A San Francisco couple ended their search for the perfect weekend home when they stumbled across a house in Marin County situated in the most idyllic of settings. “What really drew us was the property,” the wife says. “There’s a beautiful view of Mount Tamalpais, and you don’t see any other houses. It’s not far from the city, but there’s a wonderful feeling of being removed.” In addition to the inviting atmosphere, the house also held the promise of more room for the large family to gather. “We have five kids— three in college and two in high school,” says the wife, “and we wanted a place with more outdoor and common space than we have in the city.”
Although they loved the lush surroundings, the couple felt the house itself needed a face-lift. To handle the transformation, the couple called on designer Martha Angus to enliven the Mediterranean-style structure with fresh new interiors. “Their home in the city leans toward traditional, so they wanted to go a bit more modern for this one—lighter, airier and more casual,” says Angus, who worked with senior designer Katie Braznell McCaffrey on the project. To create a clean starting point, the duo collaborated with architect Ken Linsteadt to remove some of the structure’s timber framing before painting the remaining beams and walls with gleaming coats of white paint.
Linsteadt also adjusted the house’s layout to better suit the owners’ needs, working with project manager Greg Layshock to make strategic changes to spaces such as the family room, which had been previously divided into two small cave-like rooms. “We combined the smaller rooms into one bigger one,” says Linsteadt about the space now containing the family room and breakfast area. He then lifted the ceiling and swapped the breakfast area’s stone fireplace surround for a sleek bronze one.
“Our goal was to find a consistent level of detail throughout,” says Linsteadt. “We gave it a modern take on the Mediterranean style.” Within the clarified plan, Angus and McCaffrey took their cues from the homeowners’ art collection. “It was important to them that we keep the background neutral to enhance the art,” Angus says. That, however, didn’t mean that the palette had to be boring. To keep things interesting, they infused each space with vibrant shots of color. “It’s kind of become our signature,” she adds. “And the clients were totally game.”
To that end, the designers surrounded the breakfast table with Wishbone chairs in varying shades of blue and covered a sectional sofa in the pool house with a sunny yellow ikat fabric. They chose a bright pink rug for the master bathroom and then centered the living room with a showstopping Yves Klein coffee table. “When we suggest that piece to most people, they say, ‘Are you nuts?’” Angus says about the Plexiglas design filled with shocking blue pigment. “But when we suggested it to the homeowners, the wife said, ‘We have to have one!’”
Although the dining room also has a pop of color with its bright blue lava stone tabletop, the unusual space—essentially a two-story silo—is defined by a different design approach. “We knew that we needed to do something that would completely change the acoustics,” explains Angus, referring to the space’s echo chamber effect. “We came up with the idea of tenting the room but only going halfway as high as the silo. It was quite an engineering feat.” The feat was carried out by builder Cory Covington, who handled the support structure, and the drapery workroom Fabric Walls. “The fabric was quite heavy,” says Covington, who worked as project manager with owner Glenn Goodman and superintendent Greg Nelson. “So we put an engineered beam across the room to support it. Then we used plywood around the perimeter, so they could put in brackets to support the rails from which all of the drapes hang.” The result creates a space both intimate and dramatic. “We used over 200 yards of Quadrille fabric to create the tent,” adds McCaffrey.
The designers continued the playful palette outside by appointing the back terrace with a comfortable sectional sofa topped with bright green cushions, echoing the surrounding grounds. “The deck is my favorite space,” the wife says. “It’s a great outdoor living room where we gather our kids before dinner and have coffee every morning. It’s a place where we can sit and enjoy what it means to be out of the city.”