Build an Eichler ranch house — 8 original design house plans available today

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If you can’t find the mid century modern Eichler house of your dreams — you can build one of your own. Yes, reader Kkmk tipped us off to HousePlans.com, which has reintroduced eight house plans originally built by famous developer Joseph Eichler.

Who was Joseph Eichler?

According to the HousePlans.com press release:

California developer Joseph Eichler brought modern architecture to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s when he hired contemporary architects like Anshen & Allen and Jones & Emmons to design his tract houses.

We know of at least one faithful Retro Renovation reader and regular contributor — Troy — who owns an original Eichler.

Key elements of Eichler houses

I asked Daniel Gregory, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, Houseplans.com what the key elements are in Eichler’s home plans and why they are so popular. He responded:

Key elements of an Eicher house are post-and-beam construction, walls of glass, strong indoor-outdoor connections to an atrium, courtyard, or patio, and a mid-century modern esthetic.

The renewed interest in Eichler designs is partly the result of a new appreciation for the simple indoor-outdoor lifestyle expressed in a lot of mid-century modern design — promoted by organizations like the Eichler Network and its magazine CA Modern, and other magazines like Atomic Ranch and Dwell, not to mention major books like Eichler: Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream, written by Paul Adamson and compiled by Marty Arbunich. The trend is still building with the popularity of the 2011-2012 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and its accompanying book Living in a Modern Way: California Design 1930 — 1965, edited by Wendy Kaplan is another indicator. And just published is Maynard Parker: Photographing the American Dream, edited by Jennifer Watts, about the photographer who shot modern houses by well known architects for House BeautifulBetter Homes & Gardens and a host of other magazines during the 1940s and 1950s and early 1960s.

Daniel was also kind enough to allow us to use these plan drawings as well as supply further information about these plans, his own credentials and their business:

I am an architectural historian by training (my Ph.D. is in architectural history from UC Berkeley) and have written about William Wurster, Joseph Esherick, and Thomas Church in various essays, along with a book on ranch house designer Cliff May. For many years I was the senior home editor for Sunset Magazine. I also served on the Advisory Board for the Environmental Design Archives.

Stephen Williamson, the chairman of Houseplans.com, and I thought we ought to offer copies of historically significant plans as a way to promote high quality home design. Of course every historical plan needs to be updated to current codes and adapted to the site and client needs, which we can do though our just launched Design Studio run by architect Nicholas Lee, AIA.

Also, fyi, a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of these copies of historical plans supports the Environmental Design Archives at the University of California at Berkeley, which preserves the drawings and papers of significant California architects and landscape architects.

Houseplans.com is the largest online source of architectural ready-made house plans. We are the exclusive host for Not So Big House author/architect Sarah Susanka, Katrina Cottage designer Marianne Cusato, and other architects and designers from across the country and around the world — including Australia, India, Ireland and Italy.

The eight Eichler house plans available today

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Eichler #1: If I were building one of these Eichler homes, It would probably be the plan above: House plan 470-4The square footage (1,649 sq. ft.) is appropriate for me, plus it includes an atrium, enclosed garage (a must in the north) and master suite — what more could you ask for?

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Eichler #2, above: House plan 470-8

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Eichler #3, above: House plan 470-7

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Eichler #4, above: House plan 470-6

The largest of the bunch, this house packs a wow factor — plenty of space, an awesome atrium area and I love the view from the street.

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Eichler #5, above: House plan 470-5The bedroom/bathroom situation in this plan is interesting — you have to go through the bathroom to get to the bedrooms.

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Eichler #6, above: House plan 470-3 – the lone two story in a sea of ranch houses. At 2,143 sq. ft., it is surprisingly not the largest of the bunch.

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Eichler #7, above: House plan 470-2

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Eichler #8, above: House plan 470-1

The home Eichler home plans range from 1,649 sq. ft. – 2,733 sq. ft. Building cost estimates are available as well as architectural consultation through the connected House Plans StudioIf you dream of owning an Eichler — but live in an area of the country where these modern designs are not widely available — these vintage house plans could be just what you’ve been waiting for.

Readers, which Eichler design would you ask Santa for?

See all our stories about historic mid century house plans available again for sale today.

