This Home Knows How to Age Gracefully

Accessible House



WHEN OLDER MARIN residents say they’re buying a house for accessibility reasons, a few images pop into mind: walk-in bathtubs, extra handrails and an utter lack of style. Francesca Peck, a retired psychotherapist, begs to differ.

Peck’s Kentfield home is the definition of style, filled with an eclectic mix of modern art, antique metal objects, and colorful furniture. And yes, it’s all on one floor.

That was one of Peck’s “musts” when she moved here from her four-level home in Sausalito. She had bought the Sausalito house on a whim, after many years in Kentfield — a decision she regretted during a 3 a.m. windstorm one night, when she had to walk down four levels (after a hip replacement) to check something banging against the fence. “I walked upstairs,” she says, “and said, ‘This is not going to work, long-term.’”

So Peck and her realtor, Stephanie Ahlberg, began looking for a one-level house with a pool (which she depends on for her health) and a warmer climate. When Peck saw this home online, she thought it was perfect.

Still, Peck, a serial renovator, could not resist making a few changes, even though the house was essentially done. She repainted the entire place, remodeled the master bath and worked to warm up the modern home. A striped Gervasoni couch and chair, as well as a brown deep shag rug, now furnish the living room. Antique metal ice-fishing lures sit in a bowl on the large square table. A pillow that says “Be Nice or Leave” rests against the couch.

The family room is equally fun. In the fireplace, Peck has placed a metal “nest,” filled with square, circular and cylindrical fireplace forms. Above it, she’s hung a modern painting by Pamela Smilow that echoes the “grellow” (green/yellow) leather Italian chairs nearby. And over the room’s dining table — ringed by mismatched chairs — she’s put an industrial metal lamp originally from a school gymnasium in Poland. “Cesca,” says Ahlberg, “has the most wonderful taste of any client I’ve ever had.”

That’s especially apparent in the backyard, which Peck overhauled. She ripped out the grass and expanded the steps to more easily reach the 45-foot pool. In the process, she created a stunning minimalist concrete deck, edged by a gabion — a metal cage filled with construction rocks — that functions as a simple art piece.

Peck did make concessions to age, but nothing that reeks of AARP. After moving in, she realized that she could not use the finger channels that open the kitchen cabinets. So she’s replacing them with handles, most likely from Miele, maker of her oven. They’ll be stylish. Of course.


WHERE SHE PURCHASED The Laurel Grove area of Kentfield

WHAT SHE BOUGHT A contemporary three-bedroom home

LISTING AGENT Sarah Kowalczyk and Lotte Moore, McGuire Real Estate

SELLING AGENT Stephanie Ahlberg, Hill & Co.

STATS Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $893

This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Aging Gracefully”.