Joseph Eichler was a renowned architect in the 1950s and ‘60s who was known for his clean, open, mid-century modern designs. But even an architect whose work was ahead of his time could use an update in the 21st century.

That was the design-and-rebuild challenge for designer-builder John Lewis of Lewis Builders in Carmel, California. He wanted to keep the design esthetics of Eichler, but update the look, feel and functioning of an Eichler-designed home from the 1960s perched on a hillside in Carmel with views of the ocean.

The challenges were many: the heating and ventilation system was poured into the concrete slab foundation and had pest intrusion. The floor plan was choppy — you had to walk through one bedroom to get to the other. The kitchen was crowded — you couldn’t see from the kitchen to the dining room nor to the ocean. Parts of the house were starved for natural light.

In addition, a crowded kitchen, a misplaced fireplace wall, and overgrown vegetation outside all hindered ocean views from this 1,600-square-foot house located a block and a half from the beach. An old patio arbor blocked natural light and felt crowded.

The challenge was to rebuild the house into a modern, well-equipped and well-lighted home yet still keep as much of Eichler’s design esthetic as possible.

“We pride ourselves on being able to accomplish any kind of architectural design, Victorian, Contemporary, Carmel Cottage, Craftsman, and so on,” said Lewis. “With this house, we wanted to pay homage to Eichler and do something he would do in 2020. He was pretty modern for his time, so we call this an ‘updated’ Eichler.”

Lewis and his team added a hallway, along with a slight bump out to the back that made three bedrooms out of two. Kitchen, living, dining, and foyer were all opened up with windows and skylights to bring the outdoors in.

Some of the solutions included:

  • Original heating, and ventilation, system was removed and radiant floor heating installed.
  • A hallway was added to make three bedrooms.
  • Kitchen, dining and living room were opened up.
  • Fireplace was moved, energy efficient windows installed, landscaping rejuvenated, all to maximize ocean views.
  • Natural light was optimized in true Eichler style to bring the outdoors in with six skylights, four patio doors, two French doors, and glass transoms on both interior and exterior walls.
  • An operable skylight above the shower, including a glass transom, to bring both light and fresh air into the interior master bath.
  • Trimless interior windows and doors to enhance the clean, geometric lines, especially prominent in the glass hallway.

Some of the details of the rebuild:

  • 7.5-inch wide plank European oak hardwood floors
  • Natural stacked stone walls flank kitchen walls, fireplace wall, and accented throughout
  • Waterfall countertops and TV console in Calcutta quartz
  • Caesarstone in raw concrete quartz countertops
  • Appliances from Bosch, Bertazzoni, and Fisher & Paykel
  • Custom cabinetry
  • Radiant floor heating
  • Curbless showers
  • Six oversized skylights (one operable above the Master shower), four patio doors, two French doors
  • Two outdoor living spaces totaling more than 800 square feet

“We wanted to use clean, simple lines and natural elements such as wood and to add a warmth and softness to the space,” said Lewis, who calls the design “organic contemporary.” “We honored Eichler’s design by keeping some of the main esthetics in place.

Lewis said he learned a lot about Eichler’s design sensibilities by working on the house.

“As a student of design, I’m immediately attracted to these types of homes,” he said. “I would do anything to learn from the masters like Eichler. So this was a close, intimate experience to work with this house and its design. It was enhanced with modern conveniences, while being true to Eichler’s Mid-Century Modern design elements. We believe Eichler would be pleased.”

The house is for sale and listed with Doug & Lisa Steiny of Sotheby’s International Realty (