Last updated September, 2007.

We are excited that we own an Eichler home with an atrium. The atrium is an open space around which the house is built. It is a private courtyard with large glass panels, letting a lot of light fall into the house.

If you enter through the front door, the atrium is the very first room you will see. Most people who come to our house for the first time, and open the front door, are surprised to see that they are still outside.

Old situation

When we bought our house in 2001, we immediately fell in love with the tropical look of the atrium. It had a lot of plants in hanging baskets, but it was a lot of work to water them. The atrium came with a jacuzzi (hot tub), positioned in a corner of the atrium. The previous owners had filled up the L-shaped planter box opening with concrete to be able to put the jacuzzi there. Although we liked the jacuzzi, we decided after a couple of years that it took too much space, and sold it. Furthermore, the wall between the carport and the atrium, originally made from frosted glass, had three wooden panels, and the space above that wood was filled with a white lattice screen.

What we changed

Current situation

We are very happy with the way our remodeled atrium turned out. It has the tropical feel we were hoping for. Welcome to our jungle retreat!

Our atrium still has the original concrete slabs. One slab has a crack but it is not in bad shape otherwise. I like the way that the beams that support the roof correspond to the layout of the slabs.

The restored glass wall between the atrium and the carport lets in a lot of light, so that the carport is a lot brighter. At night you can see the interesting silhouettes of the bamboo palm we planted in the carport through the glass.

The planter box in the middle of the atrium gets full sun most of the day. It is filled with a topiary shrub, a beautiful but dangerous Agave (I cut the needles but I keep on getting cuts), and some other succulents. It is amazing how much the Agave has grown since we bought the house.

The planter box near the office gets 4 hours of morning sun, but is in shade the rest of the day. Last year (2005) I planted an Alpinia zerumbet (Shell Ginger), which seems pretty happy. When it is in full sun in summer, it rolls up its leaves, but later in the day when it is in shade, the leaves open up again. It has not yet bloomed.

The rest of the plants have recently been added, when we removed all non-original concrete, and restored the L-shaped planter box. I planted mainly houseplants, to create a tropical feeling. Most of these plants are in shade all day, and are sheltered from the cold by the overhanging roof. I hope they will survive their first winter!

The following pictures show some of the plants we selected. On the left picture you will see Calathea roseopicta, Calla lily (with the yellow flower), and Sansevieria. In between, I planted Soleirolia soleirolii (baby's tears). The next picture features Alocasia Green Velvet, which has really cool velvet-looking leaves. The plant in the corner of the third picture is Chamaedorea seifrizii, the bamboo palm. This is the same plant as we have in the carport. It seemed impossible to order his year, so I took some offshoots from the carport plants and planted them here. I hope they will survive the cloning experiment!

Here are some more plants in our atrium. First, Dracaena, a true indoor plant. We will see if it lives through winter here. The next pictures show the two Fatsia japonica plants next to the entrance, which add to the tropical feel.

All plants in the hanging baskets are plastic plants. They're from Ikea, and look pretty real from a distance. Actually, most visitors do not even see that they are fake. It sure saves me a lot of watering.....

The two wicker chairs, hanging baskets, and plastic plants are from Ikea. The plastic planting pot next to the chairs is from Target. Hi Frodo!

The atrium leads to the real entrance of the house. There is a little hallway with three mirrors that give an interesting reflection of the Fatsia plants. Welcome to our house!

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