Open to the outdoors

A 1950s Eichler home gets a seamless update

Defined entry path

Street entrance with bold orange door and horsetail-filled concrete planters.

Thomas J. Story

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Live in a house for at least a year before making any major changes.

That's standard advice for new homeowners, and it turned out to be true for Olga and Max Seybold.

Their search for a home that would work for their blended family ― including six children, ages 5 to 21 ― led them to an open-plan, four-bedroom house in Palo Alto, California, built in 1954 by influential developer Joseph Eichler.

The home had great potential for becoming the multifunctional space they needed. And even though it was a tight fit, the family lived in it for two years before doing any remodeling. "That time was important to see what worked and what didn't," Olga says.

As it happened, the open plan worked ― mostly.

The galley kitchen, which was open to the adjacent living room and large patio, allowed Olga and Max to keep an eye on the kids' constant activity.

But the living room also functioned as a dining room and a family room; Olga wanted a dedicated dining room, a family room that was easy to close off, and a laundry room that wasn't in the main hallway.

Plus the house had a shortage of bedrooms and storage (six kids means an abundance of clothing, books, and toys). 

Next: Reassigning space


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