Eichler Homes: Bringing Mid-Century Modern to the Masses


Within the Fifties and Sixties, actual property developer Joseph Eichler constructed 1000’s of houses in California that have been designed to convey fashionable structure to the lots. These postwar houses are identified for open inside areas, fashionable design, and entry to the outside. They have been progressive houses that launched open ground plans, giant home windows, indoor-outdoor dwelling areas, and carports, all at a really reasonably priced value. At this time, these houses outline the mid-century fashionable type and appeal to patrons from across the nation.

Whether or not you’re on the lookout for a starter home in Oakland, CA, or a perpetually house in Sacramento, CA, an Eichler house is price contemplating. Right here’s all the pieces it is advisable learn about these homes, from their historical past and distinctive options to their lasting design and social impacts. 

An authentic Eichler in Palo Alto, CA

What’s an Eichler residence?

Eichler houses are excellent examples of mid-century modern structure. Often that includes uncovered wooden, giant home windows, open ground plans, and an natural connection to the panorama, these homes standardized a brand new high quality of dwelling that was beforehand solely accessible to the rich. 

“Eichler houses redefined suburban design and way of life and let a rising center class take pleasure in purposeful, trendy houses.” – MacKenzie Cain from Stratagem Construction

The houses have been typically half of a bigger improvement filled with bushes, parks, and neighborhood areas. Not like different developments on the time, every residence had a novel appeal and didn’t look an identical to the home subsequent door. “They have been architectural masterpieces that helped outline how we reside right now,” says Natalie Alchadeff from Hero Brokers of Real Estate. “Architecturally, they function publish and beam development and use the identical supplies inside and outside for a cohesive look.” 

At this time, Eichlers are sometimes thought-about artwork items. As such, many homeowners have stored their houses untouched, whereas others have completely up to date them with fashionable facilities and home equipment. 

The place have been Eichler houses constructed?

Joseph Eichler constructed about 11,000 houses all through Central and Southern California – over 10,000 houses within the San Francisco Bay space and practically 1,000 extra round Los Angeles, Orange County, Thousand Oaks, and Granada Hills. He capitalized on the booming post-war financial system, constructing high-quality houses for 1000’s of latest middle-class residence patrons. 

These days, most remaining houses are within the Bay Space. Additional south, “The Balboa Highlands neighborhood of Granada Hills is the final remaining improvement in Los Angeles County,” says Sue Kline from Santa Clarita Home Source and Balboa Highlands. “It options 108 homes constructed between 1963-64. The houses are protected by the Los Angeles Conservancy to take care of the unique structure.”

“Eichler houses weren’t only a residence, however have been a way of life,” says Dave Schuster from the Schuster Real Estate Group. “They introduced communities collectively and created a brand new ease of dwelling. These days, you possibly can construct Eichlers anyplace so long as you may have creativeness.”


Historical past of Eichler houses

From the primary prefabricated residence in 1947 to submitting for chapter in 1966, let’s be taught extra in regards to the historical past of those influential homes.

Historical past of Fifties suburbs 

As suburbia sprawled out within the Fifties because of low-cost housing and development together with GI invoice advantages for returning service members (primarily accessible to white veterans), many individuals have been instantly in a position to purchase a house. Many cities and cities inspired folks to maneuver to suburbs, creating deliberate communities and developing highways to attach them to town. 

Due to the excessive demand and low price through the postwar growth, homes wanted to be mass-produced. The most typical alternative amongst builders (notably Levitt and Sons) was the suburban ranch-style house, which rapidly grew to become the norm for Fifties households. That they had an open ground plan, have been low to the bottom, and had loads of yard area. Nonetheless, due to their assembly-line manufacturing, they often lacked high quality and have been usually an identical to neighboring houses. Additionally, they have been often zoned, constructed for, and bought to solely white communities.

