Finding Mid-Century Modern and Eichler Homes in Silicon Valley’s West Side

Mid-century modern homes, including those designed by Joseph Eichler, dot the Silicon Valley & South Bay Area real estate landscape.  There are probably more than 5,000 Eichlers in Santa Clara County altogether, plus all the other homes of that genre with the similar modern style, which was influenced by the ranch and prarie styles as well as the dramatic work by Frank Lloyd Wright (open beam ceilings, nearly flat roofs, lots of exposed wood & glass windows stretching from the floor to the ceiling).  Eichlers, especially, put a premium on privacy from the street but open to the outdoors otherwise.

Not every community in Santa Clara County has Eichler homes, but most have the mid-century modern style homes & neighborhoods. These homes vary from tiny, modest cottages of 1100 square feet to large & elegant  houses of nearly 3,000 square feet, featuring big, central atriums or courtyards.  (There are also some co-ops in the valley too.)  The quality varies, as the homes were constructed by several different builders with different home buying budgets in mind.  Real estate prices range from “entry level” to very expensive, depending on the location (city and schools), size of the home & lot, and condition of the property. Most of them are now about 50 years old, though some are a little younger.

Some of the West Side Silicon Valley Communities which feature Eichler and Mid-Century Modern Homes

In Los Gatos there are no Eichlers but there are a small handful of single family homes which are mid-century modern on Eastridge Drive (just off Blossom Hill Road and Hillbrook). There are a couple more at the end of Magnuson Terrace (off Magnuson Loop and Los Gatos Blvd).  Additionally, there are some smaller mid-50s homes on El Gato (and adjacent portions of Escobar) off of Los Gatos-Almaden Road. Unfortunately, not all of these homes are “well kept”, though many are.

An Eichler home in Saratoga - beautiful mid-century modern houseMonte Sereno is home to 16 Eichler houses on Via Sereno beginning at the intersection of Winchester Blvd with Via Sereno.  These houses were built in the late 60s to early 70s.
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Ranch Style Homes

Oster Area Ranch Style HomeLove it or hate it, you can’t escape it: the Ranch.

By far the most abundant architectural style among Silicon Valley homes is the ranch. A recent resurgence in interest in this unique and pervasive house design suggest it is regaining popularity, and there are plenty of reasons to love it! Here we’ll take a peek at the history, how to identify, and the function behind the ranch design. Ready to meet America’s dream home?

New modern ranch homes for town or country living by the National Plan Service, Inc (1956) on Archive.org

by the National Plan Service, Inc (1956) on Archive.org – Click to see

Back on the Ranch: A Brief History

In the early 1930s, San Diego designer Cliff May took the architectural world by storm with his spin on the Spanish colonial revival home. Inspired by adobe ranchos and modern design with an emphasis on comfortable California living, May developed this unique style. This soon evolved into the quintessential California ranch style.

It’s no surprise that the ranch has come to be known as a suburban style. Its popularity was widespread during the booming post-war years through the 1970s, peaking in the 1950s with ranch homes accounting for as many as 9 out of 10 new homes! (Witold Rybczynski, p 207)

Having saturated the market for decades, and with buyers wanting bigger homes, the market shifted away from building the sprawling single-story ranch in the later decades of the 20th century. Still the design retained popularity in the resale market. With more ranch homes celebrating their golden jubilee (some of the earliest are approaching 90) and some gaining historic designations there has been a renewed interest in ranch architecture over the last decade or so.

Design Elements

 “Today, almost any house that provides for an informal type of living and is not definitely marked by unmistakable style symbols is called a ranch house.” (Sunset Western Ranch Houses (1946), IX – 1946).

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Spanish Style Homes

Spanish house on Ayer - Vendome

A home with many Spanish style elements on Ayer Ave in the Vendome district of San Jose near Japantown.

Curved terra cotta tile roofs and pale stucco walls, these are the tell-tale signs you’re looking at a Spanish style house! But what is a Spanish style home?

What makes a house a Spanish style home?

There are actually a number of more specific designs that might fall under this umbrella term. Some of these include Mission or California Mission Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Moorish Revival, Territorial or Territorial Revival, Pueblo Deco, Monterey Colonial, Colonial Californiano, and Mexican Style, but most frequently the term “Spanish Style” is used to describe the Spanish Eclectic or Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. We’ll focus on these last two as they are the most widely found designs and most of the Spanish style homes in the South Bay fall into at least one of these two categories.

Before we jump in any further, there’s a lot we can learn from these names. Revival styles draw on the look of a past era, which in this case is the Spanish colonial-era architecture of the far and south west found in historic adobes and the missions. This architecture is a reimagining, not a reproduction, of something vintage through a contemporary form. These are “eclectic” styles because the architecture does not follow any strict rules of design. Instead, it combines features of various styles, replacing or mixing elements for taste and functionality to become a kind of hybrid design.