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Comments

  1. LauraRG says

    Oooh… something new to dream about. I love the ones with the atria and courtyards, but I live in the north and that’s just not practical. If I were making this really hard choice it would be #8. All that closet space and the long low lines are perfect!! So happy you shared this with us.

      • Anne says

        Laura, despite living “in the north” it is easy to apply those atria.
        I suspect that those designs were similiar to the houses in Miami FL I saw.. the roof completely covered the atria with a skylight.. it turned it into an indoor garden. Even if it were not covered, it would be a simple matter of doing so. Think outside the box.. it is what Eischler and other architects of that era did..

        • Anastasia says

          Have also seen similar houses in EUROPE! (Germany) The atrium becomes a Glass Ceiling and it HELPS to heat up the home if it’s done the right way! Not that far fetched at all……….

  2. says

    I love the “hobby” and “storage” rooms. I guess if you don’t want to stack belongings along the windows or behind your see-through modern furniture, you need some place to put them!

  3. says

    There are some of these in my area of California. They are very practical for wheelchairs, as there are no steps, and you can roll right through the (wide) front door. In the kitchen, the counters are low, and a low-profile island has no upper cabinets above it. Floors are slab concrete; not sure whether they would have come with coverings or not.

    The atrium seems to be a practical variation on a Spanish/Mexican style courtyard design, to provide passive cooling, but with a Japanese simplicity of syle. California is such a melting pot! (And we have to build for earthquake.)

  4. Jay says

    # 1 because I want an atrium even if I don’t live in California. By the way, the reference to Maynard Parker – go to the Huntingdon Library site and view a slide show of his work, such mid-century eye candy!!!

      • Zoe says

        Pam, these house plans have made me change my mind and think about building a house instead of renovating — I think building would actually be cheaper!!! Too many of the MCM houses around Detroit have been remuddled to the point where it would cost a fortune to renovate them appropriately. So sad. But now I’m thinking about finding a small plot of land where I could build an Eichler #1 — I have *always* (well, for the last 20 years) wanted to build a house with a center courtyard! And I think they would work just fine in the frozen north…

  5. says

    These are awesome! Now building is an option if we ever need to move.
    I’m tellin’ ya… once you live in an Eichler (or an Eichler-esque home like our Rummer) any other house plan just doesn’t feel right.
    Thanks for sharing Pam!

  6. lisa says

    I like 4 and 8 the best. Would not like the one where you basically walk through the bathroom to the bedrooms! Even though the actual bath is closed off with doors, I just don’t like that little hallway with so many doors opening into it. I also think the 10×10 bedrooms in some of the plans are undersized.

    What is a “gallery” for? I don’t particularly want an atrium — here in the Pacific NW the climate is all wrong for it. You need any open spaces to be as open as possible to the scarce sunlight that much of the year comes in at kind of a low angle — decks and porches are great if they face the right way to catch the sun. Walls around an open area pretty much guarantee too much shade. An enclosed atrium with tons of skylights would be nice.

  7. tammyCA says

    I remember seeing an atrium in Orange County house 30 years ago..maybe it was an Eichler. There is the Eichler neighborhood nearby…the principle architect, A. Quincy Jones also designed Gary Cooper’s MCM: http://www.eichlernetwork.com/article/encore-performance-gary-cooper-house

    I can’t begin to tell you how sad it is to see the San Fernando Valley deteriorate over the years…I’m not a native and yet I have such a strong compassion for it and it’s once shining history. It’s become Biffville (Back to the Future reference). It also horrifies me to see these monster boxy additions tacked onto once cute charming homes! And, to see the Storybook charm defaced with the greige updates. I’m sure many homes are decaying because they are rentals or foreclosures…the bank comes in and strips it to a greige lifeless box. I just don’t get how this most creative environment of So Cal can turn things into such uninspiring ugh?! Daily I drive by yet another MCM house damaged that looks to be turning into a greige “thing”…seriously, there won’t be anymore charm left for the film industry to use for locations if everything is going blah! I just don’t get it.

  8. Robin, NV says

    Although it doesn’t have the curb appeal of the others, I’d go with 470.1 It’s an extremely useful floorplan with all the features I’d look for in a house. The large “hobby room” would be perfect for setting up my home brew equipment. I also like 470.4. The atrium at the center of the house would be too cool! My cats could have there own sunbathing nook.