The primary Eichlers

After dwelling in a San Francisco home constructed by the famend architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Joseph Eichler fell in love with fashionable design. He additionally noticed the advantages of low-cost, easy-to-build housing and needed to enhance the design and constructing high quality whereas conserving it accessible to everybody. Eichler based the Eichler Houses firm and labored with Modernist architect Robert Anshen to design the primary Eichlers. The first homes have been prefabricated for house owners to construct on their tons, however he wasn’t glad with that method and selected deliberate, reasonably priced communities as an alternative.

Between 1949 and 1966, he developed over 11,000 houses as a part of deliberate developments throughout the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles suburbs. A central a part of his developments have been socially-integrated neighborhood areas, together with parks and neighborhood facilities. He was the primary large-scale builder to promote to minoritized people, even constructing a house on his non-public lot for an NAACP chief. His social views, particularly his non-discrimination coverage, led to his resignation from the Nationwide Affiliation of Realtors after they refused to assist him. 


Eichler houses regarded pretty unusual to folks on the time. Ultimately, nonetheless, they grew to become cornerstones of Modernist structure. They have been additionally remarkably reasonably priced at solely $10,000$46,500, roughly $110,000 – $509,000 in right now’s forex. In response to his success, different builders sprang on the chance to construct low-cost, fashionable houses (known as “Likelers”). Whereas not as in style, they helped outline the well-known California Modern type. 

The ultimate years

Following the success of his houses, Eichler expanded into each luxurious and sponsored multi-family housing. Sadly, this gamble didn’t appeal to an already small quantity of renters. That, together with delayed returns on investments, longer completion schedules, and complex allowing processes, led his firm to file for chapter in 1966. 

At this time, Eichler’s are nonetheless thought-about high quality houses and appeal to patrons who need to reside the mid-century way of life.

An Eichler residence in Granada Hills, CA

What do Eichler houses seem like?

Eichler houses have open dwelling areas, giant home windows, skylights, and fashionable, nature-inspired structure. They all the time use “clear traces, muted curves, small home windows often dealing with the doorway, and huge home windows dealing with an out of doors area within the again,” notes Linda Green, REALTOR with United Real Estate. “They function a front-to-back design, with public areas in entrance and dwelling areas within the again.” To separate area with out including partitions, they function front-to-back planning that places dwelling areas behind the house.

Should you’re questioning whether or not a house is a true Eichler (and never a “Likeler”), search for these options:

  • Small home windows that face the road and huge home windows that face the yard
  • A recessed entryway with broad, low-gabled roofing
  • Wooden exteriors, entrances, and paneling created from redwood or mahogany
  • Uncovered, widely-spaced posts and beams
  • Constructed-in furnishings and home equipment
  • A middle courtyard and a big, brilliant roofed atrium
  • Open-concept kitchen, eating, and dwelling areas, generally with glass partitions
  • Unobstructed views of the outside

“Taking a cue from Frank Lloyd Wright, Eichler integrated natural design into reasonably priced houses, says Nicole Crocker from Classic Home Improvements. “The houses featured clear traces, expansive home windows, open areas, and distinctive rooflines, all at an accessible price.”

Jennifer Okhovat from Jenny Okhovat Homes additionally provides her tackle true Eichler’s. “A real Eichler may have small home windows dealing with the road, basic post-and-beam development, and floor-to-ceiling glass home windows within the rear of the home that look out onto patios and yards,” she says. “Certainly one of Eichler’s signature ideas was to convey the skin in. He did this with out of doors atriums within the heart of the house, flat or low-sloping A-framed roofs, skylights, and clear geometric traces.” 

According to Eichler, he needed to construct “well-designed homes with a way of ethical function.” His homes redefined how households lived, prioritizing sustainability, nature, performance, and long-lasting attraction. Notably, he introduced folks collectively in new methods via the distinctive ground plan and accessibility to the outside.

Typical Eichler residence ground plan

Most Eichlers have related ground plans. They’re round 2,000 sq. toes and have 1-4 bedrooms, 1-2 loos, open-concept dwelling areas, out of doors areas, multipurpose rooms, and a storage or carport on the entrance of the house. They’ve an “abundance of uncovered wooden and huge, open areas,” says Allison Van Wig from Van Wig and Associates. “Nonetheless in style right now, mid-century structure embodies the laid again way of life that California is thought for.” 

