Marin Home / BACKSTORY
architect Ann Bool of Ann Bool Design +
Planning, intending to keep the project modest. But as Zail and Wolfe talked more about
their family’s needs, it slowly morphed into
“Once we got started,” Wolfe says, “it just
made more sense to expand the scope.”
In the end, they went for an ambitious list of
renovations, including razing non-load-bearing
walls on the main floor, vaulting the ceilings,
They also excavated existing storage space to
create an expansive master suite. “I was worried
that a below-grade room would feel like a dun-
geon,” Wolfe says, “but it turned out great.”
The family’s now open-concept kitchen
features custom cabinets and premium appli-
ances, including a Rocket Espresso machine.
“This was Nolan’s purchase,” Wolfe says. “He
said, ‘Before you spend more on furniture,
I want to splurge on a machine that makes
a really good cup of coffee.’ ” For her, the
six-burner Thermador stove with a built-
in griddle and double ovens was the most
The home’s new focal point: an expansive main deck accessed through a set of La
Cantina bifold doors, new outdoor furniture
by Restoration Hardware and a gas-plumbed
fire pit by Solus.
Of course, living with construction wasn’t
easy: they stayed on site the first month and
then rented near downtown for nine months. “It
was fun for a while living in a location where the
kids’ friends were always dropping by,” Wolfe
says. When their own house was borderline habitable again, they piled back in and watched the
crew finish up for another two months.
“It took a lot to get to this point,” Wolfe
says, “but it was 100 percent worth it.” m
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IN 2004 JENN Y WOLFE and her husband, Nolan Zail, moved out of a rental in San Francisco and settled with their two young children into their first home together in the hills above Mill Valley.
“It had been renovated relatively recently,”
Wolfe says. “But it had more of a cottage vibe
— yellow on the outside with a white picket
fence.” While the house was generously sized,
the configuration wasn’t stellar. “We had this
tiny kitchen off in the corner,” Wolfe recalls.
“And a beautiful view, with no real place to
They teamed up with interior designer
gather as a family and appreciate it.”
Despite its quirks, the couple loved their
home. But as the years passed, and after
having a third child in 2007, the couple peri-
odically considered looking for a place with
a better floor plan. Ultimately, though, they
decided reworking their existing space made
more financial sense.
Jennifer Tidwell of Piper Sage Design and