Classic Meets Contemporary: Modernizing the Eichler

Classic Meets Contemporary: Modernizing the Eichler


An architectural process from the mid-twentieth century has been getting the TecHome treatment from builders eager to blend classic design with contemporary technology.

The “Eichler Home” describes a Modernist design model conceived and built by U.S. real estate developer Joseph Eichler. From 1949 to 1966, Eichler and his company constructed over 11,000 homes in Northern California, spread across nine communities, as well as in three Southern California communities.

These uniquely designed homes began to be deemed “Eichlers,” and many companies over the years have mirrored this Modernist enterprise. Innovative features of the Eichler home include post-and-beam construction, glass walls and open floor plans.

Eichlers also boast a signature concept of “bringing the outdoors in,” using skylights and large glass walls or windows to achieve this. The designs of these homes create something that is at once open, modern and buoyant, while ultimately crafting a stylistically satisfying home for the owner.

RELATED: Indoor/Outdoor Tech is Essential to LUX Living

Eichler windows are large and open.
Eichler windows are large and open.

Eichler Homes and Builders: Present Day

Eichler homes are still prevalent today in many Northern California communities. The Highlands of San Mateo, California is the primary Eichler neighborhood, with over 700 homes.

Builders, such Cindy Carey and her husband of Starburst Construction, have turned modernizing Eichlers into a specialty during the last five years of their 40 year business. The couple uses home technology to update the classic homes for today’s marketplace.

Their focus has been on energy efficiency and home automation, while at the same time never sacrificing the appeal that Eichlers possess in their look and style. 

“What customers look for with the remodels is modern convenience,” says Cindy Carey, co-owner and COO of Starburst.

“Our customers bought the Eichler because they happen to love the style. They love the feeling of bringing the outdoors in. They love being able to upgrade without changing the aesthetic of the Eichler.”

Upgrading with Tech: Energy Efficiency

As aforementioned, the Carey’s upgrade with energy efficiency and home automation in mind.

For the former, Starburst insulates all exterior walls which, provided they were not originally built this way, is a big step for the home. They seal all framing, trying to close as many penetrations as possible, while also installing double-paned windows.

For energy efficient tech, Starburst is always aiming to upgrade the boiler or even install a tankless water heater.

“We had one instance where we even used solar to power a boiler, which then also heated domestic hot water,” says Carey. 

An example of a high-tech Eichler doorbell/intercom.
An example of a high-tech Eichler doorbell/intercom.

Upgrading with Tech: Home Automation

On the home automation side, Carey says “you name it.”

“Eichlers love their little buzzers,” says Carey, in reference to an original feature in the Eichler model. Starburst had updated this to a modern doorbell and remote control for allowing entry to the home.

Additionally, nearly two-thirds of Starburst’s Eichler clients request electric-powered screens and shades, considering the large glass walls and windows cause the home to become very bright and warm.

“That’s become extremely popular, because Eichlers tend to get warm, especially in the summer. If they’re insulated properly, they’re actually pretty consistent,” says Carey.

Carey says that Starburst tends to hardwire everything unless otherwise requested by the customer. Other connected upgrades to the homes include electrical renovations and enhanced entertainment.

A Community Mindset

Not only will all of these modern features create a more pleasant place to live, but Carey says that upgrading tech will better promote a community mindset that was greatly appreciated by Joseph Eichler himself.

“Joseph Eichler was super community oriented and his intent was not only family oriented but neighborhood oriented. So, in many of his neighborhoods he built a community pool and clubhouse,” says Carey. The idea was that the neighbors would get to know each other and hang out with one another at their houses.

“Being able to have all the new TVs and tabling and sound systems and all that make a better experience for the neighbors and the community, so they can still continue that community spirit.”

The Careys aren’t the only Eichler upgraders on the market today. In fact, The Eichler Network lists over 50 builders who utilize similar practices in their business.

Check out the slideshow below to see Eichler homes, their unique designs and modern upgrades.


[tps_title]We Like Eichler[/tps_title]

An Eichler living area. Notice the open windows.
An Eichler living area. Notice the open windows.
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About The Author

Greg Vellante is a staff writer and multimedia specialist at TecHome Builder, as well as a content coordinator for AE Ventures events. He has over a decade of experience writing for various publications on topics that range from cinema to editorials to home technology. His favorite technologies fall into the A/V and home entertainment realm, and he’s keeping a close eye on the rising trends in robotics and virtual/augmented reality. Greg resides in Boston, holds a degree in Media Studies from Emerson College and pursues screenwriting/filmmaking in his free time.

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