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Going Central

A 19th-century Mill Valley cottage is right downtown.



WHEN INVESTOR/entrepreneur Tina Sharkey was growing up in New York City, she loved the independence of an urban adolescence, taking the subway or walking to restaurants on her own. As her own two boys became teenagers, she wanted to give them the same. But Sharkey, a single mom, lived on the waterfront in Mill Valley, with kayaks and seals. “It was beautiful,” says Sharkey, “but I wanted to get back to a village and community.”

So a year-and-a-half ago, Sharkey started putting out feelers among her Mill Valley friends. “Everyone was looking for her,” says Sharkey’s realtor, Marilyn Rich (along with Tracy McCulloch). “She has a wide network of friends and told everyone, ‘I want to be downtown.’”

Just as Sharkey was about to buy a large condo in downtown Mill Valley, her best friend, Lily Kanter (co-founder of Serena and Lily), sent her a text, saying that the 1890s cottage across the street from her house was for sale. Sharkey visited and knew immediately she’d found her home. It had not only plenty of room for the boys — including a “man cave” upstairs — but also plenty of wall space for Sharkey’s extensive art collection, which includes pieces by Marin native Zio Ziegler, Laurie Simmons (writer/director Lena Dunham’s mom) and Josh Gosfield.

The house itself is something of an artwork. Built on a bucolic lot with soaring redwoods, it’s retained nearly all of its original charm, with oak floors, crown molding and detailed window framing. A few years ago, the previous owners hired Mill Valley–based Richardson Architects to create a very organic addition, including a family room and master bedroom. Now the airy house, with a stunning kitchen/great room, straddles that pleasing tension between old and new, a juxtaposition echoed by Sharkey’s own approach to design.

With the help of Cleaveland and Kennedy Interior Design, Sharkey has created an eclectic style, pairing unlikely items from different decades, such as a long wooden table with white modular chairs and Donald Baechler art (the dining room) or contemporary Serena and Lily bedding with a sculptural white chandelier and an 1840s federal sofa (her bedroom). On the wooden porch out front, Sharkey, who loves to entertain, has placed a Swedish folk art table, surrounded by Serena and Lily chairs. She even installed a professional-grade outdoor heater above the table so she and her boys can dine outside on chilly Mill Valley nights.

But often, they’re not there, since their new home is right downtown, which is exactly what the former city girl wanted. “My sons can walk everywhere, and I can walk to the store or into town with the dog,” says Sharkey. “I’m so happy.”


THE DETAILS

WHAT SHE BOUGHT A four-bedroom renovated cottage

WHERE SHE BOUGHT Mill Valley’s Sycamore Park

LISTING AGENT Candace Nordstrom, Coldwell Banker

SELLING AGENTS Marilyn Rich and Tracy McCulloch, Pacific Union/ Christie’s International Real Estate

THE STATS Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $1,150

View the gallery below for more photos.

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