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Remodel in progress - Highlands Eichler

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Joined: Sep 12 2003

I am taking offers on original eichler components from my home. I am completely updating my home and will be getting rid of the paneling, kitchen, windows, etc (everything). If you are interested let me know very soon (this project is under way).

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Joined: Aug 30 2003

jclark, please email me at bbrisco@totheweb.com, I am a Highlands Eichler owner who is interested to learn where you are located in the neighborhood and what model (floor plan) your house is.

Thanks,
Barry

1959 A. Quincy Jones atrium model in The Highlands, San Mateo http://www.totheweb.com/eichler

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

I may be interested in some of your items. Please email me -- eichfan AT rawbw DOT com

Thanks.
Jake

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: Mar 30 2003

I'd also like to have your e-mail address. I'm looking for original lighting - for bathrooms especially, but also two of the hanging globe lights.

Tracy
tsvincent@aol.com

Tracy
Castro Valley

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Joined: Sep 12 2003

My email is jason_clark@sbcglobal.net.

There aren't any original globe ceiling lights (I guess the original owner replaced them). Over the weekend, I sold off the panels and door knobs. The only things left are in the kitchen, and the cabinets are not part of it (want to use as storage in the garage after the remodel).

Jason

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Joined: Mar 24 2003

since when is destruction of a home with original components considered "updating" to me this is downgrading.

just my 2 cents.

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Joined: Sep 12 2003

megamail wrote:
since when is destruction of a home with original components considered "updating" to me this is downgrading.

just my 2 cents.

Reading your profile, I noticed your interests are "Martinis, Music and Modernism!" Does modernism include grounded electrical, and fire retardant drywall (opposed to explosive mahogany paneling)? I'm not leveling my home, I'm updating it. I enjoy Eichler architecture, but not the liability an "original" home brings (especially with young children).

Enjoy the SOCAL bro.

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Joined: Sep 24 2003

dear megamail,

why don't you get into you microbus and race up here at 40mph smogging the coast before all the old eichler crap is gone. shouldn't you be saving the whales? nice of you to bring your criticism into a friendly chat room. jerk.

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Joined: Mar 24 2003

explosive mahogany paneling! were the doorknobs dangerous, too?

now you are just making me laugh! exactly why DID you buy an Eichler?

and eichlerbra - lighten up.
i have made numerous (currently at 27) mainly helpful and encouraging posts here.

you have.... um.... exactly 1 unfriendly post to me.

your very first post here and it has to be be one calling me a jerk? is that how you want start your relationship here by flaming? my comment was merely an observation that many other Eichler preservationists have voiced.

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Joined: Mar 24 2003

jclark wrote:
...will be getting rid of the paneling, kitchen, windows, etc (everything).

hmmm... getting rid of "everything" ... all the details that make an Eichler an Eichler and not just another Mid Century Modern home...

you said it, not me.

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Joined: Aug 28 2003

In my experience it is very hard to find all the original Eichler pieces that make an Eichler an Eichler. I was finally able to find two original door knobs in a neighbors spare parts collection but never found the lights I was looking for. I love my Eichler but wanted to replace the horrid country kitchen that was installed by previous owners and wasn't able to find the sliding cabinets or find someone who would make them. So I compromised.
Here are the results. http://www.fitchfamily.org/Tod/Eichler/Kitchen/

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Joined: Apr 26 2003

Leslie:

Congratulations on a very tasteful kitchen remodel. It looks great. :)

Jeff

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Joined: Sep 12 2003

megamail wrote:
explosive mahogany paneling! were the doorknobs dangerous, too?

now you are just making me laugh! exactly why DID you buy an Eichler?

megamail,

Glad I could make you laugh. It's fun discussing these topics with such an openminded individual.

I find your use of the word "preservationist" an oxymoron while describing a home.

Definition of the word "home":

1) A place where one lives; a residence.
2) The physical structure within which one lives, such as a house or apartment.
3) A dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it; a household.

We should preserve forests and coastlines. Homes are where families are raised. They are places that are considered safe and comfortable.

