Editor’s Letter: Remodeling, Building and Other Ideas of Home Sweet Home

Edit Letter Collage April 2024 Marin Magazine

I’ve been planning this letter for about a year. I started a modest home remodel in March 2023, and I envisioned writing a happy, yet slightly exhausted musing of how tough the project had been. The permits, the headaches — you know, the usual things those of us who embark on these “I have a vision” adventures. Instead, I’m starting over. The contractor I hired (breaking the rule about hiring a friend) got sick. After spending my entire budget, I am starting over. I got a spam call the other day asking if I was interested in selling my house, and after two minutes of talking to, I think, a human, they hung up.

What I’m trying to convey is that remodeling and building are not always easy. For me, it’s an art, a science and a leap of faith. And as showcased in this issue, hiring the right team. Architect Heidi Richardson had to do some creative map plotting to adhere to existing giant redwoods and setbacks to create a dream home in Mill Valley, and as Lotus Abrams so eloquently wrote about the Inverness cottage that was designed for a San Francisco-based wildlife conservationist, “the muted lime shade of the walls, reminiscent of new growth on the foliage outside” were found in Inverness’s natural surroundings. Let’s be real, these amazing homes are not created via a Pinterest board.

One positive aspect I do feel good about is having done my best to reuse materials and donate cabinets, doors and sinks. One would think that with our state’s dedication to sustainability we could be the leader in how gently used building materials are cataloged and easily made available to be recycled. Need a porcelain sink? A yellow interior door? Or a built-in bench? Check our statewide database. Oh, and perhaps there’s a tax advantage to using the system. A girl can dream. The reality of reusing materials is quite tricky, expensive and time-consuming. I was sad to learn that Ohmega Salvage closed last April — it was such an inspirational treasure trove of unique home materials serving the Bay Area and beyond for over 40 years. However, it’s not easy for these businesses to stay profitable.

Here in Marin we do have a plethora of groups working to bridge the gap between the dumpster and a happy home, such as Make it Home Bay Area, a non-profit furniture bank that provides gently used home goods for transitioning families in need. I love that they have been based at Northgate Mall’s donated space until they find a permanent home, win-win! And even though it’s a national organization, I was a huge fan of the recently closed Goodwill Donation Center in Mill Valley. They were so friendly, and I liked that (according to my most recent donation slip) ninety percent of every dollar donated goes to client services and creating jobs.

In this issue we also have an important article by Carrie Kirby on the challenging environment for home insurance here in California. She dives into the whys and what to dos — while it seems potentially devastating, it’s nice to know we are all in this together. As always, thank you for reading, commenting and being part of our Marin Magazine community.

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