Life changes and leaving a cherished home
after a decade inspire some reflection.
The therapeutic value of
sharing memories that honor the
time, love and humor that has
gone into making this house our
home has kept me sane.
AS I PUT my home up for sale this month, the October issue is arriving in yours. Home is where the heart is — it’s the place you feel safe, where you retreat from
the outside world. It’s also a personal aesthetic
statement. My soon-to-be-ex-husband, Peter,
and I have had two homes here in Marin. The
first, on Plymouth Avenue in Mill Valley, was
idyllic, with many young families raising children together. We joked that it felt like living
in a dorm, since the city limited expansion and
mandated that homes in the neighborhood
remain as starter homes. After we remodeled
our “shotgun shack” as we called it (we could
vacuum the house without unplugging the
cord), I loved creating hidden nooks and cran-nies within the walls, and we designed the space
to support our favorite pastime of entertaining.
I was addicted to remodeling.
In 2005 we moved into a fixer-upper in
Strawberry. I think the way my friend, a realtor who spotted it in a broker’s open house,
described it was “Total fixer, it’s horrible, every
room is a different color, good bones, sort of has
a view, you’d love it.” She was right, I did. We
lived there, took down some trees to open up a
jaw-dropping view, added a bit of square footage,
raised the ceiling to bring in the light, and created the ultimate family party house. Each paint
color was obsessively pondered, doors were
chosen for weight and feel, windows were placed
to capture the view, and a kitchen nook, ideal for
kids to do homework in while I cooked dinner,
was added. It’s a privilege to design a home.
As we move out more than a decade later to
find our own new homes and start new lives,
I’m finding the process bittersweet — grateful
for the years we spent here and sad to leave it
behind. I would love to pass on the “if I had more
money, I would…” list to the next family, because
much to Peter’s chagrin, I had an ongoing list of
to-dos. Reflecting on my job, I’m sure being sur-
rounded by continuous shelter porn (industry
term for all the beautiful homes we feature in
this magazine) was partly to blame.
To get my head around this stage of my life,
I’ve started writing about the deconstruction
of our house (and marriage) room by room. I
created a Google doc that I have shared with
close friends to keep me on task. The therapeutic value of sharing memories that honor
the time, love and humor that has gone into
making this house our home has kept me sane.
In this doc, I’ve rehashed mundane details,
like how we got our gorgeous cypress dining
room table while visiting my mother-in-law’s
place in San Miguel de Allende. We thought we
had found the deal of the century, purchased
and delivered from Mexico to Mill Valley, for
under $1,000. Turns out the shop was a drug
front. In the bathroom, we didn’t initially consider that the pointy sink in the powder room is
the ideal height to impale a toddlers’ temple or
a pregnant women’s belly, and men taller than
5-feet- 9 needed to also be careful. The boxes of
Christmas-light polar bears I bought on sale 10
years ago, still unopened after Peter pointed out
the ironic fact that these energy-sucking pieces
of plastic were actually part of the reason these
majestic creatures were dying out.
In the month leading up to our own bro-
ker’s open house, we spent hours tending to
some easily handled deferred maintenance —
cosmetic stuff we should have done years ago.
I urge you to take care of your homes, refresh
that paint, re-sand those railings, polish those
floors and enjoy living in your home’s potential before you turn around and sell it. Come
to think of it, this kind of attention is important to apply to a spouse as well.
We hope you enjoy the inspiring home
design in this issue, and as always, we appre-
ciate your feedback — let us know how your
home reflects your philosophy.
Mimi Towle, Editor