Amy and Darin Fierstein anticipated a short
stay — five years max — when they bought a starter
home in Mill Valley’s Sycamore Park neighborhood.
But here’s what happened: they fell in love with the
community, and after a bit of soul-searching they
chose to build out rather than move out. Along
with interior renovations, they decided to turn a
sad-looking yard into a spectacular open-air rec
room. “It was nothing but dead space,” Amy recalls.
“Basically, a place to store the garbage cans.”
To make it all happen, they turned to the home’s
interior architect, Kamala Mostert of San Francisco,
and master gardener Kristin Flynn of Mill Valley.
“Kamala designed the porch and poured concrete
slabs and handled the built-in barbecue,” Amy says.
“Kristin did pretty much everything else.”
Running the length of the fence is a 41-foot-long
putting green. “You plug up the holes and it becomes
a bocce ball court or a place to play corn hole,” Amy
says. An outdoor ping-pong table is strategically
sited on a raised wraparound poured-concrete patio
fronting the sons’ bedrooms. Oh, and there’s a prac-
tice net for honing soccer skills. “With t wo boys and
a dog living here, it’s all about balls,” she quips.
When the family isn’t throwing or catching
something, they’re watching professionals do it on
the home’s outdoor TV; the 46-inch screen is manu-
factured by SunBrite to withstand the elements.
“We love it because you can leave it out uncovered
all year and it’s completely fine,” Amy says. “Plus
you never have to worry about sun glare.”
Weatherproof the TV may be, but its owners
are not, so they mounted it on the wall of the new
250-square-foot covered porch. “We could have
added this space to our home’s indoor footprint, “
Amy says, “but it was a way to blend our indoor and
The yard is now the place where the neighbor-
hood kids come to play, but it’s also a respite for
Amy, Darin and their friends. A built-in bench and
two Innit chairs placed around a gas fire table are
a gathering spot for cocktails, and Amy, a jewelry
designer, hosts frequent trunk shows in the new
space: “I’ve entertained up to 100 people,” she says.
“For a small yard it works surprisingly well.”