They Couldn’t Resist the Call of Home

Among many people who grew up in modern homes and returned again as adults is Bob Scari, seen in front of his Streng home in Davis with his mother, JoAnn. Photo by Dave Weinstein.

Growing up as a young girl in an Eichler home in Concord, Kerry Little didn’t get what was so special about it – at first. Yet today Kerry and her husband are raising a daughter in an Eichler. As we reveal in ‘The Re-Uppers' in the new spring ‘20 issue of CA-Modern magazine, Kerry is far from the only child of an Eichler home to wind up living in one as an adult.

“We just knew it was weird, it was different,” she says of the attitude she and her sister shared of the home, back in the days before Eichlers had been rediscovered.

No one talked about Eichlers then, she says. People felt free to add second stories without social recrimination. And as for the idea of “preservation,” Kerry says:

“The houses that were preserved, it was because there’s nothing we can do because we don’t have the money to do it,” she says.

Still, as Kerry grew older her feelings for the house changed.

“I grew to love it,” she says. “We loved the glass in the backyard where we could see squirrels and birds. We loved the atrium because it was a place that was outside but still being sheltered. It didn’t take us long to warm up to it. When we discovered there was radiant heat, we loved that.”

Kerry Little (right) and her sister, Amanda, took a while before coming to appreciate their Eichler home. Courtesy of Kerry Little.

Later, living as an adult in an apartment, she truly understood the value of living in an Eichler. She returned, buying a home with her husband not far from where her parents still live.

Growing up in a mid-century modern home, whether a Streng home, an Eichler, or some other, is a special experience – with openness, light, an atrium at times, and the mix of privacy and family areas.

That’s why it is not surprising that in any fair-sized modern tract neighborhood you will find people living there who either grew up in the neighborhood or in one that is similar.

Oftentimes their stories too are similar – but different enough to be compelling.

“Living in the homes, you knew they were Eichlers. It imprinted on me,” says Karen Johnson-Carroll, who discovered an Eichler for sale in the San Mateo Highlands when she and her husband went house hunting. She was not looking specifically for an Eichler – but walking into it, she felt the allure of returning to a place that evoked her childhood.

Kerry Little and her husband Ashith Bolar in their Concord Eichler home. Photo by Sabrina Huang.

“I walked into this house. It was pouring rain. I walked in, and I felt it was like home,” she says.

Bob Scari, who lived in two Streng homes in Davis as a boy, didn’t think much about the architecture at first – though he loved certain aspects of the place. “Those big triangular windows under the eaves,” Bob says. “I thought it was a neat feature, with the natural light coming in.”

“By the time I was going to high school I was a little more aware of it, the quality of the house,” he says.

“I came to a greater appreciation of the whole thing once I was away from them for so long,” Scari says after living for  25 years in Texas. “I looked back and thought, they were really cool, and I don’t have them anymore.”

Today he lives with his mother in a Streng home in Davis that had once been owned by a family friend.

Many relish the different experiences of living in a modern home both as a child and then as an adult, including Steve Thatcher, who says his own children had the very same experiences he had as a boy.

  Carroll Family
Karen Johnson-Carroll and husband Hal Carroll enjoy their front yard. Photo by Sabrina Huang

And Sherry Hodson, another Eichler returnee, argues that living in an Eichler can be a form of education for young people – and for adults.

“In Eichlers, they’re open,” she says. “Your mind opens up. At an intellectual level, you feel more open, you feel more creative.” About growing up in an Eichler, she says, “It’s kind of like sending your child to a progressive school. It’s like a mind-expanding experience.”

For more, read ‘The Re-Uppers,' a sneak preview of the new spring '20 CA-Modern magazine.

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