Don't Rush to Remodel

Experts agree: grow into your new Eichler space—and let time bring timeless results
Dont Rush to Remodel
If your Eichler looks like the image above before you even move in, there's a good chance you're one of the hell-bent Eichler newcomers on a remodeling mission who has "missed the mark on what an Eichler is," according to our experts in the know. Haste makes waste, they say. Photos: courtesy Eichler SoCal and Modern Homes Realty
Dont Rush to Remodel
Eichler SoCal's Kelly Laule (left) and Modern Home Realty's Monique Lombardelli (right).
Dont Rush to Remodel
Men at work—but is their timing right?

Buying a home is like no other purchase in life. It's not like buying a boat, where rueful predecessors have labeled the 'buy date' as the last good day before the 'sell date.'

Your home is an acquisition to shield you from the elements, but it's also much more. It's a blank slate, almost literally a new lease on life, especially when you buy mid-century modern. It's a place to live and to be comfortable being you.

As such, many homeowners are tempted to seize this new slate and, well, immediately scribble on it without considering all the possibilities.

"I usually recommend, 'Live in it six months or a year first,'" said Kelly Laule, real state broker for Eichler SoCal based in Orange, one of two realtors we consulted on the topic who are veterans of many Eichler sales transactions and numerous remodels. "You would always do something differently because you're always learning something about your house."

"If someone's doing a full remodel [in conjunction with their moving in], they've missed the mark on what an Eichler is," said broker Monique Lombardelli, who started Modern Homes Realty in Palo Alto in 2012 with the express goal of transacting and preserving all that is most modern about Eichlers. If the new buyers are immediately doing a large expansion or adding a floor, she said disapprovingly, "They've missed it. They don't get it."

"We have people, the minute they buy it [their new Eichler], they're hell-bent," Laule said of some buyers' determination to remodel quickly. "They have a vision."

"They've already got their whole design laid out," she added. "Next thing you know, kitchens are designed, kitchens are ordered."

"Most buyers, I have found, have an immediate idea of the design they want," chimed in Lombardelli, who conceded that the temptation to rush into remodeling is somewhat understandable. "The reason they're doing the remodel is they have to live in it....Buyers want to do their own thing with kitchens and bathrooms."

Lombardelli's objection is when people tackle the project without sufficient understanding of mid-century modern design.