Joseph Eichler: Modern Home Design for the Masses

The term “tract housing” evokes, for many, the image of suburban sprawl and conformity. Many tract subdivisions are uninspired and banal, cookie-cutter neighborhoods that give little thought to aesthetics. Sprinkled throughout California, however, there are a number of housing developments that cut against this preconception. The residential communities constructed by Joseph Eichler in the 1950s and 1960s brought modern home design to the masses and introduced an appreciation for architectural innovation to tract housing.

Joseph Eichler had little exposure to real estate or home design in his early life. He was not an architect or a builder; he was, first and foremost, a businessman, and that enabled him to recognize an opportunity. He received a business degree from NYU and worked briefly on Wall Street before helping to manage his father-in-law’s poultry business. In 1940, Joseph moved out to San Francisco to assist in the West Coast expansion of the family business. Soon after World War II, a family scandal (the details of which are now, unfortunately, lost to history) forced Joseph Eichler down a different career path. He began developing prefabricated houses on individual lots in northern California. His natural business acumen, sharpened by years in the competitive wholesale food industry, put him in a good position to take advantage of the post-war demand for suburban housing in a manner unique to the progressive tastes of northern California

While in the Bay Area, the Eichler’s lived in the Bazett House, a Usonian-style dwelling in Hillsborough, CA, built by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright. Joseph Eichler had always had an appreciation for design, refinement, and modernism, but the years he spent in the Bazett House illuminated the possibilities of modern architecture for him. Modern architecture embraced clean, simple lines and understated elements that allowed the personality of the owner to shine through. Until Joseph Eichler, these styles were reserved for custom residences and corporate buildings. Eichler teamed with Robert Anshen, an architect fresh out of the University of Pennsylvania, to develop plans for residential developments that harnessed the simplicity of modern home design. Anshen, himself greatly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, brought the artful harmony of space and structure while Eichler ensured that these were easily reproducible and cost-effective. They started small, with a 50-unit neighborhood in Sunnyvale, CA. It sold out in two weeks. By the time Eichler passed away in 1974, he had built 11,000 homes and popularized modern home design on the neighborhood scale.

Eichlers, as the style has come to be known, are single story residences made mostly of glass and wood. The homes blur the distinction between interior and exterior space, to take advantage of the temperate California weather. Eichlers are designed around open-air atria with floor-to-ceiling glass walls facing the backyards that connect the inhabitant to the environment and give the inhabitant a feeling of being cradled, rather than encapsulated. Many of the neighborhoods developed by Joseph Eichler are now designated areas of historic significance, ensuring that the groundbreaking home design concepts he popularized are preserved for future generations to call home.

Minimalist Home Designs

Minimalist home designs are often chosen by house owners these days to refurbish or build their properties, because their simple and seamless style makes their abode more comfortable and relaxing. Minimalist design is influenced by the Japanese art elements of clean lines and open spaces. It doesn’t support elaborate features, clutter, and unnecessary items that take up space.

If you’d like to apply this principle on your own house’s architecture, you have to focus on being simple and keeping things at their most natural state. You should choose a flatter roof and more open spaces. Try avoiding a roof structure that has a steep pitch. For your interior house design, if you need to have a private space, try avoiding permanent walls and use a shoji or a sliding door, instead. In this way, you can still have an open space when you don’t need an enclosed area.

Flooring should go with the simple and natural theme. Wood is often the choice for this style. You can still have stone tiles, but refrain from the shiny types. Muted stone tiles in earth colors would be best.

Wood beams, walls, and countertops should be left in their barest look. If the item is of wood material, the most you should do is have it stained to bring out the natural beauty of the wood. Stone countertops should just be polished also to bring out the grains and specks of the material. Metal items should also just be polished and not painted.

Minimalist home designs should have an overall look that’s spotless and effortless. When choosing paint for the walls, you can still veer away from white, though. But you have to stay with the neutral shades like beige. The strongest color you can pick is a pale shade of terra cotta. The guideline in selecting colors for this type of design is to remain creating the feel of open spaces. Colors that make an area feel enclosed should be avoided. The idea is for your home to be in harmony with nature. You can add mirror doors for a modern twist, if you wish.

Windows are also crucial in creating open spaces in minimalist house designs. Large sliding windows are ideal. If you need to use blinds, select those made of bamboo or wood or those that are of neutral color. If you prefer to use curtains, don’t use ones with floral or ornate prints. Choose those with sheer materials, preferably of white, beige, sand, and other neutral hues.

These are just some ideas to help you have your own home in the minimalist look that you want. You can add in your own concepts to add personal touches. Simply keep in mind about open spaces and being one with nature and you won’t go wrong.

Best Contemporary Home Design

Contemporary home designs are very different from traditional designs for homes. Traditionally, the space available for homes was very abundant and bulky furniture and intricate interiors were the main features of the houses. With the passage of time, houses have been changed to being designed for nuclear families with less space. With the space being an issue, furniture that requires too much room cannot be used and too much of intricate designing of the interiors will look too showy. Hence, modern houses have contemporary furniture that isn’t too heavy and that makes the home look more spacious.

The furniture used in such homes is generally very easy to maintain, sleek and classy and at the same time durable enough to last for a long time. The most striking features of the modern designs are the simple look with minimum clutter. Since there isn’t too much room for furniture in such houses, they are made attractive by coloring the walls with a combination of light colors with a splash of one or more vibrant colors. All the furniture used must provide comfort and at the same time require least space and look stylish. Small houses look great with a modern form of designing.

One of the most important aspects of modern designing is the optimum utilization of available space and using furniture having multiple uses. For example, the bed must have a low platform and along with that, it can have a storage compartment. This avoids the storage of things in places like lofts, etc which do not look elegant. Another example of such utility is to use desks that are formed by making use of stylish console tables. The use of a sofa bed can solve the purpose of a sofa during the day and a bed during night time. The beds could also metal designed requiring least space and giving maximum comfort.

Contemporary home designs put to use economical yet elegant lighting in the house. Instead of the traditional system of using chandeliers, low power consuming LED lights are used. This solves the purpose of lighting up the house stylishly and the same time consuming least power possible. The lights in the living room can be sleek and simple to complement the simple furniture. Those of the kitchen should be put in areas like above the sink and on the top of the counters. This gives a very light feel to the environment.