The Unlikely Eichler
Gustave Carlson Design
Even in Palo Alto—the city where the highest number of Eichlers in the US are located—this project stands out. It was custom-commissioned by John S. Lynd (an architect and personal friend of the pioneering real estate developer Joseph Eichler), and is uniquely located on a flag lot that backs into what is now a golf course.
The home is currently owned by a visionary couple who assembled a project team to adapt this remarkable structure for contemporary living—architect Gustave Carlson of Gustave Carlson Design, interior designer Jessica Davis of Atelier Davis, Kasorn Piamsukon of Groundcover Landscaping and general contractor Scott Flegel.
For architect Gustave Carlson, the home is the story of stewardship. Carlson wanted the original bones of the house to shine through and carry the dwelling into the future. Specifically, he wanted to respect the legacy of the California modern architectural experience—and this home’s strong historical pedigree—with a modern twist. In order to enhance the sense of space, Carlson removed partitions and cleaned up the interior spaces, while creating an atrium that completely transforms the living area, flooding it with natural light.
The siding, the doors and windows all play an integral role in the architecture narrative. The exterior of the house was resided using Shou Sugi Ban Accoya barn wood vertical siding, while the windows and doors are black anodized aluminum by Fleetwood. For the front door to the atrium, Carlson designed a custom designed Dutch door.
There’s a unifying palette of blues, corals, and yellows (sort of a play on primary) that can be found throughout the home, as well as a materials palette of wood, cork and natural stone that provides a literal, and figurative sense of grounding.
The house is brought up to the 21st-century with a 41-panel solar voltaic system with battery back up, and Tesla charging stations. But adapting the house for its current stewards meant creating a warm, relaxed and welcoming family home for the couple and their four daughters, and paying homage to the couples’ European ties—a mudroom with custom cabinetry designed by Carlson is a nod to the husband’s British roots.
Significantly, the homeowners are patrons of emerging women artists in particular, and their collection contains about 90 works, including a 12-foot long mural by Salt Lake City-based Mariel Capanna. Completed during the artist’s five-week residency (unplanned due to California going into lockdown), the mural was done in the centuries-old buon secco technique, and features images inspired by everyday objects from the family’s life.
The mural is located along a hallway that Carlson designed for that sole purpose; while in the project room, Carlson designed a Donald Judd-inspired, wall mounted storage unit. This house beautifully melds architecture and art—an outcome that Joseph Eichler may not have intended, or even wildly imagined.