From City Living to a Quiet Home in Marin

Parents and a brother lure a sister and her daughter to Marin.
Marin family home
Expanding the home’s footprint left room for a piano. Photos by Vivian Johnson.

THE PRESIDIO HEIGHTS neighborhood that Jacquie Dara and her daughter, Mia, called home for six years suited them fine, though Jacquie periodically toyed with the idea of relocating to Marin to be closer to her brother and his family. Her parents loved the idea and ran with it. “Unbeknownst to me, they decided to take my vision a step further,” she says with a laugh.

Marin home

The window position was flipped in the living room.

The real estate intervention began when Jacquie’s dad and stepmother came to visit her in the fall of 2017. “I dropped them off at my brother’s house so I could take my daughter to the doctor,” Jacquie recalls. While she was gone, her parents and brother perused the MLS, found what they perceived to be the perfect place and did a quick drive-by. “I got back from the doctor and they were all staring at me and I was like, ‘What’s up?’ And that’s when they said, ‘We found your house.’ ”

Marin family home

A sun-drenched yard.

The property they’d identified was a four-bedroom, two-bath bungalow a stone’s throw from her brother Ken’s place in Strawberry. Ken, who as it happens is a realtor by trade, had already booked an appointment for his sister to go see the house. An hour later the family piled into the car to check it out as a group. “The minute I walked in, I just loved the feel of it,” Jacquie says. “I didn’t look at other places. It was one and done.”

Marin family home

The master suite.

She closed on the property in November 2017. The place was in great shape; the previous owners had already gutted the kitchen and expanded the home’s footprint to include a spacious new master suite. Still, she wanted to make the space her own while honoring the existing design. That entailed expanding the footprint by another 100 square feet, allowing her to carve out space for a powder room, entry vestibule and dining area and “to create a space for our piano,” she says. “I also remodeled the guest bathroom, flip-flopped the position of the living room windows and sliding door, and added a fireplace as well as built-ins.” The home’s exterior got a refresh too, including new paint, siding and doors. She extended a perimeter fence, added a bluestone patio, re-landscaped and revamped a side yard retaining wall.

Marin family home

The new powder room.

As for furnishings, Jacquie was able to incorporate most of her old pieces into the new space with only a few additional purchases. “I got my outdoor furniture from Terra in Mill Valley and a new round dining table and living room sectional from Ethan Allen.”

Marin family home

An open-concept kitchen.

It’s been just over two years since Jacquie and Mia traded city living for a quieter life in Marin, and they couldn’t be happier. “It’s nice having family around for extra help,” Jacquie admits. “We swap kids and dogs all the time.”

Marin family home

Jacquie Dara and Teo.

Marin family home.

A fresh coat of paint and a new front door add curb appeal.

For column consideration, please send photos and a description to dawn@marinmagazine.com.

Categories: Backstory, Home & Garden