Mill Valley Family Dives into Major Remodel as their Family Expands

Living room remodel
Improved sight lines: knocking down the wall between the family room and kitchen dramatically changed this home’s flow.

IN 2009, NEWLY single Marc Ialeggio purchased a home in Mill Valley’s Sycamore Park neighborhood and moved in with his then five-year-old daughter, Lauryn. But father and daughter weren’t alone long. His realtor, an old high school friend, sold Marc on another plan: ask out a mutual high school friend. Marc did. He and future-wife Chelsea quickly fell in love.

In their early years together in the house, Chelsea and Marc took on a few straightforward remodeling projects, including turning a walk-in closet into a powder room and completing the addition of a fourth room. “The previous owners had already poured the foundation but never completed the project,” Chelsea says.

After that, they agreed to put the brakes on additional remodeling while they got a better grip on how to utilize the space. Then, in 2013, daughter Francesca was born. With a new little-person in the home (and all the baby gear that entails) the need to optimize the floor plan and add storage became more pressing. So they pushed ahead on a comprehensive remodel.

Kitchen remodel, Mill Valley
Barstools around an island and a banquette dining table maximize seating in a small space.

The family packed up their belongings and moved into a tiny condo while a construction crew helped them reimagine the entire home. During that time, “there were four of us plus a dog living in a 700-square-foot space,” Chelsea recalls. “It was tight, but it was more important to put our money into a new home kitchen than into a temporary rental.”

While the entire home got a face-lift, the common areas saw the biggest changes. The couple gutted the kitchen and knocked down the wall between it and the living room, transforming a compartmentalized cottage into an open-concept home. Two bathrooms were redesigned. Furnishings included some splurges: a custom-built entertainment center, a sofa from Restoration Hardware, a West Elm coffee table and a Serena & Lily area rug. New master bedroom furniture is still on the to-do list.

Back Porch, Mill Valley Remodel
Added curb appeal.

The outdoor area also got a refresh. A well-worn patio was removed and fresh concrete poured in its place. Chelsea created an alfresco gathering spot by placing a contemporary Restoration Hardware sofa and chairs around a fire pit.

Marc and Chelsea have zero regrets about taking on a gut remodel. But they’re quick to admit it can be a challenge. “It’s a labor of love,” says Chelsea. And they’re planning to give the home more love in the months ahead: “We’ve got approved plans to re-side the house and add a one-car garage.”

The Details

WHERE THEY LIVE The Sycamore Park neighborhood in Mill Valley
WHAT THEY OWN A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath ranch
ARCHITECTS Adam Bittle and Anne Ravizza of Architecture Allure in San Francisco
FAVORITE DETAIL Wide plank oak floors by First, Last & Always in San Francisco

Kids' play room, Mill Valley
A custom-built entertainment center offers plenty of storage.


This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition under the headline: “Make Room for Baby.” 

Dawn Denberg

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.