Coming in First

OCCASIONALLY, FIRST LOVE really is the best love. At least it was for Tiffany and Tony Moraes, when they started house hunting last year.

The Moraeses had been living in Novato, in a 1,600-square-foot 1957 home with two young children and a black lab, and were bursting out of the place. “Literally, it was like a Tetris puzzle,” says Tony. “If we brought something into the house, something had to go out.” They wanted more space, and if they could get an open floor plan, good schools, and a cul-de-sac where the kids could ride their bikes, all the better.

Last January, the couple, who were high school sweethearts, decided to visit open houses to see how much they could get on their budget. This house was one of the first they saw, and it was the first they fell for. They didn’t make a bid because they hadn’t officially begun their search. But over the next couple of months, they compared every place they saw to it, a 3,400-square-foot home with open floor plan and Scandinavian-influenced design (the former owners were Danish).

“I always tell my clients that if you keep thinking about a house, there’s a reason,” says their realtor, Megan Pomponio. The Moraeses kept tabs on the house, and after another offer on it fell through, they finally made a bid themselves.

Smart move. The home, built in 2000, is the perfect antidote to cramped living. The entryway, which sports a dramatic chandelier akin to a deconstructed metal fan, has a 22-foot-high ceiling. Up a few stairs, the living room and dining room, which are brilliantly sunny because of a series of tall, slender windows, has ceilings 14 feet high.

After moving in, the Moraeses were so enamored of the home’s airy feel that they changed their decorating style, from a farmhouse look to more midcentury modern. With the help of Anne-Christine Pajunen, an in-house designer at West Elm, they created a cool but comfortable look, with a gray chenille wool couch and two gray-blue West Elm Retro Wing chairs in the living room, all accented by colorful pillows purchased at Target.

The kitchen, remodeled by the previous owners, has an equally clean aesthetic, with white laminate cabinets, black granite countertops and a gray tile backsplash. Just off the kitchen are a walk-in pantry, home office and laundry area, all so spacious they still blow Tiffany away. As does the cul-de-sac out front, where the Moraes kids learned to ride their bikes this past summer. The house, the location — they’re ideal for this young family. And proof you can get it right the first time.


WHERE THEY PURCHASED The Brookside Meadows neighborhood of Novato

WHAT THEY BOUGHT A contemporary four-bedroom home

LISTING AGENT Toni Shroyer, Bradley Real Estate

SELLING AGENT Megan Pomponio, Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty

STATS Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $315

View the gallery below for more photos of the home.