Spring Issue Looks at Yesterday & Today

The spring '17 issue of CA-Modern will take readers on a trip back in time and will demonstrate that designs and lifestyles rooted in the mid-century are part of our lives today.

At the Eichler Network, we are used to moving back and forth in time – and so, we believe, are most owners of Eichler homes. We research, write about, photograph, and rhapsodize over homes that were built between 40 and 60-plus years ago – but in ways that focus on their value for us today.

In our spring '17 issue of CA-Modern, this journalistic form of time traveling is much in evidence, starting with our useful cover story ‘Timeless Blend,’ about mixing mid-century and contemporary furnishings to create a wonderful living environment for people today.

In the article, writer Tanja Kern makes clear that as striking as it may be to walk into a home that is furnished like a museum, with Eames’ chairs and Noguchi tables, “embracing contrasting periods, and blending period with contemporary furnishings, can give your home a level of beauty and interest that having everything from one period cannot.”

“When you mix new [contemporary] productions with vintage, you are bringing warmth into a space,” one Berkeley retailer of vintage furnishings suggests.

Kern’s story, which brings in the voices of people who live in Eichlers in the Bay Area and Sacramento, also provides useful tips for integrating different styles, colors, and textures -- and for focusing attention on interesting individual pieces.

Leo Schlocker may be 90, but he remains a kid at heart. He's got a model train setup in his backyard and this attractive display in the front. Photo by Sabrina Huang

In ‘Aged in Comfort,’ San Jose Eichler owner and author Cathye Smithwick writes about some longtime owners of Eichler homes who love their homes so much they just stay – and stay. We meet Maryhill Gleason, who just turned 100, Tracy Gibbons, and other long-timers – who make clear that Eichler homes can be ideal places for aging in place.

The article shows that many Eichler owners glean this fact even when they are young and first looking for a home. It’s a way of seeing into the future. They understood from the beginning, as general contractor Ron Key tells us, that “the very design elements that are inherent in Eichlers are the things that now are architecturally being designed in [new homes in general] for accessible living.”

Maryhill Gleason continues to enjoy life in her Sunnyvale home, where she has lived for 50 years.

“Energetic, with a twinkle in her eye, she finds peace these days sitting in her Eichler living room looking out on a lovely garden,” Smithwick writes. “Gleason is the embodiment of Eichler-owner independence as she reminisces about her global travels during and after World War II, and her years as the first woman to help build missiles at Lockheed Martin, where she worked on the Polaris, Trident, and Poseidon submarine programs.”

More than a celebration of growing old in the home you love, though, the article provides helpful tips for ensuring that it can be done comfortably. We learn, for example, about changes Tracy Gibbons has made to her bathroom, and the article includes a breakout, ‘Ready or not: are you set for aging in place?’

A mural designed by Jean Varda and executed in mosaic under the direction of Varda's friend and colleague, Alfonso Pardiñas, can be enjoyed at the Union City BART station.

In considering the present in relation to the past, it’s worth remembering that all too often we forget. Two of the historically minded articles in the spring issue focus on how significant slices of mid-century modern history have been forgotten right here in the Bay Area.

Our goal with these stories is to restore these important aspects of the mid-century modern story to history.

In ‘Painting the Town,’ we delve into the colorful work and equally colorful life of Alfonso Pardiñas, the Mexican-born ceramicist who bathed so many buildings in the Bay Area and Northern California with mosaic glass tiles.  

The work of his firm, Byzantine Mosaics, can be seen on many banks, apartment houses, churches, and throughout the BART stations.

But over the years, while his work has remained in view, the man himself has been forgotten. That’s a loss, because he was a high-profile figure – who died a sudden death that shocked his many friends.

As we write in the article, “From the mid-1950s to the day of his sudden death 20 years later, Pardiñas was at the center of San Francisco’s Bohemian scene, palling around with such artists as local luminaries Benny Bufano and Jean Varda, with whom he collaborated, and architects for whom he worked, including Bob Anshen and Steve Allen, who designed homes for Joe Eichler.”

In ‘Marincognito’ we reveal to the world that Marin County, home to so many Eichler homes, is also home to mid-century modern neighborhoods that have been largely forgotten – even by people who really care about such things.

Marcia Rey and Mac Johnson enjoy life in their Alliance home in Terra Linda, a neighborhood that sits alongside its better-known Eichler neighbors. Photo by Sabrina Huang

Did you know that Anshen and Allen created homes in a small mid-century modern tract in Novato for a developer other than Eichler? Or that these were upscale homes, complete with a “kitchen of tomorrow,” full modernist landscaping – and some with pools?

Or that the great ranch house designer Cliff May and his partner Chris Choate designed their modernist mini-ranch homes for two neighborhoods in Novato? Many people who live in those homes are not aware of their heritage either.

In our spring '17 issue of CA-Modern – which went into the mail April 15 to our homeowners – we also visit the Alliance homes of Terra Linda, which are built alongside the more familiar Eichler homes. But the Alliance homes have a history and allure all their own. Like Eichler homes, they are not relics of history – but wonderful places to live in today.

How can you artfully blend furnishings from today with those from the mid-century? 'Timeless Blend' has useful suggestions.

Reader Comments Box