Eichler Remodel Spawns a Design Career | Armonk NY Homes

Sometimes you don’t know what you want until it’s right in front of your face. Pamela Lin and her husband, Erwin Tam, had set out looking for a run-of-the-mill, contemporary cookie cutter home with two stories that they could move into without much renovating. But none of the dozens of homes they toured wowed them. Until they walked inside a home designed by well-known California developer Joseph Eichler.
Seeing the open-sky atrium surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and the open floor plan, Lin and Tam’s style compass completely shifted. Turned out, they weren’t lovers of contemporary style at all; they were midcentury modernists at heart. “Right away we knew this home was for us,” Lin says.
Another thing they soon discovered: Lin is a natural designer. A full-time project manager for Google at the time, she reached out to a few professionals, but her tastes were so particular that she just decided to design the whole house herself, reimagining the kitchen and bathrooms and choosing furnishings, materials and paint colors. Two of her fellow Googlers saw the end result and each hired her to do their homes. Then a neighbor’s friend saw the house, knocked on her door and hired her. After that a different neighbor procured her services as well.
With such demand, Lin decided to start her own interior design company, Urbanism Designs.
Houzz at a Glance Who lives here: Pamela Lin, Erwin Tam and their daughters, Eniko (8 months) and Eliana (4) Location: Sunnyvale, California Size: 1,890 square feet; 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

Lin researched Eichler homes because she wanted to preserve the Eichler feel but modernize it slightly. Previous owners had already altered a few features — they had removed some original interior wood paneling and painted the ceiling, for example — but she tried to keep the structure as original as possible. “We tried to preserve as much as we could and just modernize things without losing the structure and bones,” Lin says.
The exterior form is virtually unchanged apart from new paint. Lin also added frosted glass to the front door sidelight, changed the side fence to ipe wood and added landscaping steps and concrete planter boxes, which she designed based on a photo she saw on Houzz.
Exterior paint: Dolphin; door paint: Pumpkin Cream, both by Benjamin Moore
The front door opens to this atrium, which originally wooed Lin and Tam into buying the house. In their research they saw that many people opted to cover Eichler atriums to add more interior square footage, but they chose to preserve it.
Lin believes a wood wall originally separated the interior and exterior and that a previous homeowner changed it to frosted glass.
AFTER: Lin took the connectivity a step further by adding clear, double-pane glass. She also replaced the concrete with an ipe wood deck and a fire pit. Mexican pebbles keep other areas clean looking and low maintenance. “We wanted to make it a place where you’d want to hang out as a family,” Lin says. Cube: Frank Gehry; glass doors: Palo Alto Glass
The atrium leads to the kitchen, where Lin removed a partial wall that had blocked views inside. With that and the frosted glass removed, this outdoor space has become a focal point.
Previous owners had painted the ceiling white. “I would have loved to have the original wood color,” Lin says. They had also added generic veneer wood cabinets and a Spanish terra-cotta tile floor.

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