Eichler Home—A Modern Backyard for a Classic Sunnyvale Eichler Home
Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Introducing The Space
We love every project we get the chance to work on. But some properties hold a special place in our hearts, particularly those with unique or rich history behind them. So when we get a chance to work on an Eichler home, we jump.
What is an Eichler home? Here’s a very brief rundown. In the 1950s and 60’s, real estate developer Joseph Eichler was a primary real estate builder bringing modern homes to California. Eichler worked with notable architects of the time to bring over 11,000 of these homes to the area. The homes were inspired by classic Mid-Century Modern architecture, taking after the now infamous style and designs of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Eichler homes are almost instantly recognizable for those who are familiar with them, and are an enduring piece of design history throughout the state. Suffice to say, when we get invited to renovate an outdoor space for an Eichler home, we say yes.
When we arrived on this property, there were a few things we noted immediately. The first and most prominent was a now filled-in swimming pool, seen above. While the homeowners were told the pool had been removed entirely, the remaining coping made it pretty clear to us that the contractors had simply drilled holes for drainage and filled it in.
This improper removal made the renovation project more complicated, as we wanted to give the homeowners a new pool for their outdoor space. Other notable elements of the primary space included the raised elevation along the back of the property, as well as the large windows overlooking the backyard from both the master bedroom as well as the living space.
Conceptualization and Revisions
The homeowners were looking for most of the elements that many of our clients want. A modern pool, room to relax with friends and family, outdoor seating, etc. They were looking for a modern, funky design that complimented the architecture of their main home.
After speaking with the clients, we presented two, 2D concepts. If you’ve read our blog post about why we present design in 2D first, then you know it’s important to us that homeowners see designs in 2D before 3D renderings are made.
Not only does it prevent clients from feeling overwhelmed, but it helps homeowners to visualize how the design can change, and how they will move through the space. We’ve found it’s easier for people to give constructive feedback when they feel they have room to make adjustments, rather than hitting them with the finished complexity of modern 3D designs.
In concept A, we made the swimming pool a focal point, building most of the design around a larger, central new pool. Off the house you see decking, raised an inch or two to meet the home’s elevation. In front of the pool is some low landscape, breaking up the eye line as the homeowner’s look out their windows into the backyard space.
Around the perimeter of the property, you see a newly planted raised bed, designed to address the higher elevation at the rear of the property. The initial deck wraps around the side of the pool and runs parallel with the back of the yard. The deck provides extra room for seating or hanging out by the pool.
The pool itself is a long, rectangular design. Towards the back right corner, the pools juts out. This rectangular addition to the pool’s central design features a tanning ledge, or baja shelf. To highlight this area, we proposed a waterfall or water feature which recycles into the pool.
To the right of the pool you can see a large paving patio with a floating bench at the rear corner, leaving space for a proposed outdoor dining area. As the homeowners move back toward the home, they run into a large concrete steppers that take them off of the patio and back indoors.
For our second concept, concept B, we decided to take some of the focus off of a large pool. In this design, it no longer takes center stage, but rather has been redesigned into an abbreviated L-shape to hug the back left corner of the property.
The tanning deck and water feature from the first design remain, relocated to the far right end of the pool. Once again, raised landscaping finished the raised elevation at the back of the property. Another remaining element from the first design is the deck, which runs here along the entire back edge of the home.
Next to the pool is a large paver patio not unlike that of the first concept. A floating bench lines the back of the patio, creating natural gathering space for an added fire pit. As in the first design, the patio leads the homeowners through the design, back towards the house. The pavers from concept A are absent here.
Revisions and Final Concepts
After discussing both designs with our clients, they decided they preferred the flow and design sensibility of Concept B. To help bring it to life, we created another 2D rendering, this time in color.
The clients took some time to think about the design, and while they loved it, they ultimately decided that the flow of the space wasn’t quite right for them. A unique design element of Eichler homes is their beautiful, large, floor to ceiling windows.
The clients of this Eichler home had concerns about the pool being located directly off the master bedroom, and wanted the design to cater to more privacy for that indoor space.
Feedback such as this is why we love leading with 2D designs. The flexibility and ability to envision themselves moving in the space lets our clients figure out what is and is not working for them, without feeling too tied to a specific layout or concept.
In the end, we decided to tweak the design to fit their layout concerns, and move forward with 3D rendering.
Once we decided on the layout, we moved forward with rendering their design. In these renderings, you can see the relocated pool in the back right hand corner. The pool’s sun shelf has been replaced with a tanning plank, creating an L-shape. The water feature has moved along the backside of the pool, and is finished with Bobe scuppers and a waterfall.
In the back left hand corner of the space is the paver patio, sunken to create an intimate seating area and finished with a modern gas fire pit. In front, space for outdoor dining.
Also seen in these renderings are the new raised concrete beds, creating privacy and finishing the raised elevation at the back of the property. The deck wraps around the house, punctuated with more concrete planters which catch the water from the home’s existing rain chains.
Final Design Changes
Before we send any design into construction, we are sure to finalize all details of our design from placements to materials. In this case, there were just a few small tweaks made to the proposed 3D renderings before we broke ground.
The composite decking, though loved by our clients aesthetically, was not a completely practical choice for the space. The homeowners were worried about the surface growing too hot. To accommodate this, we changed materials for a thick, Techo Bloc paver. This addressed our client’s concerns without losing the elevation we loved from the composite decking.
Another small revision is to the water feature wall. In this rendering, we removed the Bobe scuppers and waterfall. In their place, we added industrial pipes and new tile.
Construction for this project is currently underway, and we’re incredibly excited to share the finished images once work wraps up. It’s not every day that we get to work on a piece of history like this Eichler home.