Eyes on Eichler

By Renee Langley Salai, NCIDQ, CID

Renee and Mike Salai volunteered at the Eichler Home Tour. Here they are in Los Angeles at the Stahl House (Case Study House #22) this summer, in the foreground of the iconic view.

Renee and Mike Salai volunteered at the Eichler Home Tour. Here they are in Los Angeles at the Stahl House (Case Study House #22) this summer, in the foreground of the iconic view.

Sometimes Instagram scrolling pays off in a big way. That's how I first learned of the Eichler Home Tour.  An advertisement of picture-perfect Eichler homes on SoCal Modern's account lured me in like a bug to the light. I clicked on the link to find out more; and being a recent M.Arch graduate, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved with such a cool event and earn free tickets in exchange for a few hours of volunteering! My husband and I both applied to be docents and were assigned to the Saturday morning shift at 1723 N. Shaffer in the Fairmeadow tract. 

On the big day, we arrived early and enjoyed some time chatting with the other docents. Once guests started to arrive, we took our places around the house and I happily pointed out the character-defining features to them, such as the original opaque glazing of the atrium known as “mistlite,” and the mahogany wall panelling.  Several of the visitors were Eichler owners themselves, had grown up in an Eichler home, or had some personal connection to Eichler houses. They already knew the facts about the post-and-beam-construction and mid-century modern design and were simply there to be among other enthusiasts enjoying the houses.  

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Once we were finished with our 3.5 hours volunteer shift, we were free to check out the other houses.  We started with a run through of "our" house, just to get the full experience of the tour. I'm still in love with the custom bar the owner recently added near the home's entry. Eventually, we decided we had to say goodbye and move on.  We started our official tour at the other Fairmeadow house on Glendale Avenue and then drove to the Fairhills tract which had two houses to tour. We were in Midcentury Modern heaven, lingering in each house, and so we would have to return on Sunday to tour the Fairhaven tract. However, some very smart realtors were having open houses in the area and we were able to see two bonus Eichler houses before heading home. One of the houses even had a stunning original kitchen complete with multicolored sliding doors on the pantry. 

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Sunday was wet and chilly. It had rained overnight and volunteers were taking extra care to issue booties or have guests remove their shoes. We took our time since we had all day to kill and only three houses left to see. We examined each detail trying to determine what was original and what had been redone. At our last house on South Oakwood, I circled through many times trying to draw out the experience and really get a feel for what makes these houses such pleasant environments.  After an hour, we reluctantly decided we should go.  As we made our way out the front door, we ran into the artist Shag- known for his illustrations of Midcentury Modern scenes- and said hello, then promptly giggled like school girls all the way back to our car. 

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I couldn't think of a better way to spend a weekend. We got first-hand experience of the storied Eichler homes, met a ton of cool people, and were introduced to the Preserve Orange County organization! 

10/10 - would recommend and definitely will volunteer again.

Find Renée on Instagram @reneelangleysalai

Krista Nicholds