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Make Room for Baby

A Mill Valley family moves out for this intensive remodel, but saves as much money as possible for the kitchen.



IN 2009, NEWLY single Marc Ialeggio purchased a home in Mill Valley’s Sycamore Park neighborhood and moved in with his then five-year-old daughter, Lauryn. But father and daughter weren’t alone long. His realtor, an old high school friend, sold Marc on another plan: ask out a mutual high school friend. Marc did. He and future-wife Chelsea quickly fell in love.

In their early years together in the house, Chelsea and Marc took on a few straightforward remodeling projects, including turning a walk-in closet into a powder room and completing the addition of a fourth room. “The previous owners had already poured the foundation but never completed the project,” Chelsea says.

After that, they agreed to put the brakes on additional remodeling while they got a better grip on how to utilize the space. Then, in 2013, daughter Francesca was born. With a new little-person in the home (and all the baby gear that entails) the need to optimize the floor plan and add storage became more pressing. So they pushed ahead on a comprehensive remodel.

The family packed up their belongings and moved into a tiny condo while a construction crew helped them reimagine the entire home. During that time, “there were four of us plus a dog living in a 700-square-foot space,” Chelsea recalls. “It was tight, but it was more important to put our money into a new home kitchen than into a temporary rental.”

While the entire home got a face-lift, the common areas saw the biggest changes. The couple gutted the kitchen and knocked down the wall between it and the living room, transforming a compartmentalized cottage into an open-concept home. Two bathrooms were redesigned. Furnishings included some splurges: a custom-built entertainment center, a sofa from Restoration Hardware, a West Elm coffee table and a Serena & Lily area rug. New master bedroom furniture is still on the to-do list.

The outdoor area also got a refresh. A well-worn patio was removed and fresh concrete poured in its place. Chelsea created an alfresco gathering spot by placing a contemporary Restoration Hardware sofa and chairs around a fire pit.

Marc and Chelsea have zero regrets about taking on a gut remodel. But they’re quick to admit it can be a challenge. “It’s a labor of love,” says Chelsea. And they’re planning to give the home more love in the months ahead: “We’ve got approved plans to re-side the house and add a one-car garage.”

The Details

WHERE THEY LIVE The Sycamore Park neighborhood in Mill Valley
WHAT THEY OWN A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath ranch
ARCHITECTS Adam Bittle and Anne Ravizza of Architecture Allure in San Francisco
INTERIOR DESIGN By owner
FAVORITE DETAIL Wide plank oak floors by First, Last & Always in San Francisco

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