(Palo Alto, CA) Eichler Homes embody the world’s best-known California home style. These single-story pavilions, with windows that stretch from ceiling to floor and blur the lines between inside and outside, have even inspired Quebec architects like Roger d’Astous. More than 60 years after their birth, they continue to inspire excitement in California.
Posted on May 30
Seminole road. On this quiet, residential street in Palo Alto, a wealthy city in the heart of Silicon Valley and the birthplace of Stanford University, Eichler houses come and go and are not always the same.
The common points, first: the houses that offer an often colored entrance to the street, framed by wood and pillars, hide the lives of their occupants from the view of passers-by. The “voureux” will have to content themselves with the garage door, on the street side.
The differences, now: some have been renovated, updated, even expanded (with an extra floor). Others have retained the brown colors from the time of their construction in the 1950s and 1960s.
There are no fewer than 11,000 homes developed by developer Joseph Eichler in postwar California. These middle-class homes are found primarily in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, but also north of San Francisco in the Marin Hills. Today, the craze for this style of house inspired by modern American architecture is undeniable.
From the early 2000s and the return of “Mid-Century Modern” style, think about the series decor. Crazy men : teak furniture, Herman Miller chairs, open spaces and windows, or even some interiors in that’s how i love you —, Eichler houses are experiencing a resurgence in popularity.
“I remember when half of the Eichler homeowners were complaining about the problems they had in those houses (radiant heat failure, flat roofs leaking), but now everything has changed,” says Marty. Arbunich, owner and publisher ofEichler Networka magazine and support network for Eichler homeowners since 1993.
As many owners of homes with a strong architectural bias, such as Habitat 67, know, preserving and modernizing an Eichler can present a major challenge. The most common of them – the misunderstanding of this design, which moves away from traditional houses.
Think open spaces, but also small bathrooms and more modestly sized kitchens. The roof is flat and the houses respect a certain plant to preserve the privacy of the neighbors. A second floor, which can be tempting for space lovers, can offer a view of the neighbor’s living spaces, thus distorting the concept. “This lack of understanding is something shared by new owners and the service companies they hire,” says Arbunich. With no experience of this architecture and the lifestyle that accompanies it, they miss their maintenance jobs and their “remodeling”, new kitchens and additions. »
When he got his hands on his Eichler home in Los Altos, a small upscale town located near Palo Alto, in the early 2000s, Tanguy Leborgne, a French expat in the United States, decided to make as few changes as possible. possible. The house had had a single owner, who had bought it as soon as it went on the market in the late 1960s.
“The house was still in its 1968 condition and we kept all the original features,” explains Mr. Leborgne. We did not know this style, but we fell in love with it. »
Tanguy Leborgne raises his two daughters with his wife in a house that overlooks a garden with a pool and atrium. The couple decided to put their house up for sale in 2016, after the departure of their children. The house sells quickly, at higher prices, as is often the case in the San Francisco Bay Area. But the nostalgia is still palpable as they both talk about the unique lifestyle they may have had in their Eichler.
It is a dream to live in these houses. It feels like living almost outside all year round. It is a huge crush.
Virginie Leborgne, former Eichler homeowner
In the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the highest-paid areas in the United States, Eichler homes are not high-end real estate. But you still have to be ready to loosen the purse strings to own one of them, and be ready to engage in a bidding war.
It should be noted that several agencies specialize in the sale of this type of property, which is in great demand. “The average price of an Eichler in the Peninsula is 2.6 million dollars, and at that price they are not renewed,” warns Monique Lombardelli, a real estate agent on the Peninsula, who has made these houses her specialty.
Monique Lombardelli estimates that the average home market in the region is around 6.7 million dollars: “With less than 3 million dollars, the Eichlers are in a sweet spot,” believes those who have in their listings houses designed by masters of American modernity. architecture.
You are not a millionaire: you should know that these houses are also for rent, especially near Palo Alto. Based on our observations, you need to have at least $4,500 in rent for a moderately renovated house that follows one of the original plans (1,200 m2).twoa master bedroom, two small children’s bedrooms, two small bathrooms), a price that is not crazy for the region but, we will agree, is not a bargain.
We visited several last winter, in the Greenmeadow and Fairmeadow neighborhoods of Palo Alto, but also in the hills of San Mateo, a small town south of San Francisco. There is a magical side to seeing lemon trees from your bedroom; and have the impression of being outside at all times, but out of sight as the living areas face the garden.
Fans of real estate dreams can also subscribe to the newsletter of Renée and Barry Adelmann, agents specializing in modern homes. And dreaming of a very Californian lifestyle…
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