Our charming circa 1903 cottage in Mill Valley is just 9 miles north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge in scenic Marin County. This special home is featured in a recent issue of Better Homes & Garden’s Creative Home magazine. It has also appeared in California Interiors, an internationally acclaimed design book, and on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Home Section.
Filled with antiques, books, artwork and a grand piano, this is an elegant, comfortable home away from home close to the culture of San Francisco and the natural beauty of the San Francisco Bay, the Pacific Ocean and Mt. Tamalpais.
Our home has been a favorite of artists seeking a quiet retreat, couples enjoying a romantic getaway, local residents hosting out-of-town relatives, and families and good friends gathering for a special Northern California vacation. It's ideally located for easy day trips to San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma wine country, the beautiful coast of West Marin, and the East Bay cities of Berkeley and Oakland.
The cottage is built with rough old growth redwood plank walls and beamed ceilings enameled a luminous white. The Douglas fir floors have been whitewashed to a soft pink glow. Generous windows, French doors and the dining room’s glass solarium ceiling flood the interior with warm light filtered through the verdure of a mature garden with climbing roses and wisteria clambering over rooftops and arbors.
In the living room, a comfortable banquette with down pillows, English antique reading chairs and a French Louis XV style brocade love seat circle a wood-burning fireplace. We created the coffee table from a salvaged slab of antique mahogany. Across the room, built-in bookshelves house a collection of art and design books. A bird’s eye maple drop leaf desk holds Bay Area trail maps and guidebooks.
A wide archway joins the living room with the music room, featuring a 5 ft. grand piano and furnished with a velvet chaise and an English-style overstuffed sofa. The exterior wall of floor-to-ceiling 1920’s vintage black steel multi-pane casement windows is softened with antique Italian lace curtains. The beautiful green light from the windows is reflected in a wall-size mirror over the sofa.
A step down from the music room is the solarium dining room, with a rough-hewn antique farm table and vintage metal Chinese Chippendale garden chairs. The solarium continues the music room’s steel casement windows, wrapping around to the back of the cottage, where French doors lead to an ipe-wood deck furnished with teak garden benches, Adirondack chairs and a marble coffee table. The dining room and the deck share a glass solarium roof that is covered in white roses and wisteria each spring.
A half-wall bookcase housing our collection of garden books divides the dining room from a small media room/twin bedroom with a comfortable twin daybed sofa for watching the 42” plasma HDTV with home theater sound system. You may view the TV from the dining room as well, or draw vintage floral chintz drapes across the opening for privacy. The sofa can be made up as a twin bed, with memory foam mattress topper, high thread-count linens, down pillow, quilt and down duvet. The first floor bathroom with shower is en suite to this room.
There are CD and DVD players, a selection of music and videos, and a wide range of premium cable channels including HBO, Showtime, AMC, IFC, Retroplex, On Demand, etc. There is high speed WiFi internet service for your laptop computer.
The kitchen has custom-built mahogany cabinetry with pink marble counters and a butler sink. Stainless steel appliances include a Bosch dishwasher, Gaggenau gas cooktop with Italian range hood, electric oven and French door refrigerator with filtered ice and ice water. Small appliances including a microwave, 4-slice toaster, Francis-Francis espresso machine, Chemex manual drip filter coffee maker, coffee grinder, Cuisinart food processor/blender, rice cooker, waffle iron, ice cream maker and immersion blender. There’s a full complement of cookware and bakeware, sharp knives and handy gadgets. Tableware includes a truly extensive collection of vintage English china circa 1840-1940.
The kitchen’s library/breakfast nook is wrapped in white-washed pine bookcases filled with more of our book collection –– here fiction, poetry, cookbooks and reference volumes predominate. An antique pine table is drawn up to a cushioned banquette. Residing over all is a marble Buddha in the window.
The first floor’s full bathroom includes a shower tiled in sea green/blue glass mosaic. A steel casement window in the shower has stained glass panels of Chicago art glass in watery tones. This bathroom is located between the kitchen and the media room, providing an ensuite bathroom when the media room is used as a twin bedroom.
Upstairs, the master bedroom has a comfortable, Edwardian era English mahogany king bed. The bed is dressed with a memory foam mattress topper, quality linens and quilt, down pillows and duvet. The room’s rough redwood ceiling and walls and Douglas Fir floor are all enameled white. A wedding cake confection of a Venetian glass chandelier hangs from the peaked ceiling; halogen reading lights on both sides of the bed provide focused light. Japanese and Chinese cabinets act as nightstands; there’s a low wall of poetry books along one side of the bed. Artworks include a Chagall lithograph above the bed and charming amateur copies of a pink-period Picasso painting and a Monet.
A Dutch door in the master bedroom opens onto a private sun deck and wisteria arbor. Chaise lounges and a built-in seat make this a perfect spot for morning coffee or afternoon sunbathing overlooking the rose-covered rooftops and the garden below.
A portable crib can be set up in the master bedroom on request.
A second upstairs bedroom is furnished as a full (double) bedroom with an antique white iron bed dressed with quality linens, quilt, down pillows and duvet. A wall of casement windows looks out on a rooftop covered with climbing Cecile Brunner roses, a bower of pink blossom in late April and May. A maple-framed wall-size mirror at the foot of the bed enhances the sense of space in this small bedroom. A large built-in armoire has ample drawers and closet rods, as well as a gas fireplace and flat screen LCD HDTV with premium cable and DVD player. An Italian marble-topped vanity table/desk and a vintage bamboo bookcase complete the room’s furnishings. The yellow and white rose wallpaper is a vintage pattern that appeared in Scarlet O’Hara’s home, Tara, in the movie, Gone With the Wind.
The upstairs bathroom has a vintage clawfoot tub with hand-held shower spray. Appropriately painted shell pink, the bathroom displays an extensive collection of shells and shell-craft.
The cottage is filled with original works of art, antique furnishings and chandeliers. We are both artists whose media include painting, poetry, letterpress printing and vintage home remodeling. Our home is our favorite work of art, lovingly lived in and created over a quarter century.
The cottage is surrounded by a long-evolving garden of roses, wisteria, hydrangea, herbs, Mediterranean perennials and California natives. A front brick terrace has seating for two. The back deck looks out on a center courtyard with a fountain that is a favorite of local songbirds and hummingbirds; to the left is our studio, where one of us quietly works most weekdays; to the rear is “The Playhouse,” our own cottage retreat.
Laundry facilities in the studio are available in the evenings, weekends or by arrangement.
Parking is on the street. Sorry, no pets and no smoking. May not be suitable for young children; please inquire.