Marin Home / BACKSTORY
Her plan called for 768 square feet of new
living space and a completely rebuilt garage
area. “We went round and round on whether
to put our bedroom or the kids’ rooms in the
addition,” Shaw says. “Ultimately, we decided
if we were going to pour all this money into a
renovation we ought to enjoy the new space,”
she adds with a laugh.
Indeed, the new master bedroom with
floor-to-ceiling windows and sweeping
views would likely be underappreciated by a
preschooler and fourth grader. Ditto for the
western red cedar accent wall, an intentional
continuation of the home’s facade. “ We liked
the idea that this wood paneling runs from the
front of the addition to the back internally and
externally,” Shaw says. Their new bedroom
also features an en suite bathroom, a roomy
walk-in closet and a Brazilian ipe wood deck,
which spills out into the expansive yard.
The second objective: a dedicated home
office. “What we wanted was a circular
flow from our bedroom to the office area,”
The office actually contains two separate
work areas, but “I just work off my laptop, so
we share this desk,” Shaw says, motioning to a
custom-designed walnut piece with matching
shelves by Oakland-based furniture designer
Robert Santee. Since Finn needs a little more
elbow room to make toy propotypes, the second, more utilitarian space is where he uses
his tools of the trade.
Transition between old and new spaces is
seamless. A new vestibule embodies the existing home’s midcentury modern feel. The entry
has a bright orange door surrounded by dark
wood walls, with upper windows to maximize
light without compromising privacy. Inside,
across from the front door, a set of glass sliders
open onto the courtyard back patio.
But now the family couldn’t be happier
The couple, who both work from home,
after nearly three years of work. “We love the
thoughtfulness of the design,” Shaw says. m
PRIOR TO STARTING a family, 1,500 square feet felt like plenty of liv- ing space for web designer Susie Shaw and her husband, industrial designer and toy developer Finn
Strong. Beginning in 1999, they lived com-
fortably in their midcentury ranch, which
straddles the line between the San Rafael and
San Anselmo communities.
spent many happy years laboring together at
their dining room table. But life changes when
children come into the mix.
Not wanting to move — they loved the house,
the neighborhood, their expansive views of Bald
Hill and Mount Tam — they hired an architect to
plan an expansion. But none of the ideas wowed
them, so Shaw and Strong felt no urge to proceed.
Then they were introduced to San Anselmo–
based architect Barbra Shands, who invited
them to tour her own home. They scrapped the
old concepts and, with Shands, began anew.