Good luck at the flea market this weekend. Hopefully you'll find a nice plaster of paris surfing monkey or velvet Elvis picture to compliment your surroundings.

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Joined: Mar 24 2003

Leslie wrote:
In my experience it is very hard to find all the original Eichler pieces that make an Eichler an Eichler. I was finally able to find two original door knobs in a neighbors spare parts collection but never found the lights I was looking for. I love my Eichler but wanted to replace the horrid country kitchen that was installed by previous owners and wasn't able to find the sliding cabinets or find someone who would make them. So I compromised.
Here are the results. http://www.fitchfamily.org/Tod/Eichler/Kitchen/

I know how hard it can be to find those eichler parts, Leslie. And your home is such an incredible example of how to restore an Eichler in the spirit of the house! I don't think you compromised at all. Your place is awesome. I always rave to everyone about your beautiful home.

-------
jclark.

Suppose I bought an original Shag painting with blue undertones. but wanted to put it in an orange kitchen. Should I just repaint the background over Shag's work with some orange paint? Yah - of course it's my perogative, cause I bought the thing and own it. But still it would be a shame.

Or suppose I had an Ansel Adams photograph, but had the Yosemite Lodge airbrushed in (because it wasn't built yet when he took the photo). Now would this be updating or downgrading the photograph?

When you buy an Eichler - you are not just buying a 'home' as you put it. You are buying into a community of "architectural" homes. BIG difference. Architecture IS a form of art. So being an Eichler preservationist is not an oxymoron when speaking of an Eichler, Neutra, Schindler, Case Study House, Gregory Ain, Steel home, F.L. Wright, A.Q. Jones, Irving Gill, Ellwood, Palmer and Krisel, Goff, Lautner, Alexander home or numerous other architectural homes. Educate yourself a little bit more before you post again... Check out
http://www.laconservancy.org/preservation/YourModernHome.html
and
http://www.architectureforsale.com
Why do you think there are at least 3 major websites that offer advice on how to preserve and protect Eichlers? Not to mention all the fan sites people have for their original condition homes.

Not everyone is lucky enough to find an Eichler with (what sounds like you had) so original elements left in it. Yes, there are times where the formica is so shot you can't repair it, the plumbing and electrical need to be brought up to code, the paneling is so waterstained it is irrecoverable, the fixtures are rusted beyond restoration. BUT that is different from ripping stuff out just cause you want a different look. Which is what it sounded like when you mentioned getting rid of paneling, doorknobs, windows, cabinets, "everything..." Of course i don't know your individual situation and condition of your home - but getting rid of "everything" sounds suspect. If the items were unrestorable or unrepairable - why offer them to the board?

I am curious, you are a new poster here... how long have you owned your Eichler? And please try and respond without being insulting again. at least i think you were insulting me? Unless you really do think i'm open minded and like black velvet paintings and SOCAL? I sure do... the climate is great here. And I actually tried to buy a black velvet Elvis in Tiajuna once - but the dealer wouldn't budge on price ;) Maybe i'll go back with more cash next time?

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Joined: Sep 12 2003

Alright megamail,

I think this will be my last addition to this thread.

You keep referring to architecture. Let's stick with that theme. I am fully committed to keeping the Eichler architecture (inside and out). I have spend a good deal of money and time with an architect to make sure I keep the Eicher look and feel. I am totally uncommitted to dark paneling. I think you're saddended that I'm not staying with the sixties components inside, and this is where we differ in opinions.

I'm going to great lengths to modernize my home, yet keep aspects of the original interior theme (Scavolini cabinets, large round interior lamps, tile, etc.).

In my opinion, it would be absurd to sink hard-earned money in to making the home "brand new 1960's." I am looking forward to a modern kitchen, white walls and new energy efficient windows.

I would send you final pics, if I could count on you sharing your opinions rather than stating them as fact.

