KRISTIN SENNETT, a realtor by trade, wasn’t looking to move from her longtime family home in Kent Woodlands. But when a colleague mentioned she had a serious buyer with the means to make a generous offer, she agreed to let the people tour. The offer came in and, well, it was too good to pass up. “We were already a half-empty nest,” Kristin says. “My older son was in college, so it was also the right time to downsize.”
Unsure where to put down roots next, Kristin and husband Larry decided to rent. “Our son was at a private school, which meant we could pretty much live wherever,” says Kristin. They settled into a Larkspur rental and didn’t get serious about finding a new place until their lease renewal was coming up.
The Sennetts then began viewing properties in a number of central Marin towns, including Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Rafael and San Anselmo. Four weeks into the hunt, a vintage cedar shake home in the flats of San Rafael turned up on the MLS. “I liked it, but some of the rooms felt tight,” Kristin says, “and I figured it was going to go for asking or over, and at that price I wasn’t interested.”
Much to her surprise, the house didn’t sell immediately. So she asked a contractor to tour the home and ballpark the cost of executing some design tweaks.
“I factored that number into my bid and made an offer,” says Kristin.
“They countered, I came up a tiny bit and the deal was done.”
Kristin and her husband, Larry, completed most of their updates before moving in. A wall came down between the formal living room and a downstairs office for more free-flowing gathering space. They also eliminated the door to the dining room. They replaced the kitchen’s countertop and backsplash. And the kitchen’s breakfast nook was reinvented with a little carpentry and a few custom-textiles designed by Well Made Home in Larkspur.
But according to Kristin, the best part of their new digs isn’t even in the main home. “We turned a detached storage room into a simple man cave,” she says. It’s the ultimate chill room for her two sons, plus occasionally her husband. “They’ll all be watching sports, while I’m in the house alone watching The Crown.”
The transition has been positive in all respects. “Our location is perfect. I love that all the neighbors are all so friendly,” Kristin says. It’s also better suited to Larry’s sensibilities. “He’s an East Coast guy and this house is a lot more in line with what he grew up with.” As for the kids, “they said they were fine to live anywhere as long as there was a hot tub.” (Spoiler alert: it’s on order.)
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “A Good Deal”.
WHERE THEY PURCHASED
Forbes neighborhood in San Rafael
WHAT THEY BOUGHT
4-bedroom, 3-bathroom Craftsman
Glen Williams at McGuire Real Estate
Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $700
Dawn Margolis Denberg has worked as a professional journalist for 20 years. Her work has appeared in top publications, including Wired, Shape and Parenting. She has also written several books for children including, The Men in Black Agent’s Manual The Official Godzilla Movie Fact Book. And, most recently, an episodic audio series for Tales Untold.