What does this mean for the average homebuyer / homeowner?

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What styles of homes are popular in Santa Clara County today?

What's Your Home's Style?While most of Santa Clara County (and Silicon Valley too) is filled with ranch style homes, there’s more to the South Bay than the typical rambler. Some areas, such as Los Gatos, Willow Glen, and Palo Alto, seem to be a magnet for diverse types of architecture. Our local multiple listing service, MLSListings.com, includes the following categories for these varied types of homes.  It’s not a perfect list, of course, as several of them have a few sub types (think Spanish and Victorian especially).  Perhaps rather than Eichler, which is a prominently known mid-century modern home, the category should have been the broader mid-century modern, since there are many which are similar but cannot be attributed to Eichler in particular.  In any event, here’s the list:

Cabin
Cape Cod
Colonial
Contemporary
Cottage/Bungalow
Country English
Craftsman
Eichler
French
Georgian
Mediterranean
Modern/High Tech
Ranch
Spanish
Traditional
Tudor
Victorian

Today I was wondering which of these types is “in style”, making them sell faster?   (more…)

Which areas in Silicon Valley are the most European feeling?

Beckwith Building in Downtown Los Gatos, CA

The beautiful Beckwith Building in downtown Los Gatos, California

I have been fortunate to have made 5 trips to Europe, one of them lasting 9 months, and will be returning again before the end of 2013 (this time to Belgium).  It is so diverse, beautiful and compelling! Having experienced a little culture shock myself (when living in Florence, Italy, for one year of university), I’m very sympathetic about how hard an international move can be, and I understand that for Europeans moving to Silicon Valley, there can be an acute culture shock, particularly for those coming from more rural areas.

The bulk of Silicon Valley is located in Santa Clara County, which is at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay.  In this county, there are approximately 1.8 million people, almost a million of them in the city of San Jose.  Some areas, or districts, of San Jose have a distinctive character and are almost like towns or small cities themselves.  So in this article I’ll mention both cities and towns, but also areas or districts of San Jose, which might appeal to our European transplants.   Most of my comments will reference Santa Clara County or “south bay” locations, but I will also mention others on the San Francisco Peninsula and SF Bay Area too.

Architecture, Urban Centers and Charm

It is an unfortunate negative in Silicon Valley that much of our housing consists of ranch style tract homes, and truthfully, they are not exactly a work of art.  New or newer homes tend to be on very tiny parcels of land (or “lots”) and for many people may simply feel too congested or crowded. But there are beautiful residential neighborhoods – you just need to know where to look!  In many ways, the areas with higher charm can make our global home buyers feel more comfortable than if they were faced with only track, ranch neighborhoods.

Do you value unique, older architecture with Victorian, Craftsman, Tudor or other home styles? Then check out these areas:

  • Within San Jose: the Japantown, Vendome, and Naglee Park areas of downtown San Jose. Also in central San Jose are the Rosegarden, Shasta Hanchett and Burbank neighborhoods which all boast some lovely older homes.  Or, if you love classic Spanish Revival style homes with views, consider the old Alum Rock area of San Jose near the country club (golf course).  The Willow Glen area of SJ (zip code 95120) is full of lovely old established neighborhoods with historic homes and tree lined streets.  If your job takes you to downtown San Jose, all of these areas will be fairly close.

Please read the rest of this article on the Move2SiliconValley.com website:

http://www.move2siliconvalley.com/which-silicon-valley-areas-are-the-most-european-feeling/

What Types of Houses or Homes are Found in Los Gatos?

Los Gatos is a charming town at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains that features a good amount architectural beauty in commercial and residential buildings (and natural beauty too, as the town’s backdrop is the coastal foothills).

Today we’ll have a look at some of the diverse types of architecture seen in Los Gatos homes. There are many neighborhoods built out by many different builders within the town (and in county pockets). Each one has its own personality and “feel”. Many of the town’s residential areas have ranch style homes that are 30 – 50 years old, but certainly not all of Los Gatos can be described that way. What types of houses does Los Gatos have? It really depends on the neighborhood and age of the area or development – and, to an extent, on the owners and how they care for the home. Here, then, is a “sampling” of architectural styles found in the homes of Los Gatos.

The Almond Grove District is one of the oldest parts of Los Gatos and it features many lovely Victorian homes, some craftsman and a smattering of everything else. It’s a fabulous place to see at any time of the year, but especially in October or December, when the area seems to go all out in decorating for the holidays. This neighborhood is located near Los Gatos – Saratoga Road and N. Santa Cruz Avenue, and includes streets such as Almendra, Massol, Tait, and Bean. (And yes, it was once a grove of almond trees.)

Almond Grove House

And here’s a lovely Craftsman style home just touching the Almond Grove area:

 

Los Gatos Home

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