Streng Atriums


We bought our home a few years ago now. I was hoping we might find a home that really felt quintessentially Californian, and really mark a change from our life in New York. The house we found (and immediately loved) is a mid-century modern home that was designed by Carter-Sparks and built by the Streng brothers—who still have an office in town!—back in 1964. It turns out that these homes’ design is optimal for the hot Sacramento Valley: you get a lot of light, but extended eaves keep the direct sun off of the windows.

As you can imagine I’d done as much research about these as possible at the time.  But my favorite bit of the research process was getting taken on a tour of a largely untouched Streng by a neighbor. I just came across these photos and regret not taking more. Between the plant-filled atrium and the crimson shag, it’s really fantastic.



One of the best articles I came across was in CA Modern and talks about the influence of and similarities with homes by Joe Eichler: “Eichler never made much impact in California’s hot Sacramento Valley. But his work profoundly influenced two brothers [Bill and Jim Streng] who created their own modernist neighborhoods in Davis and greater Sacramento.”

It goes on to talk about the indoor atriums one might find: “Sparks designed homes for a hot climate, which means air-conditioning and no radiant heat. ‘It’s a house you can live in, in this valley,’ says Bill Streng. It also means atriums that are open to living areas—not walled in with glass, which would have created a ‘hot box.’ Instead of being open to the air, like an Eichler, the Streng atrium is domed with tinted acrylic to block heat. Eichler built a similar ‘atrium’ in some homes which he called a ‘gallery.'”





The gentleman who lives in the house showed us the ink/watercolor sketches he’s done of the home over the years.





Even though there are a lot of these homes in Davis, they had fallen out of favor for a long time and many have been remodeled in ways that try to hide their age. It was so fantastic to get a peek into such an original residence—in all the word’s senses.

P.S. Here’s an old ad for Streng homes with some more article links. Also, a tour of Davis and our home tour.

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