The skinny on Streng houses in Sacramento

There are about 3,000 Streng homes in the Sacramento area, and I just finished appraising one recently. I have valued quite a few Streng homes through the years since they show up in many local communities.

You may be wondering what in the world a “Streng” home is, so let me break it down in a nutshell. A Streng home is a mid-century modern (MCM) home built by the Streng Brothers and designed by Carter Sparks. Strengs have a modern feel to them, lower pitched roofs, high windows, few windows in front, skylights in many cases, and they often have terrariums too. Strengs were influenced by Bay Area builder Joe Eichler.

Here is a photo of a Streng home in Elk Grove:

An article from “The Beam Guy’s” website helps give insight into Steng homes.

The Streng Brothers seemed to have had an almost intuitive grasp of where the valley was headed, and what was needed. The enclaves are not sprawling, endlessly repeating, cookie-cutter tracts – they’re neighborhoods. Some (River City & Evergreen Commons) even include private parks that foster a safe and family friendly place to create that all-important sense of community. These homes were affordable, and the Streng Brothers fought for and received FHA approval — a legacy that is still profoundly shaping these lovely neighborhoods. Many are still filled with teachers, professors, and a variety of other professionals. Several have neighborhood associations with an online presence — filled with photos, upcoming events, residents’ stories, and even favorite recipes (see the links on the far left).

 Although categorized as mid-century modern (a.k.a. MCM, Postwar Modern, or California Modern), deserving of historic note and preservation, these homes truly were forward looking. They fit today’s “modern” lifestyle seamlessly. The Streng Bros. worked with Carter Sparks to create a home, uniquely suited to the hot Sacramento valley: interior atriums domed with tinted acrylic to block heat, exposed aggregate flooring enhances cooling, open living areas allow free flowing AC, and lots of natural sunlight without the “hotbox” effect.  Moreover, these homes provide a private retreat from the hectic 21st century world, with front exteriors that are setback and substantially closed-off from the road, and back exteriors with lots of windows and sliders that tend to open into beautifully landscaped backyards and patios.

Here are some relevant links in case you’re interested in Streng properties.

Blog cataloging restoration of an Eichler home in Land Park
Eichler Network
Floor Plans for Streng Homes
Modern Valley Blog
Pictures of Streng Houses on Flickr
Sacramento Bee Article
Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Tour
Streng Brothers Homes

If you live in or have lived in a Streng home (or would like to), I’m curious to hear your thoughts about Strengs. What attracts you to the design? What do you like most? Anything you don’t like? Or if you’re in real estate, have you sold many Strengs? In your mind, what is the perception among buyers for Streng homes?

Comments

  1. says

    Ryan, Great article and I love the links. I grew up in a Steng in Davis. My parents bought it new 1967 and I remember all of the other houses being built around us. 9 years ago my wife and I bought one in Foothill Farms, South Overbrook. We love it! The simpleness of the architecture make for a great setting for our art collection, does not compete at all. We also love that we can have privacy in the front of the house and still have lots of light. We don’t like not having more crawl space in the ceiling. There is not enough insulation for the summers. I think the fronts of the strengs are so much more inviting than the Eichlers. The Eichlers have a great wall in front that I think is ugly.

    • says

      Hi Tony, thanks for sharing your perspective. It’s always good to hear directly from Streng owners on the pluses and minuses of owning a Streng. You are so right about art fitting nicely with the architecture. Strengs do feel a bit more artsy anyway since they are not your typical ranch single-story house. I bet your place looks nice. I followed your link and it looks like you are an artist yourself.

      • Stephanie Law Ruff says

        I spent many of my growing up years in the house next door to Tony Natsoulas’ house. My folks bought it in the mid 60s and kept it until 2007. I love looking at the photos of the houses and reminiscing of years gone by and the fun of growing up in that neighborhood. One thing I remember distinctly was the front door of our house. It is so tall and was painted a bright orange! Glad to have found this site.

        • says

          Thanks so much for sharing Stephanie. I appreciate it. There is something about tall doors and bright colors. Yesterday an agent showed me an incredible MCM home she is going to list. The architecture is stunning on some of these homes.

  2. Victoria says

    Just purchased a Streng home in Carmichael and LOVE IT!! Insulation is fantastic. Cool in Summer Warm in Winter. Contractors opened up main room by knocking down a wall and now it is just this beautiful Great Room with Atrium and tons of light. I love it when delivery person comes to the home not expecting what is inside and says ” WHOA! ” These homes are Cool! Great fun! Just wish that someone would build homes like this today.

    • says

      Victoria, I’m so happy to hear that. Congratulations on your Streng home. I really like the Great Room concept and it sounds like it’s working for you. Enjoy and thanks for the comment.

  3. Sharia Calvin says

    I missed this post until I searched “Streng homes” after getting approved yesterday to lease a Streng home – woohoo! As you know, we have the furniture to fill it – it’s been a dream to live in one – and who knows, the owner may decide to sell to us some day. 🙂

    We love the light, the clean lines, the integration with nature and the outdoors- either with huge windows to lush garden views and/or plant-filled atriums. And they were built for the climate – very comfortable year-round.

