A Remodeled Mid-Century Eichler Home in Northern California

updated Mar 27, 2019

A Remodeled Mid-Century Eichler Home in Northern California

updated Mar 27, 2019
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Name: Karen Nepacena & John Shum
Location: Walnut Creek, California
Size: 1,663 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 4 years

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Karen and John knew they wanted to raise their family in not just any mid-century modern home, but one specifically designed by the renowned real estate developer Joseph Eichler. “We fell in love with Eichler homes and mid-century modern design after seeing a nearby open house for a thoughtfully restored and renovated Eichler,” Karen says. “We decided we wanted to live in an inspiring home like that one, as a place to raise our boys and entertain friends and family.” When they toured this home and saw it’s potential and the dreamy outdoor atrium, they knew it would be a perfect fit.

Shortly after buying the home, Karen and John began showcasing their renovation work on their blog Destination Eichler. The blog gained attention from mid-century lovers, and has since turned into a full-service interior design company. Luckily, in Karen and John’s Walnut Creek neighborhood, there is no shortage of mid-century Eichler homes (there are around 350 in the neighborhood alone), so the couple helps owners uncover the true beauty of each house.

We first caught a glimpse of Karen and John’s home on The Kitchn, and it’s evident that the couple has done a tremendous job highlighting the home’s original features in beautiful vignettes. Not only that, but the couple fills the home with art, furniture and accents that are modern, bright, and colorful — a true complement to the space. “We love the special details that make Eichler homes unique,” Karen says. “We try to balance mid-century modern home restoration with blending in our own style.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic Mid-Century Modern

Inspiration: The arts — photography, dance, design and music. Growing up, we were both very involved with the arts: John with classical music and Karen was a professional ballet dancer. In terms of design inspiration, we love the work of Charles and Ray Eames; for architecture, A. Quincy Jones (who designed our home model) and Richard Neutra.

Favorite Element: Our outdoor atrium

Biggest Challenge: Renovating an old house with two young kids, on a budget

What Friends Say: “So what project are you working on now?”

Biggest Embarrassment: Any room that we haven’t yet gotten to renovate yet becomes a junk and storage room.

Proudest DIY: The concrete counters we made for the kitchen and the front landscaping project.

Biggest Indulgence: Fireclay tile backsplash and the vintage Eames lounge chair and ottoman.

Best Advice: Live in your house for awhile before embarking on a big renovation. You get to know what things frustrate you the most on a daily basis.

Dream Sources: Any big antique market, such as the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. Sometimes the best finds are at a local estate sale!


Behr — Evening Hush (house exterior)
Clark & Kensington — Golden Breeze (door)
Custom DIY Mural — Colorhouse Paints

Globe lights — YLighting

Sofa — Custom made
Vintage Eames lounge chair and ottoman — Estate sale
Vintage Danish chairs — Given to us by a friend (DIY reupholstered in Maharam fabric)
Coffee table — Estate sale
Rug — CB2
Atomic sconce — eBay
Floors — Armstrong VCT

Nelson Saucer bubble pendant — YLighting
Vintage Saarinen-style tulip table — Radical Relics
Herman Miller shell chairs — YLiving
Leather and wood dining chairs — Family pieces
Mid-century modern sideboard — Estate sale
Seth Thomas vintage clock — Midmodkitch
Chinoiserie table lamps — Gifted by friend
Artwork — Midmodkitch, garage sales, and our children’s art

Kitchen kabinets — IKEA
Flatsawn walnut doors — Semihandmade Doors
Tom Dixon beat lights — YLighting
Diamond tile backsplash, lagoon — Fireclay Tile
Gas range — BlueStar Cooking
Fiberglass shell counter stools — Modernica
Kitchen Faucet — Grohe

Vintage Saarinen-inspired tulip table — Craigslist
Bertoia wire chairs — 47th Street Antiques in Sacramento
Wall hanging — Marimekko

Tile backsplash— Heath Ceramics
Sconce — YLighting
Vintage Turner mirror — Estate sale
Vanity – ArtCeram
Faucet – Fantini
Paint — Classic Silver by Behr

Modesto Bed — AllModern
Nightstands — John’s nightstands from his childhood home
Swivel chair — Family piece
Dresser — Gifted by friend
Yarn wall hanging — DIY project with a branch and yarn from JoAnn’s Fabrics
Artwork and ceramics — Estate sales
Vintage brass sconces — Antiques & Modern in Berkeley
Closet and hall doors — DIY
Floors — Cork

Sofa — World Market
White and blue pillows — DIY
Coffee table and bench — IKEA
Acapulco chairs — Garage sale
Wire side tables — Estate Sale

Outdoor sconce — Palm Springs Vintage Market
House numbers and curb stencils (not pictured) — modernhousenumbers.com

Thanks, Karen & John!

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