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The Dream of the 60s Is Alive in Concord's Eichler Enclave

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The wall-hanging over the fireplace is a presumed Jeré, which the couple found at the Sebastopol Antique Society. Photos via Patricia Chang
The Eichler building heyday, roughly from the 1950s to the early 70s, drew its energy from the rise of the suburb. But it's a testament to the developer's appeal that even amid our era's big population shift back to cities, the promise of more space (and a pert midcentury roofline) can draw born-and-raised city dwellers out to the 'burbs. In 2009, Matt and Camila Baum left their one-bedroom in Twin Peaks for an Eichler rental in Concord. "They're supposed to be really accessible," Camila says of the Eichler homes' ethos, "but lately, even when we were looking a few years ago, it was so crazy. Your average person couldn't even afford one—until we discovered Concord." The couple rented a three-bedroom in the Rancho de la Santos Eichler neighborhood for $1,950 per month. "It was just like, yeah, we'll move here because we love the house," recalls Camila.

Six years later, the Baums are total converts. Exchanges via neighborhood Facebook groups devoted to Eichler maintenance grew into friendships and midcentury nerd-outs en masse. "We all moved here from different places because of these homes," explains Camila. "You all get it; you want to love these houses, and then you're like, 'Oh, you guys are really cool people, too.'"

On Etsy the couple found this contemporary piece (hanging on wall) inspired by Witco.
Though they're certainly devoted, the Baums do not consider themselves Eichler purists. Camila prefers what she calls "Palm Springs colors"—the couple painted their bedroom orange, and the house exterior bright green—and doesn't hold herself to a historical standard. "The beauty of these homes is they're supposed to be affordable to the middle class; they're supposed to be really accessible," she says, adding with a small chuckle, "I like to decorate with color, to the chagrin of some."

Much of that decision—to scrap Eichler fidelity—was already made for the Baums. Under prior owners, their house, which was built in 1965, had already been stripped of its mahogany walls and vinyl floors. A transparent cover went in over the atrium, red lacquer Ikea cabinetry was installed in the kitchen, and the most recent owner removed siding around the atrium interior and added a glass wall in one of the bedrooms. The extent of the Baums' changes when they moved in was to paint and add a backsplash in the kitchen. "We're not DIY people," says Matt. "We'd like to be, but we're not."

When they moved in in 2009, the Baums had gone through a rental agency and did not know the owner. But they met her shortly, on a fluke, when she responded to a string of Craigslist ads for the 1950s-era furniture that had filled the Baums' Twin Peaks apartment. "The same woman kept replying, and I was like, 'I don't know if you realize, all of this is us; do you want to just come to our house?'" Matt recalls. When he gave the address, "she was like, 'No way, I own [that house] in Concord.'" Just a few months later, she and her husband decided to sell them the house. "It never hit the open market," says Matt. "We didn't have to bid on it."

The pendant light is a Modernica reproduction of a George Nelson lamp. On the wall hangs a Witco world map.
The couple now have a three-year-old daughter, Sydney, and Camila has transitioned from social work to a recently launched business staging Eichler homes. (Matt works in sales.) Camila and her neighbor and shopping buddy, Blaine Siler, launched Redux Stage Co. in October after seeing one too many Eichler homes staged with overstuffed couches. "We thought, wouldn't it be nice to accentuate the architecture, and give people an idea of what these houses are supposed to be like?" she says. The duo maintain their growing collection in storage unit and sometimes rotate in their own furniture and artwork." (When we first walked into the Baums' home, it did look rather familiar.) Siler refinishes furniture, and the two have a friend who does upholstery. But above all, says Camila, "we just continue to do what we've been doing, which is constantly shop."

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· Redux Stage Co. [Official Site]
· Adorable Eichler in Concord Seeks a Totally Doable $575K [Curbed SF]
· House Calls Archives [Curbed SF]