Amazing Colossal Eichlers!

Inside Joe’s original two-story homes—rare beauties that don’t upset neighbors
Two-story
Betty Toole and her two-story Eichler original.
(photo: David Toerge)

Most folks consider the super-sized, second-story additions that mar Eichler neighborhoods to be monstrous. But Eichler himself built about 50 two-story homes—and many are beauties!

Consider Betty Toole’s mid-1960s home in Marin County’s Strawberry Point. It seems more like a custom than a tract house, with Heath tiles in the entryway, a paneled front door, and artfully shaped stairway balusters—all original.

The home has tall walls ideal for hanging art, and a wonderful interweaving of spaces between upstairs and downstairs, inside and out. Toole’s bedroom is an open mezzanine looking down onto the living areas, with its 20-foot ceiling. She uses an upstairs deck to sunbathe.

Unique indeed. “The only other one like this is the penthouse of the Eichler tower,” Toole says, referring to the famous Eichler Summit on San Francisco’s Green Street. She learned that, she says, from Eichler architect Claude Oakland.

Second-story additions in Eichler neighborhoods are reviled for being out of scale and impinging on their neighbors’ privacy. But the Eichler two-story originals, built only when site constraints ruled out single-story plans, generally avoid these faults through clever positioning.

Want to hear more about Toole’s two-story, which offers a scenic view of Richardson Bay? In fact, here’s a tour of several Eichler two-stories, via our brand-new spring ‘12 CA-Modern issue preview—‘Two with a View.’