  4. Bill McKnight says

    I had the opportunity to walk into a Streng home after having just left a Randy Parks home in the Cottage Oaks area. The difference in the interior temperature on a 95 degree day was remarkable. The homeowner in the RP home had not used her AC all day and it was perfectly comfy inside. The Streng was stifling, to say the least and the occupants had been home for a while.

  5. Davis resident says

    I just purchased a Streng home is Davis this summer…I love it! I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it was so appealing to me when I first looked at it, but it just spoke to me. It is a two bedroom, one bath, but has 1400 sq feet of living space…and it backs to the green belt and a beautiful lake on Northstar Park. The front has large windows with a wrapping window seat with storage inside all three seats, but my favorite feature is the imposing double-sided fireplace in the middle of the house that separates the living room from the office…with a massive brick chimney leading up to a soaring 14 foot ceiling at the top with windows on all sides at the roof line…very dramatic! And the two skylights in the kitchen and at the end of the hallway let in ample natural light…I can see the trees from every room in the house. So far this is the best home I’ve owned. I love coming home everyday 🙂

  6. Rebecca says

    I grew up in a Streng home and I am just curious where the house in the above picture is located because it looks exactly like the house across the street from my childhood home.

    • says

      Hi Rebecca. It’s been a while since I’ve wrote this post, so it’s hard to remember exactly. Though since I did mention Elk Grove, it would be somewhere in the vicinity of Superb Circle since there are some Strengs in Elk Grove right around that street. I’d be curious to hear if this is the street you are thinking of. Strengs really are all over the place.

  7. says

    Ryan, thank you SO much for this blog post! There are several friends that I can point to this post for great info when I try to explain what a streng home is!! Somebody mentioned the Randy Parks homes and I would love to see you write something about them, too! I think my all time favorite neighborhood is the Evergreen Commons area (just looked at a house on Park Green and I was drooling!!!!) Some of the best kept secrets are Streng remodels!! Thanks, as always, for your most informative blog!!

    • says

      Thanks so much Maddy. I appreciate it. Maybe I’ll have to do that Parks post one of these days. I agree that there are some really nice Streng remodels out there. There is definitely a sub-culture surrounding Strengs and other MCM homes too.

  8. says

    Hi Ryan:

    I’m curious . . . some of the sold half-plex homes in River College Square near American River College are billed as Streng homes. Any idea if this is accurate.?Thanks!

  9. Maureen says

    There are two Streng inspired homes in our desert town right across from each other. One had the atrium removed by the previous owners that covered it up with travertine, and the exterior planters with concrete (the wife hated plants, “why buy the house?” is my question!). The family had never heard about MCM, Streng Bros. or CarterSparks. They were very proud of their “update”, until they were selling the house and realized many buyers thought the indoor atrium/terrarium to be a great feature in the desert.
    The other house seems to follow a Mediterranean style decor. Both had the kitchens completely redone a few years ago, getting rid of the direct pathway to/from dining area, but it’s still the same floor plan as that in the Streng Bros. website. I want to track down the history, since they were both built in the 80’s, but we’re hours away from any Streng neighborhood.
    I’ve read your article on the value of properties that have been lost the original features that made them distinctive were modified. Would like to know what you think about these “tribute” properties.
    Here are the links to each:

    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/415-W-Howell-Ave-Ridgecrest-CA-93555/18910993_zpid/

    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/412-W-Howell-Ave-Ridgecrest-CA-93555/18910982_zpid/

    • says

      Hi Maureen. Thanks for the comment and the links too. One of the questions we always have to ask if there is a market for Strengs or MCMs in the neighborhood. Some areas tend to fetch a premium maybe or the house simply might sell on part with other homes in the neighborhood. I can imagine an isolated Streng in an area though where there were zero Strengs, and buyers might be left wondering what is going on. Why are there plants inside the house? Was this popular during the Brady Bunch era? 🙂 A friend just bought a Streng, and he was mortified the previous owner had altered the original feel of it, though his wife wants to “modernize” it so to speak. In short, we know something is valuable based on the comps. What story of value do the comps tell? Is there a value premium for original? Or are buyers wanting a total remodel inside? The proof is in the market.

      Thanks for the links. I appreciate it. I actually personally like the house much more with the atrium. The other one just doesn’t have the same Streng charm to me. 🙂

  10. Nick J says

    Just bought a Streng home and interested in removing the 2 skinny posts that support the 4″x12″ beams. I would think if they had used a single beam piece of wood instead of joining the two at the posts, the posts would not have been necessary. Got a saddle cleat to join the posts. Any one hear or seen a home where the posts were removed? Interested in your feedback. I will definitely consult a structural engineer but nice to know in advance it has been done before. Nick

    • says

      Hi Nick. Thanks for reaching out. I’m not sure I’ve seen this, though I bet it’s been done before. You might consider reaching out to “The Beam Guy” too (assuming you are local). I have never worked with him, but this might be up his alley. Your idea of a structural engineer is very key too. http://thebeamguy.com/

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