If you follow along on my Instagram, then you might know that my husband Andrew and I recently purchased a home in Marin County for our family of four. As some of the rooms are nearing completion and ready for me to share, I wanted to start with some background first: what we were looking for in a home and how we found it. You can also see some of my decorating inspiration through the images on this post.
We truly loved our San Francisco apartment but had definitely outgrown the small space. It worked well for us when we had just one small child, Benjamin, but when we wanted to start trying for a second (Luke), we started to feel its constraints. We always knew we ultimately wanted to settle down and raise our family in Marin so on the weekends when we were free, we’d venture over the Golden Gate Bridge and check out open houses in the area. Each week, I would make note of our favorite open houses on my RedFin app and map out our course.
During the process, we had our top wishlist items. Here’s what we each wanted in a home.
- Something that needed a little work. I didn’t want anything that was recently renovated so that I could put my design stamp on the place.
- A top school district. Marin County has great schools in general, but there are certain towns within the county that have even better schools than others. Because we want to send our children to public schools, buying a home in one of these areas was important to me.
- Desirable neighborhood. Though this wouldn’t be our forever home, I wanted to buy into our forever town. I preferred a small home in a more desirable town/area than a larger home in a less desirable one.
- Great natural light. As a decorator, a place with beautiful light is important to me both aesthetically and emotionally.
- Something on flat land. Marin can be very hilly in areas, but I wanted a home that was on flat land so the kids could easily play outside in the yard and ride bikes one day.
- A backyard cottage. Since I work part-time from home, I loved the idea of having a place to turn into my office and retreat to during the day while still being close to my kids. If there wasn’t one already, I planned on having one built.
- Accessibility. Andrew loves having people over and he wanted a place that was easy for guests to get to. So, no houses on hilly, remote roads.
- Walkability. It was important to Andrew to find a home that had a few restaurants we could walk to. We knew it would never be like the bustling street we lived on in the city, but wanted some options within walking distance.
- Entertaining friendly. Andrew wanted a big kitchen and a great layout to entertain in.
- Move in ready. For convenience sake, Andrew preferred something that didn’t have too much work to be done.
- Pool. As long as I’ve known Andrew, he’s wanted a pool and finding a home with one would certainly be a bonus.
- Budget. Andrew was much more willing to be in a less desirable neighborhood than I was in order to get a bigger house.
We casually looked for over a year and probably saw more than 80 homes in the process, but not once did either one of us see one in our budget that we liked enough to even consider putting an offer on. Though I was pregnant with Luke during some of this time and we were running out of space at home, I wasn’t too worried. I knew we could make our small city apartment work for at least several months after the baby’s arrival if needed. So you can imagine my surprise when we unexpectedly found the one several months before my due date.
It was last October and I was about four months pregnant. Andrew was telling a new colleague at work that we were looking for a home in Marin to buy. His colleague mentioned that one of his good friends was planning to put his house on the market soon, but that he wanted to sell off market if possible, and that it sounded like it met a lot of our criteria. He put us in touch with the home owners through email and gave us the address. Separately, Andrew and I both drove by the house without mentioning it to the other. And separately we both didn’t think it would work for us (curb appeal is not its strong suit – but I hope to change that!). Then the home owner emailed us inviting us to come see the house and we thought we should go see it to make right by Andrew’s new colleague. Also, what was to lose, we thought.
As soon as we entered the house, we both instantly got that feeling. The feeling of familiarity and peace. The fact that both of us felt this same way was a miracle in and of itself as we had often disagreed about previous homes we toured. The home felt warm and welcoming, had great natural light, big bedrooms, a nice kitchen, and a phenomenal backyard (with a cottage and pool!). In fact, it might have been the backyard that sold us on the place. Something about it just felt so magical to me. And we absolutely loved the town (Kentfield), school district, and area it was in, which is definitely a forever area for us. In fact, as soon as we got home that night, I went to my Pinterest and started a secret pinboard of my decorating ideas and inspiration for the house.
We went home that night intuitively knowing that this had to be our first home in Marin. We asked the home owners if we could come back again with a family friend who is a real estate agent and soon after all the pieces began to come together. We put in an offer before the home was ever even on the market via our agent (who was above and beyond amazing). They countered once, accepted our next offer, and we went into contract in November. They requested a long escrow process and to close on March 1st. This worked well for us because I was due with Luke in late February and we did not want to move before having the baby anyway.
We officially closed on the house March 1st and Luke arrived 10 days past his due date on March 3rd. We moved into the house exactly one month after Luke was born on April 3rd after having all the interiors, including the kitchen cabinets, painted with Farrow & Ball paints. But that was all we did before moving in.
Since then we have slowly been making this house our home, tackling little projects here and there as we learn about the way we live in this space. Though there is still so much we want to do (kitchen and bathroom renovations, a bedroom addition, paint the exterior, install new hardwood floors throughout, a few landscaping updates, etc.), I am trying to embrace the undoneness of it all while simultaneously reveling in the energy and excitement I have over this new and most personal project: designing and decorating for my sweet family.
Stay tune for more updates soon as I share each room as they come together.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like seeing our previous home.