A Place to Roost

AMY AND MATT Whitelaw had a specific list of what they wanted in the home where they’d spend the next 10 years of their lives: an easy walk to downtown, room for Amy’s parents to visit and plenty of space for their almost-teenage daughters to spread out. They just didn’t know it would take one tortoise and five chickens to make the dream possible.

The Whitelaws, who commute to corporate jobs in the city, were tired of having to displace their younger daughter from her Homestead Valley bedroom whenever Amy’s East Coast parents came to stay. So in early 2013, they started looking for a bigger house.

Only a few months later, a Boyle Park home — with a stunning in-law unit — became available, and they wasted no time in making an offer. The market was crazy-hot, so the Whitelaws proposed to close in just four days — and take the previous owners’ chickens. “The only thing they countered us on was the chicken head count,” says their realtor, Selene Rose. “We said that three chickens could stay. It turned out there were five.”

Their eldest daughter did not want to move. To make it easier, they bought her Yertle the Turtle — who was actually a tortoise and “required a lot more maintenance than we realized,” says Matt.

But the menagerie was a small price to pay for the verdant street-to-street lot. The twostory home gives all the Whitelaws the privacy they need and has three different living areas, including a family room downstairs the girls have commandeered.

Upstairs, the home has a stylish kitchen with gray and ivory cabinets, set against a mosaic of sea-green glass tiles. An adjacent family room, where the family frequently hangs out, echoes the color scheme with an aquamarine Mitchell Gold couch. Just off the family room, there’s a deck, where playful sounds from Boyle Park and the Mill Valley Tennis Club waft up — making Amy, in particular, very happy.

The separate studio, however, is the property’s showcase. Its small kitchen is outfitted with cherry cabinets below the counter and white opaque glass cabinets above. The corkfloored sleeping area, a few steps down, is lit by a wall of windows. And the bathroom, with a heated pebble floor, feels European, with a freestanding shower and no wall to separate it from toilet or sink. Amy’s parents love it.

“We were really thinking, what’s the house we want for the next part of our lives?” says Amy. “What’s good for all of us, including my parents and the girls?” The answer, it turns out, came with a steady supply of eggs.


WHERE THEY PURCHASED The Boyle Park area of Mill Valley

WHAT THEY BOUGHT A renovated 1949 four-bedroom home

LISTING AGENT Dubie Breen, Coldwell Banker

SELLING AGENT Selene Rose, Pacific Union International

STATS Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $850–$1,050

Check out the gallery below for more photos of the Whitelaws' home.