At Home In A Light, Bright Sunnyvale Eichler

by Maxwell Tielman

Although glorious mid-century modern homes seem to run rampant on America’s west coast, finding the perfect one can still be something of a challenge for those with something specific in mind. For graphic designer Traci Yau and her family, something specific translated to something by Joseph Eichler, the 20th-century California real estate magnate who is often credited for introducing Modernist design to the masses. Taking cues from legends like Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, Eichler’s homes typically featured open floor plans, large windows and skylights, intended to bring the beauty of California’s nature inside. After an exhaustive search that began five years ago, Traci and her husband, Herman, finally found what they were looking for in 2012—an Eichler original with an open atrium and a floor plan designed by architect Robert Anshen.

“Our goal was to create a clean, modern space that respected the history of the architecture, yet didn’t confine us to being strict preservationists,” Traci says of their Sunnyvale, CA home. “We intentionally picked decor and finishes that would enhance the best things about having an Eichler: floor-to-ceiling windows and massive amounts of natural light.” A clutter-free decorating scheme was enacted (“the windows are almost a work of art themselves,” Traci notes) and white walls, cabinetry, and flooring were chosen in order to enhance light. This simple, subdued scheme allows the furniture and artwork within the home—much of it from other mid-century designers—to shine. It’s just the sort of timeless space that is malleable and adaptable enough to fit the ever-changing needs and tastes of a growing family. —Max

The main living space. "The old wall cut this space in two," Traci says, "and really decreased the amount of natural light (it was later that Eichler started opening up the floor plans more). Removing it was, by far, the best choice we made during the remodel. We also have no upper cabinets which allows the dining/kitchen/living room to flow together seamlessly." Couch from Macy's Martha Stewart Collection; end table from Urban Outfitters; blanket from Candy Kirby designs; small blanket from Ellie Fun Day. Wall color: Behr Ultra White. Floors: whitewashed bamboo.
"This is one of my favorite corners of our house and usually where I spend my weekend mornings reading and drinking coffee," Traci says. "The Eames molded plywood lounge chair was on my wish list for years and my husband surprised me with it for our 10th anniversary. The matching coffee table he gave me for the following birthday." Shelves from IKEA. Stendig Calendar.
"My husband is the cook of the family and this is really his domain," Traci says. Cabinets and countertops from IKEA.
The dining room. "I am seriously in love with our table, which took me about 6 months to find," Traci says. "I was super picky about wanting the perfect MCM table with delicate lines that could also seat at least 10 people."
"We're big coffee fans," Traci says, "and the slow process of using a Chemex is absolutely one of my favorite daily rituals."
A corner of one of the kitchen's islands. Vase from Target; Candle from Imogene and Willie; terrarium from Land of Salt.
"I'm constantly rearranging this shelf in the corner of our dining room," Traci says. "I've been decluttering lately and craving lots of white open spaces, but I also want to display our vintage camera collection (many of them having belonged to my grandparents) as well as a few of my favorite things." Shelves from IKEA; custom "Sunnyvale" print by Daniel Patrick Simmons; mercury glass candle from Anthropologie.
The east corner of the dining room. Tiger print from RK Design; vase from Target; salt and pepper grinders by Muuto; large cutting board by Verksted; small cutting board by Son of a Sailor; triangle trivet is Traci's own design.
"I painted these branches for Christmas decor our first Christmas in this house," Traci says, "and then never took them down. I also love the mixture of hard and soft materials with the wooden cutting boards and concrete trivet."
The family's cat, Dexter. "The atrium is on the left and the living room is on the right," Traci says. "One of my favorite things is the original Eichler siding wall that runs through the living room and then over to the atrium to visually bring the outside and inside together."
"Even though our living room is in the middle of this wide open space, it still manages to feel small and cozy and we spend a lot of time here," Traci notes. "I love watching our daughter read and play and create things in this space. As a designer, I am constantly inspired by living here and it's been amazing to see how this home has grown our daughter's imagination and level of creativity."
The master bedroom and bath.
Dresser from West Elm; motorcycle print by Jeremiah Hagler; concrete vase is Traci's own design.
Traci and Herman's daughter, Emilia's room. "We adopted Emilia, when she was 18 months old and during the early days we played lots of Beatles, which she really connected with," Traci says. "She's still a massive fan and John is still her favorite. The biggest challenge in this space was finding a place for all her books (half her closet is bookshelves) and storage for all her art supplies." Paint color: Behr Fresh Day.
Traci's at-home office/studio space where she works as a freelance designer. "As an introvert and creative, I'm really affected by space and my surroundings," Traci notes, "and after moving here, I saw a massive change in the way I work and the things I create. I absolutely credit this house to helping me find my creative voice. This space is also where I can wed my love of clean, modern home goods with my more nerdy Star Wars/Doctor Who/Comic book side."
"One thing that is necessary in here is lots of storage space," Traci says. "The drawers are perfect and the work table is a bit of a beast and more cluttered than I prefer, but it gets the job done."
"Pretty stationery and supplies are my weakness and I love being able to have them here," Traci says. "The whole wall behind my desk used to be a huge cluttered bookshelf which I recently took down. I've been more selective about what I put on my walls (my eyes are really craving white, open space). James Bond is here because my husband and I have had a long running joke about my crush on Daniel Craig. It's really there for him. I swear."
The atrium.
An "extra" room was converted to a mudroom.

