Two with a View - Page 2

Often misunderstood, Eichler’s original two-story homes are a rare breed that startle some, but surely please their owners

“I think the real benefit of a two-story, you really get a variety of views,” says Toole, who’d previously lived in an Eichler in Marin’s Lucas Valley. “With a one-story, we didn’t.” And Strawberry, where all the Eichlers sit along the shore of Richardson Bay, is a great place to take in views.

Eichler two-story on Terra Linda's Beechnut Court.
Eichler two-story on Terra Linda's Beechnut Court.
Model SM-3 two-story in San Mateo Highlands.
Model SM-3 two-story in San Mateo Highlands.
Bob Crosby's Eichler two-story on Yorktown Road in the San Mateo Highlands
The front elevation of Bob Crosby's Eichler two-story on Yorktown Road in the San Mateo Highlands.
Crosby in his at-home wine cellar.
Crosby in his at-home wine cellar.

Double-height living provides another opportunity for views, Toole points out—internal views of her expansive art collection, which she has room to hang thanks to oodles of wall space.

She enjoys another aspect of two-story living—the built-in exercise device. “You’re always running up and down,” she says of the stairs, which in her home have a surprisingly traditional look, though they are original, with closed treads and a wooden banister. “Physically, I think it’s beneficial.”

In the San Rafael neighborhood of Terra Linda, Ted Bloyd and Julia Smetana enjoy their view on Butternut Drive, less spectacular though it is. “What’s nice is, everything else around us is one story,” Julia says. “We do have a view, which is nice.”

Terra Linda has 13 two-story homes in all—including 11 on nearby Beechnut Court and a one on adjacent Las Ovejas Avenue. The Bloyd-Smetana house, from 1959, is the only example on Butternut.

Bloyd and Smetana, lawyers both, raised two boys and a girl in the home. Their upper story, which contains living areas and a kitchen, has glass walls on both north and south faces.

“I love that you can look through the house,” Julia says. And their four downstairs bedrooms stay cool year-round. “Even in summer,” Ted says, “downstairs it never gets much above 60 degrees.”

Despite the glassiness, their home suggests a mountain cabin thanks to warm wooden walls. Ted credits the first owner. “He waxed the walls annually,” he says. “That’s why the mahogany is still in good shape.”

On Beechnut, Leo Maginnis and his family bought a double-height model before the cul de sac was built, in 1961. The owner of a single-story Eichler nearby, he wanted a larger home to accommodate in-laws.

“The Eichler salesman,” Maginnis recalls, “said, ‘Well, we have plans for an Eichler. I know this isn’t what you want. But look at it. We want your ideas. We know you’ve lived in an Eichler. What’s good about it? What’s bad about it?’

“My wife liked the view. I liked the house.”

“We can do it,” Maginnis told the salesman.

The house, like several near-identical models in the neighborhood, has all the living space on the top floor, with garage and storage beneath.

Tara Maginnis, his daughter, loved growing up there because the home provided wonderful views of the valley.