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Joseph Eichler home in Granada Hills returns to midcentury glory

When Cindy Epping and her partner, Harvey Horton, bought the Joseph Eichler-designed house in Granada Hills in 2007, the place was a mess. The front atrium -- an Eichler signature -- was a jungle of vines. The living room floor was covered in worn red shag carpeting, laid over fractured linoleum. The mahogany veneer on the walls and cabinetry throughout the house had been stained repeatedly to a muddy smear, and the fireplace had collapsed in an earthquake, sometime in the last century.

The 2,500-square-foot house, however, did have great bones, Epping says. The fact that it had never been remodeled was actually a selling point. About 120 Eichlers are in her Balboa Highlands subdivision, and Epping’s “double gable floor plan” house was one of the model homes for the 1964 development. In the 1980s, before such midcentury tract homes had achieved the status they hold now, many of her neighbors had already been through one serious remodel, ripping out floors and redoing kitchens and bathrooms without much regard to the period design. Some of the attempts were a disaster of colliding styles, she says.

“We like the purist point of view,” she says. “It makes everything easier.”

Up to a point. When fixing her own home, Epping was faced with the challenge of preserving its vintage character on a relatively modest budget. She says they spent less than $50,000 total, half of which went to repairing the fireplace; they chose cinder-block facing instead of whole bricks to save money. They also tossed the shag, pulled up the linoleum and polished the concrete slab underneath.

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The biggest job was the kitchen: cleaning and replacing the surfaces, switching from electric to gas, sanding and painting the casework, and finding the right modern appliances and hardware. Because Epping works in movie set decoration, she knew how to find Formica (easy) as well as someone to install it (much harder). Deceptively simple items such as the nickel finger holes in the kitchen cabinets or the vent covers took longer. The project led her to start her own business, www.onestopmodern.com, a clearinghouse for midcentury hardware and fixtures.

Epping and Horton aren’t done yet, but slowly the years of mistakes are being replaced by vintage style. In memory of the original owner, now there’s even a shag rug in the living room.

home@latimes.com

latimes.com/home More photos on the Web Take a visual tour of Cindy Epping’s home on our extended online gallery.

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