Escape from the Bay - Page 4

From Boise to Sacramento to Portland—flight paths that lead to modern living without sky-high prices
Escape from the Bay
Streng home exterior in Davis (top), Eichler in Sacramento (above).
Escape from the Bay
A beautiful Streng atrium.
Escape from the Bay
A mid-century modern spotted on a home tour in Phoenix, a city that continues to attract "a huge influx of California people."

Then it was Glynn's birthday, so they were off to Reno. But wait. Why not stop on the way to meet with a realtor and see a few Strengs in Sacramento?

They fell in love with the first house they saw. "Wow, we really like the house," Glynn remembers saying. "But could we make the move to Sacramento?"

Probably not. After all, Glynn planned to work another two years before retiring. And Nancy had no plans to retire at all. Who needs a 90-minute commute?

"But we couldn't get this house off our minds," Glynn says. So the day after that birthday weekend, both took off from work, drove back to Sacramento—and made an offer.

"I thought, I could retire a little earlier," Glynn says, "and Nancy would commute to San Francisco part-time."

They sold their home in Oakland for $625,000, and paid $329,000 for a low-gabled model in a neighborhood of Strengs.

The affordability of the home was important, Nancy says. "We refused to make a stupid decision," she says. "We didn't want to be mortgage poor. It led us here."

"Because we were ready to retire, we took on a more leisurely way of living in Sacramento," Nancy says. "With the heat and the swimming pool, we enjoy being outside, and we're close to the mountains and to hiking."

"Downtown [Sacramento] is really changing quickly," Glynn says of a city once dubbed a cow town. "It's a fun environment, new clubs and restaurants. The city has quite a nice urban vibe now."

Their Citrus Heights neighborhood has seen much architectural renewal in recent years, similar to the way many Eichler neighborhoods in the Bay Area had gotten rediscovered years ago.

Glynn says he and Nancy surveyed the neighborhood before buying and liked what they saw. "We've met other people here who are in love with the Streng homes as we are," he says.

And more are coming. "There are people moving in who have hunted this neighborhood for quite some time for homes to come open," Nancy says.

Another hunting ground attracting mid-century bargain hunters is Portland, where, Dane Kealoha says, nice, smaller Rummer homes can be had in the mid $700,000s. One larger Rummer recently hit a record, selling for $875,000, he says.

Kealoha says well-preserved Rummers do better on the market than the many that have been "butchered."

He notes that Portland has other modern neighborhoods, "but generally not as modern as the Rummers," and a good collection of custom mid-century modern homes, that are generally larger and can go for well over $1 million.

Beth Howard, who sells real estate through Portland MidCentury, says a majority of people seeking modern homes there are from Northern or Southern California.

"They know and appreciate the mid-century modern, and they are trying to get something cheaper," she says. "I'm from the Bay Area myself. I moved up for the same reason, to be able to afford a house."

Phoenix, where a nice, three-bedroom modern home also sells in that range, has been attracting "a huge influx of California people," Shawn Beaird of Urban Luxe Real Estate, says.

Offerings include a handful of small, mostly "quiet modern" tracts, he says, with "floor to ceiling glass, clerestory [windows], low-sloped roofs with exposed rafters and beams."

There are also custom homes by architects well known in the area, which can sell for $1 million and much more.

Closer to home, Southern California retains undiscovered tracts of mid-century modern homes that remain relatively affordable, in the $600,000s—not in the Hollywood Hills or the West Side, but in the suburban San Fernando Valley and Orange County.

Some were designed by top architects, including Jones & Emmons, who also worked for Eichler. Many have suffered over the years from neglect of their architectural style.

Still, as folks who have been watching the mid-century modern revival over the past decade can attest, even neighborhoods that have forgotten their heritage can reclaim it—often thanks to the love brought in by newcomers.

Back in Boise, Andrew Templeman is enjoying "keeping our home authentic." He loves that Boise is a "thrift store mecca" where treasures can be found. He dislikes the winter weather, and finds himself a lot more liberal than many of his neighbors—particularly those outside of Boise.

Neither he nor Randee have given up what he calls "our mid-century modern dream of living in California." He adds, "I miss California and plan to go back."

 

Photography: Andrew Templeman, Randee Cole, Guinevere Cameron, David Toerge, Adam Michaud of New World Industries, Dave Weinstein, Heath Ashli Taranowski, Darwin Fan, Robert Couse-Baker, Justin Smith, Carl Warmouth, Eric Prado, Shockhits, Brocken Inaglory

 

STORY RESOURCES

TJ Pierce
Mid-Century Homes - Boise
Mid-centuryhomes.com

Steve Streng
Streng Realty - Sacramento
Strengrealty.com

Ted DeFazio
Sac Modern - Sacramento
Sacmodern.com

Beth Howard
Portland MidCentury
Portlandmidcentury.com

Dane Kealoha
Selling PDX - Portland
Sellingpdx.com

Marisa Swenson
Modern Homes Portland
Modernhomesportland.com

Shawn Beaird
Urban Luxe Real Estate - Phoenix
Urbanluxere.com