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Design & Inspiration

Stories: Destination Eichler

By Lindsey |

Midcentury modern is here to stay. Teeming with Warholian hues and playful patterns, Interior Designer, Karen Nepacena's Destination Eichler Story embodies an enduring design era.

Loving Karen's expert take on midcentury design? Check out her Story and shop her top tile picks (you can also head to her Eichler-inspired Pinterest Board for more inspiration). Each of Karen's sample packs comes with a 2 x 4 color chip in Loch Ness, Aqua, LagoonMesolitePyriteTurquoiseChartreuse, and Stilbite:

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Influenced by the materials and motifs that defined the period, Karen chose midcentury modern mainstays like chartreuse, turquoise, and pops of red to bring her Story to life. Keep scrolling to learn more about Karen and the inspiration behind her Story. 

Meet Karen! 

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Tell us more about your Walnut Creek-based design firm, Destination Eichler
My husband John Shum and I started a design renovation blog after purchasing a midcentury modern Eichler home. We originally wrote the blog to chronicle our renovation journey. After a few years, we started to get inquiries from other homeowners asking if we could help with their home design projects. We took on a few clients on the side, before I eventually transitioned from my full-time corporate career to focusing solely on providing interior design services.

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Tile Shown: Loch Ness 2x8 // Design: Destination Eichler // Photo: John Shum

What keeps you inspired?
I love stepping into older midcentury modern buildings and seeing original architectural details still intact. It's like walking back into history and getting a glimpse of what went through an Architect or Designer's mind at the time they were designing the property or space. I love helping people preserve older architecture, while making the space functional for the way people live today.

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Design: Destination Eichler // Photo: John Shum

Do you have a design philosophy? 
Finding the right balance between respecting a home's architecture and character, bringing in modern functionality and most importantly reflecting the personality of the people who live there.

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Tile Shown: Kasbah Trellis Neutral Motif// Design: Destination Eichler// Photo: John Shum

Click here to learn more about this project. 

What's something that most people don't know about you?
I was a professional ballet dancer before going to get my undergraduate's degree. Becoming a dancer takes a ton of perseverance, blood, sweat and tears, but those years really helped form who I am today. That same work ethic from dancing also helps tremendously when running your own small business!

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Tile Shown: Starburst in White Motif // Design: Destination Eichler // Photo: John Shum

You're one of our Storyteller Contest winners! Tell us more about the concept behind your collection:
The Destination Eichler Story concept revolves around color and pattern, which hugely influence our work. I design spaces for many midcentury modern projects, so I find a lot of inspiration from midcentury modern design history books and iconic designers/designs from the period. Whether it's textile design, graphics/typography, or fashion and art, I like to draw from those historical details, and try to bring them to life in a fresh way.

Karen's Inspiration:

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How did you choose the 8 colors in your Story? 
The mid-century modern era was full of fun pops of color. Designers such as Ray and Charles Eames are also very influential to my work. Their inventive use of color and pattern-play especially resonates with me; whether it's products they designed or their own iconic homes. Mesolite is a bright, bold color found as an accent color in their work, plus who doesn't like a surprising pop of red?

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Tile shown: 2x4's in Pyrite, Turquoise, Chartreuse, Stilbite, Loch Ness, Aqua, Lagoon, Mesolite

Pyrite reflects the prevalence of concrete and cinderblock materials commonly used in building construction during the era, while Loch Ness represents some of the deeper tones of architectural trim work in many midcentury post and beam homes. 

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Tile Shown: Pyrite Picket // Design: Destination Eichler // Photo: John Shum

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Tile Shown: Loch Ness 2x8 // Design: Destination Eichler // Photo: John Shum

Click here to see more of this kitchen. 

I collect vintage pyrex and many of my housewares share this similar palette, which is why I chose bright colors like Stilbite, Aqua, Turquoise, and Lagoon. I also inherited Egg Style Chairs from the 1960s that are Chartreuse, which is a color that works so well in midcentury inspired spaces.

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Tile Shown: Lagoon Diamond Escher // Design: Destination Eichler // Photo: John Shum

See more of Karen's Escher kitchen here

Why do you love working with tile?
Other artists use media, such as paint or clay to create their art. For me tile can be used in different ways to create a mood or make a statement. For example, a monochrome palette with a straight set pattern reads so differently than a mix of multiple glazes to make a pattern play. The possibilities are endless, but that's what makes tile design so fun. 

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Tile Shown: Aqua 4x8 // Design: Destination Eichler // Photo: John Shum

See more of this Aqua bath here

Three best design tips?

  • Find balance. If you go bold on one element on the space, for example a real showstopper kitchen backsplash, then balance the other materials and elements so that they aren't competing for attention. 

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Tile Shown: Diamond Stitch in White Wash, Chartreuse, Dolomite, and Akoya  // Design: Destination Eichler // Photos: John Shum

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Click here to see more of this project! 

  • Have a surprise element. Whether it's bold pattern in wallpaper or a unusual color accent, it's these special details that can really make a space shine.

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Brick Shown: Aleutian // Design: Destination Eichler// Photo: Christopher Dibble

  • Live in a space for awhile before embarking on a big design overhaul. It allows you to learn how you use and interact with a space and this learning helps you when deciding what kind of adjustments to make to a space. 

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Photo: John Shum

What Fireclay product would you love to use in your next design?
I am still waiting for that perfect project where we get to use Stilbite! That happy pop of pink is so playful and would be perfect to put into a period home, such as a 1950s bathroom. 

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Tile shown: Stilbite 2" Hex

Mad about mod?  Order your Destination Eichler sample pack now! Need some help? Simply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly. 

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