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Joined: Mar 24 2003

jclark wrote:
Does modernism include grounded electrical, and fire retardant drywall (opposed to explosive mahogany paneling)? I'm not leveling my home, I'm updating it. I enjoy Eichler architecture, but not the liability an "original" home brings (especially with young children).
...snip...
I am fully committed to keeping the Eichler architecture (inside and out). I have spend a good deal of money and time with an architect to make sure I keep the Eicher look and feel... I am totally uncommitted to dark paneling.

If you owned a Frank Lloyd Wright home would you insist on removing the custom furniture made for the homes claiming they aren't part of the architecture? Or would they need to be "updated" because they're uncomfortable and old? When in fact, they are again part of the architectural/historical fabric of his homes.

Did you know that Eichler was primarily inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright? Eichler did not have any previous interest in the arts or architecture. He was wholesale butter & egg business CFO. But when he lived in a Wright house, he quickly became a devotee of the Modern aesthetic and decidied to bring these concepts to the masses. The FLW comprehensive interior/exterior integration of space and built-ins was part of his vision.

I'm happy when people re-do homes that have already been altered (or in a state of ruin) - in hip modern ways - There have been some terrific homes done which express the Eichler feeling reborn again. But when the originality, i.e. the "historical integrity" is still there, and yet still being destroyed for the sake of fashion in this day of enlightenment, well that's different. The kitchen cabinets and paneling and light fixtures are part of that Eichler historical fabric. End of Story.

A number of Eichler homes qualify for the National Register of Historic Places - this is because their interior elements as well as their exteriors are intact - they are both considered important.

Even on this site - Updating is defined as: "Renewing the original concepts and materials" A Full Remodel is defined as: "Replacing concepts and materials with compatible contemporary ones, and reworking the space..." This sounds more like what you are doing, "...completely gutting the kitchen and creating something new."

Lastly, you have vacillated in your posts - first claiming the "updating" was primarily for "safety" and family concerns. Then in this last post, you mention spending time and money on an architect - that sounds like you might be doing additional alterations (for safety right?) and you were looking forward to new white walls.

But you also say you aren't "committed" to the dark paneling... sorry, but that's just not updating - that's fashion.

You did not answer my questions - why did you buy an original condition Eichler and how long have you live in it?

I am sure your new "remodel" will be just beautiful and the pictures will be lovely. I just wish that people who intend to spend the time and money to modernize these homes would buy the ones that need to be brought back from the dead, not the ones that are still original and need to be restored.

I again reiterate what I said on my first post...
Since when is destruction of a home with original components considered "updating?" To me this is downgrading.

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Joined: Sep 24 2003

jclark,

please stop egging on this genius. you are obviously outmatched in the grand eichler arena. good luck on your project and I am interested in some of your hardware for my eichler dog house to match our woodshed.

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Joined: Apr 10 2003

After the flaming battle that took place and the more thoughtful posts after it. My 2 cents-go ahead and update the Eichler with what it seems would be appropriate-sheetrock, updated electrical (for fire protection)
energy efficient HVAC (whatever the case may be as far as FAH or radiant) appliances and fixtures, newer energy efficient windows. I think what everyone seemed to think was that you were turning it into a mega faux Tuscan Mansion (like we need anymore on those!) I am aware that in some neighborhoods mansionization is taking place and people are very vocal about it, when someone moves into a neighborhood and sez damn you all I'm gonna mansionize and you can't stop me! Well in some places THEY CAN, if one is gonna buy an Eichler or any other home with a provenance or heritage, it isn't gonna kill one to do a little research first and if you want to modify they will be prepared for what one might do with one's property-look at the other posts with threads of HPOZ districts for sources. One good thing (and this was demonstrated in OC Eichler home tour) it that you can update appropriately and still keep that Eichler look, your home could be a showcase for what is possible-one updated OC
Eichler on here (or is it the So Cal site) was an award winning mag cover pic. Enough of my 2 cents, and the coolest house in all So Cal is the Case Study House 22-Stahl House.

Wishing for modern home.

