FOR ELSPETH SEDDIG, a naturopathic doctor, the decision to live small was as soulful as it was practical. “I enjoy living in clean, minimalist spaces,” she says. “If I have a house where my basic
needs are being met — a place to sleep, hang out and cook — that’s the
whole reason to live there.”
Seddig was living in San Francisco when she started looking for a
place in Marin six years ago. She had a dog at the time, loved hiking
and wanted easy access to trails. But she also needed a quick commute
to her office in the city. She could have afforded a larger home if she
ventured farther up the freeway but fell in love with this 824-square-
foot downtown Mill Valley home the minute she saw it. “I was just in
euphoria, it felt so good,” she says.
The home’s charms abound. Built in 1903 for Mill Valley’s postmaster, it’s
nestled on what is believed to be the smallest lot in town ( 2,009 square feet)
in a tree-lined neighborhood of much larger, expensive homes. With a stone-and-brown-shingled exterior, a cobblestone patio and a very old redwood
that shoots through the deck, the property emanates historical Mill Valley.
Inside, however, it’s all modern Zen, courtesy of an extensive remodel
by the previous owner. Once you enter the home, your eye is immediately
drawn to the stunning full-size kitchen, with Carrara countertops, dramatic gray and beige tile backsplash and Bertazzoni gas range, all proof
of a Marin truism: no matter how small the square footage, you can’t go
too high-end with the finishes. The only nod to size is the silver Fagor
refrigerator, a slender European model designed for small spaces.
The living area is equally stylish, anchored by a square metal gas
fireplace that Seddig installed after moving in. It heats the entire house
on most days, with her energy bills hovering around $30 a month. In the
summer, she opens the home’s French doors to cool off.
Just off the living room are two bedrooms, one used as a guest room/home
office, the other holding her queen-size bed. Across the hall from her room, a
marble-tiled bathroom includes a large Jacuzzi-style tub, Seddig’s favorite
feature in the place. It’s where she unwinds at the end of each day, grateful
to be home. “The house feels like a retreat to me,” she says. “Honestly, if I
could have afforded a bigger house, I wouldn’t have wanted it.” m