IT SAYS SOMETHING about how much time Melissa Cohen was spending with realtor Jim Fraser that he was the first person to know she was in labor. “I was on the phone with him, talking about putting a bid in for this house,” says Melissa, “and I said, ‘Jim, I think I’m having contractions.’"
It was April 20, 2013. Melissa hung up, called her husband, Andy, and rushed to the hospital, where two things happened in rapid order overnight: 1. Their second daughter, Alexa, was born, and 2. They learned their bid was successful.
If it seems like everything unfolded at breakneck pace, think again. The Cohens, who had outgrown their San Francisco apartment, looked at more than 50 houses over a twoyear period. Jim Fraser drove Melissa — and usually her older daughter, Taylor — all over Marin, as Melissa’s belly grew.
Just before her due date, they found their dream house: a newly built Mill Valley Craftsman with a big, open kitchen; good indoor-outdoor flow for children and entertaining; and easy freeway access for Andy’s hedge fund job in the city. There wasn’t much of a yard, but as owners they remedied that quickly, turning a hillside into a lush lawn and play area, with the help of contractor Rob Rainsford. “In the end, when they saw what they wanted,” says Fraser, “they just put the pedal to the metal.”
The house, with its open, airy great room that spills out onto a view of Richardson Bay, was worth the wait. The room includes a crisp white kitchen, dominated by a square, flamed granite island, which is the focal point for the young family. And at the far end of the kitchen, Melissa and Andy have added a playful touch: a wall covered in gray-blue chalkboard paint, which is echoed by a dining room wall in the same color.
The dining room holds one of the only pieces to have survived from their apartment days, a long mahogany wood table. To fill the rest of the house, they enlisted interior designer Jolene Lindner, who helped create a stylish and kid-friendly living room, with an Oly “Hannah” chair, Moroccan white leather pouf, cowhide bench and Restoration Hardware couch, upholstered in outdoor fabric to handle sippy cup spills.
Melissa took her time making decorating decisions, sending back four dining room rugs, for example, before settling on a cowhide one from One Kings Lane. “I go over and over decisions,” says Melissa, “so that at the end of the day, I’m happy with the one I’ve made.” Which pretty much sums up how the Cohens feel about their house.
WHERE THEY PURCHASED The Homestead Valley neighborhood of Mill Valley
WHAT THEY BOUGHT A contemporary Craftsman, built in 2011
LISTING AGENT Jeanette Cling, Coldwell Banker
SELLING AGENT Jim Fraser, Pacific Union
STATS Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $750–$900
View the gallery below for more photos of this newly built Mill Valley Craftsman home.