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Joined: May 1 2003

jclark,

As a fellow owner of a home/architecture of historical significance I sympathize with the need to improve in the case of electrical, plumbing and the like. However, your comments, as megamail notes, do seem contrdictory. You can not claim to be committed to the Eichler architecture "inside and out" while altering the the original interior details of your home. Those details make up the original architecture to which you attest your commitment.

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Leslie:

Nice job on the kitchen remodel. Thanks for sharing. We lived in terror (and without a working cooktop) for 2 years before getting the nerve to remodel our original kitchen. I had nightmares about loosing the charm of our home and therefore chose to do nothing until we were certain of the solution. We were fortunate enough to have the original cabs and thus were able to reface them, but I did have a new island built to match the original, but with more features.

Jclark:

I am with you. If Eichler were building today, he would not be using the same materials. A lot can happen in the way of industrial materials and design in 40+ years. To imply that replacing many of the original elements in your home is somehow, by definition, disgracing it is ridiculous. I guess we just have to ignore the few tacky participants on this site -- You know the ones I am referring to -- just looking for ways to demonstrate their self-righteous personal agendas. I, for one, say "life is too short..."

Cathye

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

cathye:

If Eichler were building homes today, what kind of materials would he be using? Much of what Eichler's architects put into kitchen design still makes sence today when regarding affordable modernism (formica counters, vct flooring, plywood modular cabinets). I doubt if Ole Joe would have been installing granite counter tops and slate floors. He could have then, and didn't. As far as cabinets go, most of what you see today in laminated particle board. At least the original ones were plywood, a premium today.

Remember, he was building tract homes, not custom luxury homes. The sick thing about today's tract homes is the finishes are all faux to look like to real crap going into custom homes!

I agree with megamail in that "updating" is often downgrading!

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Joined: Aug 28 2003

Quote:
Leslie:

Nice job on the kitchen remodel. Thanks for sharing. We lived in terror (and without a working cooktop) for 2 years before getting the nerve to remodel our original kitchen. I had nightmares about loosing the charm of our home and therefore chose to do nothing until we were certain of the solution. We were fortunate enough to have the original cabs and thus were able to reface them, but I did have a new island built to match the original, but with more features.

Cathye:
Thanks for your comment.
I know the feeling about getting up the nerve for remodeling. We did over two years of research, and looked at everything in a modernist vein that would work within the Eichler aesthetic.
I couldn't have done this if it weren't for Met Home magazine, (a lovely gift from our relator who specializes in Eichlers!) Dwell magazine, Ikea (for ideas about useful kitchen organization), and of course this informative web site. :)

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Joined: Nov 11 2003

I'm actively involved in motorcycling and have spent some time dealing with antique bikes. In many ways, the restoration process for older motorcycles is analagous to restoring an old Eichler. In places where the older technology works, use it. In places where improvements can be made in the underlying technology without destroying the general look and feel of the original, use the new stuff. If I was replacing a slider, I don't feel particularly tied to going out and buying an Arcadia. However, I'm not going to go out and hang a palladian window shod door in the front of the house either. There are degrees of change that will allow you to retain the original intention.

Homes are dynamic structures. They get lived in and modified to suit the tastes and desires of the owner, not the other way around.

That said, I don't begrudge folks that want to maintain or restore their Eichler to original spec. It just doesn't do it for me. I will, however, modify our home to suit our desire, while remaining true to the spirit of modernism that Eichler strove for.

Megamail, I admire your zeal to maintain your home to original spec. I don't, however, admire your pedantic posts to someone that wants to modify their home.

dave

Dave & Tina Swider
Lower Lucas Valley
San Rafael, CA

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Joined: May 1 2003

Dave,

Nice post. I agree with most of your comments. However, I would ask this question. Review the first post of this thread. If you were to elect to restore or rebuild/modify an antique bike, would you pursue a totally original bike and then replace its original parts with newer technology/systems or would you look for a bike with good bones that had lost some or all of its originality and then rebuild/restore the bike to your liking?

