Hunter & Casie’s “Redneck Modern” Eichler Home

published Nov 16, 2010
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Name: Hunter Wimmer (Design Educator) & Casie Permenter (Civil Engineer) and Marty the Cranky Cat
Location: Concord, California
Size: 1,800 square feet + 200 square feet atrium
Years lived in: 3 — owned

On a blazingly hot 4th of July holiday, my wife and I moved from West Oakland to the suburbs of Concord to tackle a labor of love: a 1963 Eichler-built home in pretty rough, but somewhat original shape. The family who grew up there had nine children (many of whom are still following our blog, Redneck Modern) and the parents were confined to wheelchairs and walkers towards the end of their lives which left maintenance on the house somewhat of an afterthought — we felt a sort of “stewardship” when approaching the project.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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Two weeks after moving in, in lieu of a housewarming party, we invited friends over for a “demo party” and proceeded to tear out a good bit of the house, including 2 bedroom “stalls” in the garage, a 70°s replacement kitchen and some bad bathrooms. That first month, temperatures soared into the 100°s (and on some days 110°+) and the black tar-and-gravel roof was unforgiving. We sweated, but we persevered.

Over the months, we’d had a good bit of help from friends and former students, but overall have saved quite a bit money by doing a good bit of the work ourselves. As I’ve mentioned to friends: “The laziest guys from my high school are now dry-wallers, so it can’t be that hard” (And it’s not). We’ve connected with folks to do the permit-requiring work (roofing, HVAC, electrical, etc.), but even then a good bit of DIY prep has saved a bundle.

Three years later, we’ve semi-officially celebrated the end of the renovation. There’s certainly a few bits left to be painted, but on the whole, we consider it “done”. It’s nice, too, to have a pretty detailed log of it all: Redneck Modern | Before, During & After.

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Style & Inspiration: The MCM aesthetic of Eichler homes are fairly prescriptive and — to be honest — it’s something we like. If we could live in a Julius Shulman or Ernie Braun photo, we’d be happy folks. I know this pre-ordained style doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes (“It looks like a DWR catalog”, ” Eames chair: check”, etc.), but we’re quite happy with the IKEA meets DWR meets a vintage estate sale vibe. I’m not one to decoupage anything.

Since we’ve started the project, we take Saturday-morning breaks to hit estate sales in the area and after seeing too many can’t-turn-down pieces, my wife started a shop on — Mod Apple — to give these a new life in someone else’s home. While we keep a few of our favorites, rescuing them and releasing them back into the wild at a fair price is a hobby that’s kept us out of trouble for the most part.

Sources: Furniture: Most of the furniture comes from IKEA, DWR (their Bay-area outlet sales, specifically), Modernica and vintage sources. If there’s a piece anyone is wondering about we’ll be happy to pass on the info. Believe it or not, every piece has a story — even the “generic” Eames chair had to be returned. We have good housing karma, but very, very bad furniture karma.

Kitchen: All of the cabinetry comes from IKEA and the appliances are from Bosch.

Art: A few posters by The Small Stakes + Heads of State, some photos by Abner Nolan and David Armstrong, some vintage blueprints and wood-block prints from various sources (including Hatch Show Print). Much of our art has gone into storage or given to friends as the space doesn’t need a lot of decoration, we’ve found… or at least we like to keep the walls somewhat bare.

Challenges: To be candid, half way through the renovation, we found out that my wife had stage-2 breast cancer and over the next 18 months, chemo, a second tumor and radiation took the front seat…and while not specifically house-related (although I’ve since warned friends about the dangers of chemical strippers and solvents as I’m personally of the mindset that the renovation /did/ have something to do with it all), it was the greatest challenge to date and one we’re happy to have behind us.

Otherwise, properly scheduling what needed to be done — in what order — was one of the biggest challenges. For instance, the kitchen needed to be installed on the new floor and against new drywall and under a new window, but to install the new window, we had to replace the siding and the woodwork around the window — so, we lived for 18 months without a kitchen as we did all of the foundational work.

Advice: Make sure — if you’re doing this (an extensive renovation) as a couple — that goals and responsibilities are agreed upon up front as It can either break you up or strengthen the ties. We’re fortunate enough to have fallen into the latter category. Oh, and wear a dust-mask!

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  • We were fortunate enough to have Apartment Therapy already do a bit on our “shelf wall” Redneck Modern’s Shelf Wall which transformed a 4th bedroom into a home-office. The use of the paneling and the built-in Rakks system makes for a very streamlined look and something with high-finctionality and modularity.

  • The kitchen is a space we really love and was surprisingly inexpensive (about $5K for the cabinets for the kitchen and office nook) since we sourced the cabinetry from IKEA and did the work ourselves. Special attention to detailing around the cabinet edges makes it appear much more “high-end” than most IKEA installs: Redneck Modern | Kitchen Finale.

  • Air-conditioning in Concord is a must. We were able to plan well and have a new foam roof, whole-house data-wiring and some electrical happen at the same time as the AC install A lot of DIY along the way helped to shave costs and make the house wiring (phone, cable, ethernet) something easy to house and navigate: Redneck Modern | Wired.

  • We’ve also been able to use the blog for non-construction related bits and it’s turned into a sort of community-building venue — sometimes even connecting would-be buyers with homes.

While there are lots of Eichler homes in the Bay area, few have been rehabed on a budget by their owners and consistently blogged all the while (documenting the ups, downs and randomness of it all): RedneckModern

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Thanks Hunter & Casie!

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