Suggested For You


  • As soon as I saw the headline “Sunnyvale Eichler” I thought of your beautiful home, Traci, and sure enough, there you are! It’s nice to see more of your living space and work room. Congrats on the feature!

  • Being that I have the honor of knowing Traci and Herman personally, and got to visit this amazing space before it was remodeled to see the amazing conversion. They’ve done an amazing job curating each space and thoughtfully putting all of their objects of affection into the right places. Makes me yearn to own an Eichler one day!

  • The photos with so much white interiors are hard to see clearly and the blog design is much less easy to use. Just my two cents…

  • I cleaned a home once that looked very similar to this one! It had a huge white carpet, white walls, white couch. I love black and white interiors – they seem so spacious, bright and clutter-free, but truth be told, someone like me has sweated for hours for this home to look so clean and tidy! :) To have a home similar to this one is a step that requires some bravery, especially if you have kids. There is a saying I love very much: “All of us have moments in out lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”

  • Love their home — so bright and beautiful! A space that exudes calmness, but is also brimming with creativity!

  • Beautiful home – I think, but the photos are WAY overexposed so I can’t really tell. The photos hurt my eyes as I’m searching for corners that define the space that are washed out by the camera. Can you release this photo essay again with the contrast cranked up a bit, and the brightess turned down?

  • I love the atrium and the black and white color scheme, (including the adorable cat Dexter, he fits in perfectly!). Daring palette, dashing cat!

  • I love your house! I love the feeling of cleanes and space. I would like to know if IKEA cabinets are good? I need cabinets but I do not know which brand to go for! Please reply in email address! Thank you

  • Oh wow we just moved into a Eichler house in the same hood although our decor is a bit on the ClockWork Orange side, (minus the giant phallus) I love what you have done with your home, very crisp.

  • Thank you all so much for your lovely compliments and comments!

    N Tarentino: The desk is all from Ikea! I got a large desk top, and added the legs and drawers. It’s been a really great set up for me.

    Judy, we’ve been incredibly happy with the cabinets so far. I would love to answer any questions you have. Feel free to email me at tyau30 at gmail.com

  • Just wish we could see more of the house and less vignettes … not only here but as a general rule

  • Hi,

    Where are the stools from picture 19 from in the mudroom?
    Your house is awesome!


  • Who was your contractor? We also have an A frame Eichler and looking to bring it up to date. Amazing level of detail! Love the openness.

  • Oh, wow. This is absolutely stunning! We’re going to be moving down to Florida, and this is the style we definitely will be looking for…..hopefully we can find something like it! :) And the white bamboo flooring….LOVE it! Love houses that are wide open, spacious and bright! Everything in your house is perfection! Congrats! :)

  • Really nice design. I really love the clean concept on the spacious space. I will be moving in June and I would like to find a place with such clean design.

  • I like how you paired the kitchen color together with the sofa and flooring. Very elegant! Keep up the good work and hope to see more of such article.