Project: Truly Open Eichler House
Architects: Klopf Architecture
Project Team: John Klopf, AIA, Geoff Campen, and Angela Todorova
Landscape Architect: Arterra Landscape Architects
Structural Engineer: Brian Dotson Consulting Engineers
Contractor: Flegels Construction
Photography ©2014 Mariko Reed
Location: Palo Alto, California
Year completed: 2014
Klopf Architecture, Arterra Landscape Architects, and Flegels Construction updated a classic Eichler open, indoor-outdoor home. The Truly Open Eichler house is a remodeled single-family home in Palo Alto. This 1,712 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom is located in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Our client, Andrea Metkis, a cancer surgeon, is excited to talk about the project and would be happy to be interviewed and photographed in her home. She was looking for a very modern house for her family and found an Eichler with a lot of potential, but not in a great condition. She looked to John Klopf to turn it into the house of her dreams because of his extensive experience with Eichlers.
The original concept for the house centered around two “wooden boxes,” that housed the private spaces in the home, that were connected by a large, open, glass walled space for gathering and entertaining. Inspired by the original walls of glass and connection to nature, Andrea and John brought Vera Gates of Arterra into the team to draw a strong connection between the interior and exterior and create a series of outdoor rooms.
John expanded on the openness of the original glass walls by switching them out for glass Nanawall panels. The glass walls on both sides of the living/dining area now fold entirely out of the way, transforming the space into an open air pavilion. A courtyard on one side has a seating area by a blue tiled fountain with an unobstructed view to the firepit on the other side of the great room.
Before the remodel, there was a fireplace in the center of the glass wall. According to John Klopf, “Our original design called for removing it, but the owners really wanted to keep a fireplace. Sometimes Eichler fireplaces are pretty massive, and often they’re right in the way of the view. That was definitely the case in this home, but as adamant as we were that it should go, they wanted to put nice tiles on the fireplace and keep it anyway. It was one of those situations in a design project where both sides understand the other, still disagree, and in the end the owner gets their way. Enter the landscape architect Vera Gates and her design. She understood what we were going for: a “truly open” sense of the house, so suggested removing the fireplace and replacing it with a firepit in the yard that would be more usable and social.”
The firepit now anchors the outdoor living room. A low concrete wall defines the space and creates the feeling that the edge of the living area has been been pushed far outdoors. The fire and cozy seating area draw the family into the garden.
The roof extends past the folding walls to help blend the interior/exterior divide while adding shade and protection from the rain. Cedar siding wraps the two “boxes” of the house on the outside, switching to smooth white stucco in the courtyard. The courtyards’ stucco matches the drywall of the interior, making them feel like an extension of the interior space rather than the exterior of the house.
The front of the house contains the garage, kitchen and powder room and the back is the bedroom wing. Klopf Architecture moved the kitchen away from the entry toward the social center of the home, where it now opens up onto the outdoor dining room. They also came up with a creative way to add a powder room off the kitchen. The door is hidden in the kitchen cabinetry, so it maintains a “kitchen” appearance, and doesn’t look like a bathroom door right off the kitchen. The master bath was opened up with a glass wall to the private back yard because the owners wanted to feel like they were showering in the garden.
The house exceeds California’s Title-24, and all lighting is LED. The house is much better insulated than before, reducing the need for heating to a minimum. No cooling system is required or installed. The heating system is radiant in-floor for better indoor air-quality.” Information and photos received via email from Klopf Architecture.