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Staying Local

A move to a new house in the same neighborhood offers more space and fun places to play.

NOVATO RESIDENT AMY Giomi was out on a run one day when she noticed a truck dropping off a for-sale sign with an arrow pointing up the hill. “I was just kind of curious about which house in our neighborhood had gone on the market,” she recalls. So, after completing her workout, she decided to investigate. “When I saw it I realized it was a house I’d always admired for its great front porch.”

And while she and her husband, Jerrad, were still at least two years away from upsizing, she figured it couldn’t hurt to look. It was, as they say, love at first sight.

The five-bedroom, three-bath house had it all, most importantly space for a growing family. “We’d just had baby number three and the older boys were sharing a bedroom,” Giomi says. “And we liked that it was in our same neighborhood so the boys would be near all their friends.”

What really sold them on the place: “We love the backyard for entertaining,” Giomi says. “It backs to an open space, so it’s really private. The kids can make noise and there’s no neighbor to be bothered.”

To date, most of the work they’ve done has been to the outside. They terraced the hill in the backyard, adding a generous gathering spot anchored by a large outdoor fire pit. “The kids also love using it as a jump-off point into the pool,” Giomi says. The front yard also got a makeover, and it serves as a second play space for the kids. “Our old house was on a busy street and there were always cars racing around,” she adds. At this house, the kids can ride bikes around the cul-de-sac, shoot hoops in the driveway or play tag without fear of collisions.

Updating to the inside has been minimal: “The house had wall-to-wall white carpeting, which doesn’t work with kids, so we ripped that up before we moved in and added hardwood floors.” They also repainted the interior, adding wainscoting and crown molding. And most recently they added sliding barn doors to spruce up the kids’ playroom.

Most of the furnishing they owned from their prior space transitioned well. However, the couple now had many more rooms to fill. “Our old house didn’t have a formal living room,” Giomi says. So they went online, ordering a white sofa and wingback chairs from Wayfair.com. Then she scored some great accent pieces at Port & Manor of San Rafael’s “Going out of Business” sale, including a large mirror and several decorative knickknacks to dress up the living room.

Additional changes will happen eventually. But for now the Giomis are simply savoring the space, as they have no plans to move: “We’re not thinking about leaving,” she quips, “unless we reach a point when we are too old to go up the stairs.”

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