In Good Hands
These homeowners relish their role as caretakers for a “pristine” 1955 Eichler.
The homeowners of this 1955 Eichler have embraced its prior upgrades and lovingly preserved original spaces.
The roofline was what did it. Or maybe it was the banks of windows. Or perhaps the original kitchen, open floor plan and fireplace. Something about this 1955 Eichler home designed by Jones & Emmons told Zann Gates and Jeff Roush that it was meant to be theirs, so they purchased it off-market and left their 1920 stucco cottage in Davis, California, for this flat-roofed ranch in nearby Sacramento.
“[It was] pristine—the inspector couldn’t find anything wrong with it structurally, all we had to do was a toilet reset,” Zann says of the state of the home when purchased. “The previous owners spent the three years of their ownership replacing the roof, the exterior siding; insulating throughout; caulking in between all the ceiling boards; new flooring; new hot water heater and double-pane windows throughout the home. It felt like a new house.”
PAST AND PRESENT UPGRADES
Doorways were moved to create an en-suite guest bath, and an extra glass panel was added to the master bedroom, which Zann shares is the best upgrade the prior homeowners made. She doesn’t agree with all their choices for the four-bedroom, twobathroom home, like removing most of the original mahogany-paneled walls. So Zann and Jeff have made modifications that are both 21st-century eco-conscious and fitting to the MCM period.
“We redid the closet doors back to their original look—painted the frames and rebuilt the grasscloth panels with new grasscloth and plywood,” Zann says. “We added grasscloth to a wall in the master bedroom and a wall in the office to warm up the look.” Walls will eventually be repainted, and the basic laminate floor installed by the previous owners will be replaced at some point.
“My dream is cork, and when I say cork, I mean 12" x 12" glue-down cork like in the actual midcentury,” Zann says. “We have a neighbor that put it in; it makes me cry when I go over there. It’s lovely and patinated like an old ball glove or a grade school in the 1950s that’s seen too many little feet.”
One space that hasn’t needed a refresh is the kitchen, which maintains its original black-and-white color scheme and features the original cabinetry and Thermador oven and cooktop. The stove-side countertop is still covered in the original Formica. The kitchen layout is untouched. “[A] galley kitchen with a proper work triangle is a joy forever,” Zann says. “Jones & Emmons knew what they were doing.”
The kitchen is one piece of a large open-concept living/eating space, with delineations provided by the surviving three-quarter panel wall and the white brick wall/fireplace. There’s easy flow in this area of the home, and plenty of light is able to stream into the kitchen and dining room from the floor-to-ceiling glass panels and sliders in the living room.
The living room offers an uninterrupted view of the backyard, which was designed by a local landscaping firm. Zann and Jeff requested pollinator-friendly native plants be used in the yard, so bees and butterflies are now frequent guests. The hardscaping is original to the house.
“[A] galley kitchen with a proper work triangle is a joy forever. Jones & Emmons knew what they were doing.”
“We redid the closet doors back to their original look—painted the frames and rebuilt the grasscloth panels with new grasscloth and plywood.”
A panel wall is carried through from the entryway into the living room and out into the backyard. It was painted Kelly-Moore’s “Head for the Beach” by the former homeowners. Beige on the paint chip, it can read as sage green on the walls, depending on the light. This chameleon quality has made Zann a fan of the color.
A LOOK TOWARDS THE FUTURE
Though just the fourth owners in the home’s nearly 65-year history, Zann and Jeff know they will one day protectively pass this Eichler gem along and are grateful for their place in its ongoing story. “It’s a dream home for us; we feel lucky to be its caretakers for now,” Zann says. “And I hope to God no one ever tears out the three-quarter wall between the kitchen and living room in a misguided attempt to ‘open up’ the space.”