Eichler and the American Dream: Bringing the Outside In
A survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) revealed 64% of architecture firms report that their clients express an increased interest in outdoor living spaces. Although Americans may be spending less and less time outside, they still need proximity to a green and living world. Eichlers, with their glass walls and atriums, satisfy this need handily.
Although a few Eichlers exist in New York, developer Joseph Eichler built designs primarily for California and hired architects that believed in integrating the home into the surrounding environment. While floor plans of Eichlers may differ, they contain common elements that expressed Eichler’s desire to bring sunny California climes into his homes.
The key element of “bringing the outdoors in” is the central atrium found in most Eichler homes. Newcomers are startled – and delighted – to learn that stepping inside an Eichler often means stepping outside into a private secluded open atrium. While some homeowners use this space as little more than a second front yard or extended foyer, others develop the atrium in unique and fascinating ways, such as a private Japanese garden, an area where yoga enthusiasts perform the sun salutation outside in complete privacy, a space for parties and even outdoor home theatres. For those Eichlers in which bedrooms open onto the atrium, it serves as an extended living space and has the effect of opening the world for those that live there.
The atrium isn’t the only element that satisfied Eichler’s desire to bring the outside in. Huge windows that double as walls grace the rear of many Eichlers. This has the effect of opening the kitchen and the spare room to the backyard. While Eichler kitchens tend to be small, they never feel small because your gaze is invariably on the world outside. Opening the rear of the home to the outside makes it easy to keep a half an eye on small children playing in the back yard. Moreover, the flow of energy from the kitchen to the backyard makes dining on the outside deck a regular year round option.
Well-placed skylights and transoms systematically bring the outdoors in. Hallways that would otherwise be dark become bathed in natural light, which complements the wooden tongue-in-groove ceilings, natural wood and post-and-beam construction. Even the formal dining room found off the kitchen in many homes receives natural light flooding in from the kitchen.
The magic of an Eichler is that all these elements combine with a closed front to make the outdoors yours. The closed front of the house gives the sense that the external concerns are far away. You go home to an enchanted world that opens outside, but leaves unwanted problems on the front curb. In that sense, Eichler created an charmed world for young families of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s to grow up. While some other modernist approaches often feel cold, Eichler’s emphasis on bringing the outside in creates feelings of expansion, warmth, and growth. The wisdom of that approach is reflected in their enduring appeal and enhanced value.
As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have, or if you are looking for the perfect Eichler Home for you! Contact us
Article written by our contributing writer: Megan Winkler