Marin Home / BACKSTORY
AMY AND MAT T Whitelaw had a specific list of what they wanted in the home where they’d spend the next 10 years of their lives: an easy walk to downtown, room
for Amy’s parents to visit and plenty of space for
their almost-teenage daughters to spread out.
They just didn’t know it would take one tortoise
and five chickens to make the dream possible.
The Whitelaws, who commute to corporate jobs in the city, were tired of having to
displace their younger daughter from her
Homestead Valley bedroom whenever Amy’s
East Coast parents came to stay. So in early
2013, they started looking for a bigger house.
Only a few months later, a Boyle Park
home — with a stunning in-law unit — became
available, and they wasted no time in mak-
ing an offer. The market was crazy-hot, so the
Whitelaws proposed to close in just four days
— and take the previous owners’ chickens.
“The only thing they countered us on was the
chicken head count,” says their realtor, Selene
Rose. “We said that three chickens could stay.
It turned out there were five.”
Their eldest daughter did not want to move.
To make it easier, they bought her Yertle the
Turtle — who was actually a tortoise and
“required a lot more maintenance than we
realized,” says Matt.
But the menagerie was a small price to pay
for the verdant street-to-street lot. The two-story home gives all the Whitelaws the privacy
they need and has three different living areas,
including a family room downstairs the girls
Upstairs, the home has a stylish kitchen
with gray and ivory cabinets, set against a
mosaic of sea-green glass tiles. An adjacent
family room, where the family frequently
hangs out, echoes the color scheme with an
aquamarine Mitchell Gold couch. Just off the
family room, there’s a deck, where playful
sounds from Boyle Park and the Mill Valley
Tennis Club waft up — making Amy, in par-
ticular, very happy.
The separate studio, however, is the property’s showcase. Its small kitchen is outfitted
with cherry cabinets below the counter and
white opaque glass cabinets above. The cork-floored sleeping area, a few steps down, is lit
by a wall of windows. And the bathroom, with
a heated pebble floor, feels European, with a
freestanding shower and no wall to separate it
from toilet or sink. Amy’s parents love it.
“We were really thinking, what’s the house
we want for the next part of our lives?” says
Amy. “What’s good for all of us, including my
parents and the girls?” The answer, it turns
out, came with a steady supply of eggs. M