I have a love for architecture, interior design and mid century homes. When I have free time away from my artwork, the kids and my new favourite show "Silicon Valley", you can find me online browsing homes of people who live in incredible spaces. Sometimes the eclectic decor choices or artwork get me excited. Or if I'm looking at an issue of Dwell magazine, then it's the clean contemporary lines & the structures themselves that I find the most appealing.
Today I'm so excited to share with you a wonderful space that my new friend Laura lives in with her husband, her adorable son and their family pets. I met Laura through social media and was captivated by every image I saw of her artwork & her home. I have a thing for vintage chairs and love to collect them. Laura paints the most gorgeous oil paintings of iconic designs and retro styles. You will see some of her original work throughout the tour, but she also does prints as well. Check her out at www.laurabrowningart.com
Laura and I chatted on FaceTime a few weeks ago, I loved hearing all the details about their Eichler neighborhood and asked her to share more about how they came about living here. This is what she had to say;
Our California Modern home was built by Joseph Eichler in 1963. Eichler was one of the nation's most influential builders of modern homes during the mid 50’s through mid 60’s. A typical Eichler features walls of glass, post-and-beam construction, and atriums at the center of the house.
We initially discovered Eichler homes while driving around the Bay Area trying to decide where we wanted to move. We were planning a big move from Southern California up to the Bay Area and had flexibility with where we settled. I’ll never forget the first Eichler we toured: it was a similar model to ours, and as I walked through the front door I could see all the way through the house to the backyard…my jaw dropped. My husband and I were hooked.
The most major project we took on would have to be our floors. When we moved in our floors were a mix of linoleum, carpet and VCT tiles. After we had the old flooring removed I spent 30 straight days working myself to the bone grinding down the concrete and patching the holes left by the carpet tacks, cracks, etc. I then applied a semi-transparent stain to mask the ghosted pattern left behind by the tiles. 5 years later and our floors still look lovely, are super durable and were well worth all the effort.
We spent over a year actively trying to purchase an Eichler, it was a tough market with lots of competition. Over time, it became too difficult to drop everything and travel to attend the open houses, so we would ask my parents who live about an hour away to check out any Eichler that came on the market. This house that we bought was a foreclosure and we actually put an offer on it and got into a little bidding war without even seeing it first. At the time, it felt crazy and so risky but it has worked out so well for us.
Another project I tackled was refinishing the mahogany walls in the living room portion of our house. Ours were in pretty bad shape, likely not cared for much since the house was built. I see many Eichler homeowners that opt to replace their wood walls so I knew that would be an option, but first, I wanted to see if I could refinish ours and save the time and cost of replacing the wood. I sanded the old finish off the walls, did some patch work and then coated the wood with some Danish Oil and finished it with wax. Now they’re soft to the touch, and totally gorgeous.
The decor in our home is all very significant to us. We travel a lot (by exchanging our home with other awesome modern homes around the world) and wherever we go I love to pick up pieces that will end up in our house. Most of the pieces don’t necessarily look like they’re from someplace exotic… a white vase or a simple gray bowl that looks like it could be from anywhere… but I have this very specific memory of where we were when I bought it (and sometimes the crazy effort that went into getting it home!) and that brings us both great joy in our every day lives. When we need something and haven’t already found it during our travels, I always head to Etsy to find something that has been thoughtfully crafted (and so we can support other artists).
We have a talented friend & neighbor (redneckmodern.com) who I worked with on a number of projects around our house including new interior wood doors and hardware, new front door. Most impressively the amazing zebra-wood built in desk for my office/studio.
There was a lot of work to get the house in fully functional condition, so we spent the first few years taking care of all the major issues that surfaced (plumbing leaks, electrical problems, new foam roof, pool leaks, broken pool equipment, etc). In the past few years, we have finally been able to focus on areas of renovation that we can actually see and appreciate. There is still a lot of work we have planned (kitchen!) but are able to really enjoy our house as it is now.
There are 70 other Eichler homes in our neighborhood, and two other Eichler neighborhoods in our city. The best part of living in an Eichler was a huge surprise to us, but I’ve since heard it’s pretty common in other Eichler hood’s as well. There is an enormous sense of community here, people that have been brought together by their shared passion for their homes and mid-century design. Most of our neighbors I consider good friends and spend time with on a regular basis. One family hosts an open dinner on the first Sunday of every month, other groups get together regularly to hike or craft, or get like aged kids together for play groups. Just last weekend we had a huge block party, and we have yearly celebrations on major holidays like 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Laura and her husband have done so much work on their home, now they can enjoy this space with family and friends.
I look forward to seeing what direction they choose to go with when they design the kitchen. My husband and I have vacationed in San Francisco, looking forward to our next trip so we can see this beautiful family home in person.