Marin Craftsman

Coming up with the design scheme for this Tiburon contemporary craftsman home was a labor of love for me. I was approached by a young couple who were just starting their family and wanted to do an extensive addition and remodel of a charming cottage in Tiburon. The home was originally a “railroad cottage” that served the local men working in the logging industry and on the railroad in the 1920’s and 30’s. The project was massive and required major excavation, careful planning, and thoughtful material selections. I was brought in at the earliest stages to review the architectural drawings and come up with a cohesive design scheme for the entire house.


We began working on the architectural drawings in October of 2009 and broke ground in late winter. The construction phase lasted nine months. During the early phase of the excavation and construction, I did an extensive design survey and intake with my clients. I discovered that both of them wanted to take risks — to find a way to create an interior that was both contemporary and traditional. They wanted to have fun with the design and not take it too seriously. Most importantly, they cared about an open floor plan, having lots of built ins, and having a kitchen that would serve as the “hub” of the home. In short, they wanted a very modern feel, within the context of a traditional Craftsman home.


We took advantage of every opportunity to use local artisans and craftsmen. The kitchen cabinetry were custom made in Santa Rosa as were all of the oak built ins.   The tile was custom made by a wonderful company called Blue Slide Art Tile that works out of Pt. Reyes Station. The custom concrete dining table was made by Pamela Holmes in Bodega Bay. And finally, at the installation phase of the furniture, my clients rented a Uhaul and we went together to the Alameda Flea Market to outfit their home with a smattering of truly unique antiques, pillows, and decor.


My clients wanted to bring in pops of color with their art, while keeping the walls and materials ivory, ecru, linen, grey and brown. The goal was to create a somewhat monochromatic palette that didn’t dramatically shift as you went from room to room. However, in the children’s rooms I allowed myself to go with a more dynamic and bold use of color. The Serena and Lily bedding was the greatest source of inspiration for the girl’s room, and I sourced a wallpaper tree from the Dutch designer Inke Heiland.


The view out the master bedroom window is of Old St. Hilary’s, an iconic Marin landmark that was originally built as a mission church in 1888. The couple loved to wake up and look out at the lovely rolling hills with the quaint, white church perched on top. I used that church as a launchpad for the design scheme of this home — it inspired the wallpaper in their bathroom as well as the tile in their kitchen. I used local slate in the exterior patio that blended so harmoniously with the colors that the surrounding hills turn throughout the course of the year. I found antique brass doorknobs and made them into coat hooks in the hallway. But the most important design element in this home was the choice of the Flos Skygarden chandelier designed by Marcel Wanders. When I researched this light fixture, I found that Wanders was inspired by antique decorative plaster when he designed the Skygarden. This seemed the perfect match for my clients who wanted to have a space that was at once contemporary and that also paid tribute to the history of their home. Everything in the house, given the open floor plan, needed to work with this light since it is so large and makes such a distinct design statement. It informed the fireplace wall, the other pendants in the kitchen, and the art that was selected.


The house was a two bedroom, two bath home, with a narrow galley kitchen.  The rooms were cramped and very compartmentalized — there was no feeling of flow to the home. It was covered in wall to wall carpeting, had no storage at all, and had extremely low ceilings. After the remodel and addition there is very little that is recognizable from the original home.