How investigating Eichler roots led couple to VCT and cork tile as their flooring picks

This is a part of an article that was published in the Eichler Network eZine. See reference to the source at the end. It is re-posted on the blog section of Go2 Design Studio.

Light and airy VCT tile (as pictured above) was the main flooring choice for Karen Nepacena and John Shum, East Bay Eichler owners who have been documenting the impressive, mostly-DIY transformation of their Rancho San Miguel home for the past few years. Photos: courtesy

Two of the Nepacena-Shum flooring choices: dark-colored cork for the hallway and bedrooms (left) and porcelain in the bathroom.

The cool look of VCT tile. Photo: courtesy Joe Barthlow

Variations on cork tile (left – top and bottom) and VCT tile (right).


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Karen Nepacena of Destination Eichler and Severine Secret of Go2 Design.







Everybody comes in on the ground floor in making a decision about reflooring his or her home. But it’s important to realize, you don’t have to stop there.

The price elevator goes both up and down and has numerous levels, some definitely more appropriate for modern homes than others.

Take Karen Nepacena and John Shum. They’re the Walnut Creek couple behind the engaging blog site, which chronicles the remodel of their Eichler home and has now spun into an interior design service. In 2013 they moved to their Rancho San Miguel neighborhood from a non-Eichler home that had a flooring material to which they had grown accustomed.

“We were considering hardwood originally,” Karen said of their old home’s flooring that they thought might also work in their Eichler. “The more we researched about Eichlers…[the more] we personally wanted to go more authentic.”

On their blog, Karen and John list five key factors for choosing Eichler flooring: budget; durability and maintenance; preferred style; current flooring; and condition of radiant hearing, if any.

“We chose vinyl composite tile [VCT] for a bunch of reasons,” Karen explained. “One of them was that it was [very similar to] an original flooring that Eichler used…We have VCT in our main living spaces.”

Severine Secret, owner of Go2 Design Studio in San Jose, wholly concurs with the couple’s decision to stay with one material throughout the kitchen, living, and dining rooms.

“Because of the open plan, the space will feel bigger and consistent with the pure, simple design aesthetic of Eichlers,” the interior designer said. Secret, who has aided in this decision by many Eichler owners, added, “The bedroom materials can be different, as well as the bathrooms.”

“We have cork in our private spaces, bedrooms,” said Karen. “We really like how cork feels on our feet. It’s much softer.”

Karen and John are dedicated do-it-yourselfers on a budget, and the low cost of VCT was also attractive. Cork is in the higher price range of appropriate flooring materials for Eichlers, along with concrete, bamboo, and wood. Natural stone and porcelain are on a middle tier, and the cheapest are vinyl, ceramic, and laminate.

“Bamboo is a very ‘green’ material because it is rapidly renewable and needs very little energy to grow. It is much greener than wood,” Secret commented. “It is strongly encouraged to be used in construction and can contribute to LEED points.’

“Natural cork is generally not stained and is very durable,” she said. “There are lower-cost versions that have been surface-stained and will scratch.”

Secret said her favorite flooring design for Eichlers is “a mix of cool materials” (like concrete or linoleum) and warm materials (like cork).

“The materials themselves are not where the cost is—the labor that it takes to install them is the factor that affects pricing,” the designer cautioned. “Concrete is more expensive than any other materials because it is labor intensive.”

“Your preparation on the floor before you get to the VCT can cost you,” admitted Karen. “You have to have a perfect floor. Otherwise, you’re going to have bumps and cracks. It’s still the lowest-priced option.”

“Some people put carpet down,” she sniffed. “That’s not anywhere close to original.”

Two years after installing their floor, Karen and John and their children are comfortable and pleased with their selection of VCT and cork.

“Both of them for cost, durability, and functionality,” said Karen, adding that their bathroom floors are actually a third material, porcelain tile. “We’re really happy with our choices.”