Moreover, Eichler houses popularized the main bedroom, bringing extra attraction to new dad and mom.

An authentic blueprint of an Eichler residence

Eichler residence renovation concepts

Should you personal an Eichler or need to incorporate mid-century fashionable design into your private home, learn on for design and renovation ideas straight from the specialists.

“Main renovations or remodels are tough, particularly if you wish to be loyal to the unique idea. Additionally, some neighborhoods will be very protecting of the unique mid-century type, which means you will not be allowed to make any adjustments.” – Bob Hinz, Proprietor of HomeWrights Custom Homes

“Should you’re redesigning your Eichler residence, think about minimalism in your plans. Daring assertion items like giant crops or sculptures are customary in mid-century fashionable houses. Deal with the fundamentals with a couple of equipment to finish the look. To maintain the design clear, attempt to keep away from muddle; this helps the open dwelling area communicate for itself.” – Eric Sztanyo from Team Sztanyo

“Should you’re trying to change your home windows, select one thing that compliments the straightforward look. Keep away from busy patterns and use one thing that matches with the remainder of your private home’s structure. Lastly, be sure you herald as a lot pure gentle as potential.” – The staff at Homefix Custom Remodeling

“Due to their distinctive design, it may be laborious to renovate an Eichler residence. Roofs are particularly difficult due to their low pitch and outdated constructing supplies. Should you’re on the lookout for a roofing contractor, ask about new applied sciences, waterproofing capabilities, and the way carefully it should look to the unique type.” – The staff at 619 Roofing


Why have been they so in style?

Distinctive type, novelty, affordability, communities, a sublime expression of structure, bringing modernism to the lots

On the time, builders constructed houses to look an identical to at least one one other to make them simply replicable and get monetary savings on constructing prices. Eichler houses modified that by bringing a particular, fashionable type and making it accessible to a median home-owner. Surrounded by nature and neighborhood areas, folks fell in love with their houses and built-in communities. This type of structure redefined how middle-class households lived and the way homes ought to look. 

Knowledgeable recommendation: what makes Eichler’s distinctive? 

Eichler houses have been distinctive for his or her atrium-style entrance, glass facades, and the multipurpose room subsequent to the kitchen. Should you’re trying to purchase a home, preserve these in thoughts. – Elizabeth Burton, designer at Sandpiper

What makes Eichler houses so costly?

The primary Eichler houses price simply $10,000, together with furnishings and home equipment. They have been priced under their worth due to the postwar infrastructure growth, suburban craze, and Eichler’s need for affordability. In response to Margo Follbaum from First Choice Realty, “they bought rapidly within the Sixties. At this time, they promote even faster.” 

These days, Eichlers can promote for over $3 million, 30,000% greater than their preliminary value of $10,000. That is primarily due to a renewed curiosity in mid-century fashionable type, their location within the expensive Bay Space market, their distinctive qualities, and their standing as collector’s gadgets. 

The price of several types of Eichlers

Eichler’s typically fall into three classes: authentic, up to date, and extensively upgraded. Unique and extensively upgraded houses command the very best value however make up the smallest share of remaining Eichler homes. Most Eichlers have been slowly upgraded because the Fifties and are usually not price as a lot as the opposite two sorts. 

The Eichler neighborhood

Due to their distinctive design, Eichler developments often attracted artists, engineers, architects, and researchers. Individuals typically liked their houses and believed them to be the way forward for household dwelling.

At this time, individuals who reside in Eichler houses are fiercely loyal. Many have restored them to suit their authentic designs, changing all the pieces from door handles to taps. These Eichler communities convey folks collectively, sharing contractors, actual property brokers, plumbers, and furnishings corporations specializing in Eichler design. They consider that Eichler houses are greater than fashionable homes, but in addition a philosophy of dwelling.

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