WALK IN TO THE Mill Valley home of Cherie and Mark Simpson and your eye is immediately drawn to the 16-foot floor-to-ceiling
window, with jaw-dropping Mount Tamalpais
views, that lies straight ahead. It’s this window
— and the Simpsons’ ability to see pulchritude
beneath the warts — that saved the now-hip
loftlike home from becoming a tear-down.
There were warts aplenty, too. When the
house went on the market in November 2011, it
had a mint-green exterior; a dark, obstructed
interior; and a stench of cigarettes so fierce
that most potential buyers turned around
right after walking in. Yet the Simpsons, who
have three sons, saw views and beauty.
“Fifteen years earlier, we had lived in the
house next door,” says Mark, “and we really
loved this area. The bones of the house were
good and as we were walking through, ideas
literally just started pouring out.”
They weren’t even in the market for a house
at the time. But they quickly called Cherie’s
brother, Mark Altes, a real estate agent, asking
him to help them broker a deal. “The house
was hideous,” says Altes, “but I could see that
it had tons of potential.”
Before they could uncover that potential,
the Simpsons had to clear several hurdles.
The house was almost in foreclosure. It had a
restrictive easement. They had to get their ideas
through the planning commission. And they had
to get rid of the smell. “I thought I’d just wipe
down the walls before we painted,” says Cherie.
“But when I started, there was literally yellow
tar running down the sides. It was gross.”
In January 2013, the Simpsons, archi-
tect Annie Lazarus and contractor Brian
Christiansen began to transform the home.
They cut through a front exterior wall and
installed glass doors that would lead to a
new Ipe wood deck with a concrete and glass
fire pit. They removed a closet and cabinets
to open the kitchen to the view and punctu-
ated the room with a dramatic 12-foot-long
Caesarstone island. They pulled mauve shag
carpet from the downstairs bathroom and
replaced it with a pebbly stoned floor, much
groovier and better suited to young boys. And
they added a master bath that has a triangular
stone shower, stylish porcelain tile made to
look like petrified wood and incredible views.
As the Simpsons walk around their home
now, they still marvel at what it has become.
“The fact that we were able to make it happen,
from the real estate and legal standpoint, all
the stars were in alignment,” says Mark. “It
was meant to be, right?” M