Gailen Avenue Meadow Park Neighborhood Palo Alto CA: The epitome of Eichler style and function
In 1950, Joseph Eichler’s company Eichler Homes embarked on a mission to bring modern architecture to suburban America. By 1974, Palo Alto featured a number of fine Eichler houses. Many of these Palo Alto properties have been preserved and continue to be wonderful family homes.
Intended to be part of inclusive and diverse communities, Eichler developments were designed to have homes consistent in appearance and sharing similar floor plans. Marked by defining features such as a single-story overlay, radiant heating, atrium and utilization of natural light, Eichlers blend indoors with outdoors and exude a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.
Built in 1958, the 4-bedroom, 2-bath home at Gailen Ave. in Meadow Park neighborhood is a picture-perfect example of a Palo Alto Eichler home, showcasing characteristics of Eichler style.
- ‘Moderate modernism’: Nestled on a cul-de-sac of Eichler houses, one might miss the demure façade of 728 Gailen Ave., were it not for the eye-catching contrast of a white door and trim on its deep sage exterior. The interior of the house is marked by a similar simplicity of line, imbued with pleasing details such as open wood beams spanning the great room and living room that make the space feel clean without feeling sterile.
- Blending indoors and outdoors: As is characteristic of many Palo Alto Eichlers, the front entry of 728 Gailen Ave. opens onto the atrium, an open-air courtyard encased by the house. Ideal for evening entertaining in the spring and summer (or even in California fall and winter), the atrium provides a private, intimate space while maintaining an outdoor atmosphere. Large glass windows were used in Eichler’s designs to allow natural light to illuminate the indoor space and make the interior appear even more spacious.
- Natural light: The technique of using floor-to-ceiling windows to provide light is an Eichler characteristic used freely in the Gailen Ave. home. The atrium is surrounded on three sides by large glass panels, which, in conjunction with the great room/kitchen windows, fill the home with a warm luminance. Tall, narrow windows along the cul-de-sac admit light but preserve privacy.
- Multifunctionality of space: In keeping with Eichler’s ideal of utility in design, the 1,845-sq-ft floor plan of 728 Gailen Ave. is such that the bedrooms lie on one side of the house with living and dining rooms on the other, united by a shared great room and kitchen. The floorplan is dynamic in that rooms could be repurposed to fit the varying needs of its owners. For instance, the bedroom at the front of the Gailen Ave. home is ideal for repurposing as an office, as its location and sliding glass door make it accessible from the atrium. This might allow this room to be functionally separate from the rest of the home.
- Privacy: Eichler homes find a wonderful balance between openness and privacy. Although large windows and glass appear throughout the homes, Eichler was attentive to the need for privacy, demonstrated in his designs. Active living spaces are arranged toward the rear of the home. The atrium also serves as a buffer between the front entry and the rest of the interior.
In addition to these characteristics, 728 Gailen Ave. is further distinguished by its large lot; the house sits on a cul-de-sac abutting other cul-de-sacs, creating a wedge-shaped lot. The floor plan of the house was ‘flipped’ at the request of the original (and only) owner to maximize use of the space. As a result, the home enjoys a spacious, contiguous backyard and side garden with space enough to add a pool, sport court or home addition.
Although located on a low-traffic cul-de-sac in a tranquil neighborhood, 728 Gailen Ave. is by no means isolated. It is within walking distance of Charleston Shopping Center, which features a Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Piazza’s Fine Foods. Mitchell Park and Library and schools such as Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School are also easily accessible.
This post is intended to give you a little taste of this wonderful Eichler home in Palo Alto. Following posts in the series will delve further into Eichler’s design influences; the Meadow Park neighborhood and community; and what makes an Eichler house a home.