  9. lisa says

    Robin, I like the exterior of 470. Of course it all depends on the finish materials — many lovely houses of this shape are ruined by ugly colors or inappropriate siding, but the bones are nice.

    • Robin, NV says

      Geez I think I confused things by using the plan number and not the example number. My favorite is #8 followed by #1.

      There’s an Eichler-ish looking house a couple of blocks from my house. I can’t get a good look at it because of the way it’s situated on the lot but it’s got a lot of the Eichler features – exposed beams and window walls. Kind of hard to believe an Eichler would pop up in my little rural town though.

  10. TappanTrailerTami says

    Great post Pam!

    I would have to have either the #4 house, or # 6 – both are wonderful, with better room sizes than the smaller ones.

    On a side note, I read on another blog about these and it was called out in the article that some of the Eichler’s would be pretty spendy to build today in CA with all of our earthquake proofing codes – especially with all that glass. Of couse, it is easier in CA to just buy an existing Eichler, however, many have been “updated”…..

    If any one is so inclined to build a new Eichler or Eichler-esque house, or are in need of siding for an existing MCM house, there is now a company out here who reproduces authentic MCM/Eichler exterior siding:

    http://eichlersiding.com/

  11. Annie B. says

    The Eichler designs have always been sort of a gold standard to me in terms of mid century residential architecture: sophisticated simplicity
    in which much thought and intelligence have been invested.

    I’d imagine that these designs could be adapted, not only for modern day codes as Daniel indicates, but for locale as well. If I were to win tonight’s powerball millions, I’d create my own community of elevated East Coast Eichlers. Wish me luck!

  12. Katie says

    I like #1 a lot. The only change that I would make, since I live in AZ, where an enclosed garage isn’t a vital feature, is that I’d make the garage space into more living space. I love the idea of an atrium, and of indoor/outdoor living space.

  13. Lauryn says

    Oh, this is such a fun post! I really do “love the house I’m in” but it is so much fun to drool over these designs. (And I must confess I went down the rabbit hole of houseplans.com … really, looking at beach house plans when I live in Iowa????) I also love the first one mostly because of the atrium, though I’m not a big fan of attached garages … something about the place you park your vehicle being so close to a kitchen or bedroom doesn’t really appeal to me. (The last time I lived anywhere with an attached garage was 1977, so I guess I’m just used to the idea of a detached garage.) Thanks, Pam, for sharing these and reader Kmkk for the tip!

    • Zoe says

      I thought I was the only “nut” who hates attached garages!!! Haven’t owned a house with an attached garage since… oh wait, NEVER! :)

  14. Kathy says

    I grew up in an Eichler and my parents still live in it. hard to live in an “ordinary” house after that. Steve Jobs lived in one for a few years and mentioned it as influencing his sense of style.

    • Imp says

      Interestingly, Steve Jobs did not grow up in an Eichler, but a “Likeler,” a few blocks from where I live today. There are other Eichlers in the neighborhood, though, and it really is hair splitting to claim a big difference. On the other hand, Woz *did* grow up in an Eichler and that is rarely mentioned.

  15. Janet Gore says

    Can’t help but notice the one thing all styles seem to have in common — smaller kitchens. I live in an MCM built in 1960, and realize that the MacMansions seem to have kitchens four times (at least) the size of mine. My bathrooms are not large … they have what is needed. My “master bath” has a shower … not a large one, either … and no soaking tub … and no double sinks. I’m sure that most younger people who would look at my house would find it totally unfit for entertaining … yet those who built it had a very active social life. Wonder if these huge kitchens and baths are more status symbols than useful spaces. Guess I’m getting old(er).

    • Robin, NV says

      I noticed the small kitchens too. My house has a galley style kitchen. It’s very functional but not great for hanging out while entertaining. Most people gravitate toward the kitchen during get-togethers. In my house they have to sort of hover on the edge, which is weird and I think the Eichlers would have the same problem. In regard to the bathrooms, I noticed the Eichlers aren’t set up well for a “guest bath.” In some of them, guests would have to wonder through most of the house to find a bathroom.

      Makes me wonder how entertaining has changed over the years. I can totally imagine a great party in an Eichler atrium but is that something modern people would be into?

