughs, you may have noted particular excitement when it comes to working on homes or properties with notable history. We’ve had the good fortune to be part of more than one Eichler home outdoor transformation, and today we’re bringing you another.
If you aren’t familiar with the historical background of the Eichler home, we encourage you to read through our previous posts on the subject. However, for the sake of today’s blog, here’s a little bit of background.
Eichler homes are homes that were part of the iconic real estate developer Joseph Eichler’s effort to bring modern homes to California in the 1950’s and 1960’s. A result of the now iconic mid century modern architecture style made famous by peers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Eichler homes are jewels that are instantly recognizable to most CA locals with a little bit of architectural knowledge. Our team feels inspired each time we work with one.
Introducing The Space
Today’s Eichler home is located in the Castro Valley community. The home itself is a classic Eichler design–one story with large windows, and classic midmod lines. The outside space, however, was a blank slate.
The front yard was very small, offering little square footage. The backyard was much larger, containing a long retaining wall and plenty of room to get creative. The footprint of the backyard was unique. Many outdoor spaces are a variation on a rectangle of square. This home was situated on a lot that formed a long, right triangle.
When it came to outdoor living, these homeowners were looking to completely modernize their space. They were interested in plenty of outdoor living space, a fire pit, outdoor kitchen, and a spa. With this, they wanted to retain a decent amount of usable green space.
Using these requirements, we created a design that captured all of the client’s must-haves while elevating the functionality and style of the space. We were influenced by the clean lines of the home, as well as the natural environment. The result was a final design that both our team and our client’s were equally excited about.
The Final Design Concept
After talking through design concepts with the homeowners, we settled on a final direction for their outdoor space. The concept plays with material as well as elevation, creating distinct spaces that flow seamlessly while operating as separate functional areas.
Above you can see the final design concept presented in 2D. Here, the triangular shape of the back yard is especially pronounced. Stepping out of their home, the clients immediately arrive onto a covered concrete patio. To the right, a series of concrete steppers creates a harmonious transition to the concrete pathway that leads the clients around to the front of the home.
From the initial back patio, the homeowners step up a level onto a brand new, elevated deck. Central to the deck is the new spa, cordoned off by cedar surrounds. In front of the new spa is a fire pit, which supports a large covered pergola. This configuration allows the clients to relax by the fire while enjoying a spa soak at the same time.
From the deck, the homeowners step up down into their lawn, before continuing up another set of stairs to enjoy another patio, and another luxury fire pit. This space is distinguished by a seatwall, designed to form a right angle and giving the space plenty of available seating. Forming an additional border between this elevated patio and the deck is the outdoor kitchen, which can be accessed from the deck, letting the client’s cook and have a conversation with guests relaxing in any area of the space.
Around the entire yard you can see the planting plan, which softens the modern lines of this home while adding much needed color as well. In the small front yard, the concrete patio is echoed again. A focal point of the front yard space is the decorative rock garden, which hides the front walkway from view.
After getting approval on the final design, we took this Castro Valley Eichler home to the 3D rendering stage. While we stress the importance of 2D design, there is nothing quite like presenting a design to a client for the first time in 3D. This is the stage where the project truly comes to life.
In these renders, you can clearly see the previously discussed elevation changes. What looks flat on paper has sprung to life. From the raised and covered deck, to the elevated patio and the lower lying backyard, you can imagine relaxing around the fire, or entertaining friends.
Above you can really see the materials and design of this space come to life. Good design is always in conversation with itself, and the spaces in this backyard are doing just that. From the light color palette in the concrete and wood, to the matching cedar spa and pergola support, each element flows into the next.
Even the front yard shows obvious links to the backyard living space. The concrete patio and driveway are softened by more native landscaping. The walkway, previously an exposed curve, is now tucked behind a retaining wall creating amore private feel. The backyard has been guarded from view by a new swinging gate, keeping passing eyes out of the homeowner’s private space.
Above, you get a closer look at the elevation changes within the space. From the ground level patio, the homeowners step up a level onto their new, covered deck. Already elevated above the rest of the yard, guests looking to get away from the bustle of the main entertaining space can climb the series of stairs to get cozy around the destination fire pit.
Finally, the no backyard is complete without a little bit of green space. Seen above, this design retains the perfect amount of lawn for kids, pets, and adults alike. The previous retaining wall is now gone, replaced with a matching concrete retaining wall and planter.
A Historic Home with A Modern Twist
At the end of the day, we think all of our projects are special. But there is always something uniquely exciting about putting our design stamp on a little piece of history. For this Eichler home in San Jose, we created an outdoor living space that only accentuated the home it surrounded. The result is a space full of fun, function, and plenty of cozy nooks and crannies to unwind.
Looking to see more projects like this? Read about our other in-process designs, including more Eichler homes, on our blog. Whether you’re on the hunt for design inspiration, or are looking for answers to a burning outdoor design question, we’ve got you covered.
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