For those who would care to 'update', modify, or remodel these homes it would seem that there are plenty with 'good bones'

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Joined: Nov 11 2003

sdmod wrote:
Dave,

Nice post. I agree with most of your comments. However, I would ask this question. Review the first post of this thread. If you were to elect to restore or rebuild/modify an antique bike, would you pursue a totally original bike and then replace its original parts with newer technology/systems or would you look for a bike with good bones that had lost some or all of its originality and then rebuild/restore the bike to your liking?

For those who would care to 'update', modify, or remodel these homes it would seem that there are plenty with 'good bones'

Looking at the list of things he tossed, lights, panels and the like, it's not clear whether the walls were scratched/damaged/moldy or the like. As in motorcycles, original doesn't always mean the part is restorable. To answer your question, I'd look for a bike with as many original parts as possible so I knew where I was starting. From there, I usually evaluate the components to determine whether they're actually usable or not. Good stuff stays, bad stuff goes. But overall, the bike still looks as close to the original as possible.

To explain my perspective, we've removed a lot of the original paneling from our home for one reason: fire safety. The original panels were glued together with glue that contains sperm whale oil, which is highly flammable. The combination of 40 year old wood and a flammable adhesive holding it together is not what I'm comfortable living with. In our neighborhood, two homes have burned.

I am comfortable with the layout, design and flow of this home. I'll never be able to live in a "standard" home again. But I don't think that cosmetic upgrades in keeping with the original intent of the design are necessarily a bad thing. The tricky part is that Eichlers have lots of little details that are usually lost when these homes get modified: rounded corners on the wall edges, no moldings on the doors or windows, simple clean design with a minimum of fuss in the individual components. Thin and small baseboards. No carpeting.

If one can modify a home and honor these original design schemes, I don't believe the home has been downgraded at all.

But I think ultimately, the decision is the owner's and the owner's alone and to rail on him here isn't appropriate.

dave

Dave & Tina Swider
Lower Lucas Valley
San Rafael, CA

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Joined: Apr 26 2003

I apologize in advance for not letting this thread die a peaceful death, but I feel that I need to offer another opinion.

Even though Eichlers are representative of a unique period of our architectural history and contain many unique architectural details in and of themselves, we must first remember that they are not just houses, they are homes.

They are to serve a function. People live in them, and the house must accommodate the needs of the people.

It is not a painting that looks pretty on a wall.

If we carry forward the antique motorcycle analogy, we are talking about a bike that will be used daily, on today’s roads, using today’s fuels, today’s fluids, and must be maintained with the materials available today. Given that this motorcycle is not a museum piece, but a useful piece of machinery that must be relied on to get you from point A to point B and back, safely, you want to make sure it is as reliable as possible.

The same is true for the Eichler house. It has to serve our needs today. We (at least I) cannot afford to keep a half a million dollar (probably more, actually) piece of property as a museum piece to be gazed at from afar.

The house must adapt to my needs. I need enough electricity to power my computer, my microwave oven, swimming pool, hot tub, video games, stereo, TV, VCR, DVD player… and all those other “necessities” of living today.

There are also so many options out there for building materials. It is now affordable to use marble, granite, and limestone. Why have Formica when there are so many other choices?

Eichler selected materials such as Formica countertops, vinyl/asbestos tiles, etc. because they were affordable and available and were appropriate for the affordable tract houses he was building.

Eichlers are not the “affordable” tract houses they once were. They are now perceived as high end houses in valuable locations. It is now appropriate for them to have higher end materials, not only to meet the aesthetic concerns of the owner, but also to meet the owner’s functional requirements, which can include seamless countertops for ease of cleaning, stone or tile flooring to better allow the transmission of radiant heating, double paned windows for safety and for energy savings, and foam roofs for energy savings and comfort.

I certainly would not berate anyone for not taking advantage of the options available today and living in an “original” Eichler. And, I certainly would not berate anyone who chose to “upgrade” their home with new materials while keeping the modernist and Eichler aesthetic in the design.

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Joined: Nov 11 2003

*clapping*

dave

Dave & Tina Swider
Lower Lucas Valley
San Rafael, CA

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