  16. Peggy says

    Am I the only one who loves #5? Yes, impractical. But I love the idea of a “gallery.” I agree with Sandra who noted that it reminded her of a Mexican interior. Not that I have the money to build a house any time soon. But one can dream…

  17. lisa says

    Janet, I moved from a 1947 Cape Cod with typical small kitchen to a 1909 Craftsman with a huge kitchen, and I can attest the 1947 was better. That said, I don’t think either house had a kitchen I would have loved when it was new, but the 1947 layout adapted really well to modern living while the large space in the 1909 was really too much space to fill. It could have been done well, I think, but needed more thought than was put into it as it was modernized over a century. The 1947 was more “idiotproof” by having thoughtful design in the first place.

  18. Neva Warnock says

    Another vote for #4 (and winning Powerball) — as a bona fide crazy cat woman, I dream of cental courtyards, for them to safely enjoy the outdoors. And enough bedrooms that I could have one (or two!) cat-free rooms for things like the jewelry hobby and working out. Lol — ah, well. The galleries — interesting — I’m not sure I’d “like” them but they certainly cover the whole open living concept!

  19. Richard says

    Has anyone been able to track down online photos of any of these that were built back in the day? I have had no luck so far with these specific models

    Richard

  20. Christa says

    I always wondered why these plans weren’t made available for new home building. The floorplans are beautiful and so easy to live with. Here in Northern California there are lots of Eichler neighborhoods and I’ve been inside quite a few. The thing that makes Eichlers feel better than many MCM designs are the way the windows go from floor to ceiling — no soffits over the tops of the windows. This is not true for the children’s bedrooms, but for the main rooms and master bedrooms. Also, the master tends to have sliders and a private patio area, as do the living rooms and kitchens. The materials are always simple – when the lines of the home are so clean and pleasing, you don’t need expensive details to make it work.

  21. Christa says

    I just realized that 470-8 is the Courtyard model that we almost bought a few years back. The area between the garage and the kitchen is behind a wall that encloses a front courtyard. The kitchen and multipurpose room had a wall of glass / slider doors out to the courtyard. It was such a great layout with the hobby room off the kitchen (that also had an exterior door – great for clean up or bringing large/dirty things in to the work room).

    The ceilings were flat, open ceiling. I think I would consider adjusting the plan to allow for a slope on the roof – less chance of pooling water that way, and it would be appropriate.

    Anyhow, I HIGHLY recommend that floor plan, it was wonderful. The reason we didn’t actually buy the house had more to do with the work needed than with the house itself.

  22. pam kueber says

    Looking at plan #1, it seems to me that it would be easy enough to reconfigure the kitchen design to open it up to the dining/living room area to make the design even more functional for the way folks live today. Put a countertop bar along the wall where the pantry and doorway are… and reconfigure where the fridge, stove and sink are. You would lose all that wonderful pantry space… maybe we could figure out some other place to tuck it? hmmmm

  23. Jorge says

    I lived for several years in a Rummer version of # 2 with an open courtyard. it was the same design as the Eichler except with two of the bedrooms combined into one larger so it was a 3 bed 2 bath. Even though it was in Oregon, the open courtyard was wonderful year round. The multipurpose room and kitchen were open into one large area. The walls of glass looking into the courtyard gave you the feeling that you were living outside.

    • says

      #2 would be really nice then with the open kitchen. My guess is that would be where we would eat most of our meals..we have a kitchen nook now and the dining room seldom gets use when we are not entertaining. Even so, the door to the dining from the kitchen in #2 would be great for that.

  24. Joe Felice says

    I like the atria, also. I think it would be great to have a private and secure outdoor space for the cats. I would have some plants and a fountain. What is a “gallery?” If I had the wherewithall, I’d find some land & build me one of these. There are lots of Eichlers in the Denver area, but I tend to like houses that have not been ruined by others, and finding one that has been lovingly maintained and/or restored would be very difficult.

  25. theOracle says

    I live in Sun City Shadow Hills in Indio (3000 residences). This year, we have had a ground owl, a hawk and a mother bobcat. Losing rabbits and other on golf course and back yards. Residential is not necessarily without its critters.

  26. andrew hessen says

    Eichler #5
    though, I don’t think you need to go through the bathroom to the bedrooms as there is a small corridor, with the bathroom and one end and a powder room at the other.

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