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A tale of two Eichlers: San Rafael home asks $1.4 million, Palo Alto $1.9 million

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A homey dilemma

Will the Bay Area ever get tired of Joe Eichler’s homes?

Hopefully not, given that the celebrated midcentury developer sowed thousands of houses all across California, leaving enough stock to keep Eichler aficionados up to their ears in Eichlers for decades to come.

Take the case of 4136 Briarwood Way, a five-bed, two-bath Eichler engendered home in Palo Alto circa 1961 that listed today for the drastic sum of more than $1.99 million.

The ad by Deleon Realty dubs the home “atrium-style living,” a nod to the signature Eichler atrium that occupies the entryway and creates a courtyard of sorts, all part of Eichler’s general aesthetic of blurring the lines between interior and exterior space as much as possible.

Note the glass walls exposing the kitchen to the atrium space, and vice versa. It’s not clear whether or not the kitchen’s built-in aquarium is a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the room’s own design or just a happy accident, but it’s a nice touch either way.

This place last sold for $1.1 million in 2004. Even though Eichler designed his homes to be affordablee for working class buyers and even though there are a lot to go around, the machinations of California’s housing crisis drive prices on his creations through the plank-and-beam roof anyway.

Compare this with 53 Mount Whitney Drive, a four-bed, two-bath San Rafael Eichler house from 1962 now asking more than $1.42 million.

Although separated from Briarwood Way by only a year, not all that many miles, and in this case a bit more than half a million dollars, this “custom-designed” Eichler appears more restrained than its sibling to the south, situating a smaller atrium in the living room for example rather than opting for the blasted-open courtyard look.

53 Mount Whitney also sports the typical huge floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the yard, but in this case they flank the full-wall fireplace (another favorite of the developer), creating less of a panorama and more of a slightly better defined barrier.

This one sold less than three years ago for $849,000 but has evidently climbed the peak into seven-figure territory in short time, at least as this latest offering would have it.