Mill Valley Views & Charm

Sometimes, it takes a village to create a beautiful home. Other times, it simply takes a boathouse.

When Tim McGaw began searching for a home in 2012, he turned to the people he saw at an ungodly hour every morning, his fellow rowers at Marin Rowing. First up was realtor Barry Crotty — and McGaw knew exactly what he wanted. “The number one thing for me was to find a place for my kids,” says McGaw, a recently divorced dad of three grown children. An inveterate entertainer, he also wanted an open floor plan, outdoor living space and a view.

McGaw, who oversees the operations of a private investment office, and Crotty wasted little time. They started their search in May and found a Mill Valley home soon after. “It offered everything that Tim was looking for, bedrooms for his kids and views off the family room and kitchen,” says Crotty.

The home was a 1930 cottage that had been renovated several times in eclectic Mill Valley fashion. McGaw thought the house was great — “until my adult supervision showed up.” The “supervision” came in the form of interior designers Muriel Martens and Paula Leland Kent. McGaw knew Martens through the boathouse, of course, and had asked the duo to help make his house a home, while paying tribute to some of its colorful history. It was thought to be a speakeasy during Prohibition; in the ’70s, it was home to EST retreats.

It was also home to an eyesore of a brick fireplace, which dominated the main room — and which Martens and Kent quickly removed, putting a caramel and gray marble one in its stead. With the help of rower/contractor Mike Stralka, they renovated two bathrooms, creating a contemporary look with porcelain and glass tiles from Ann Sacks. And they hired yet another rower to build bookcases and turn a funky spare room into a library. The room retains much of the old Mill Valley charm, including a stained-glass window featuring all 12 signs of the Zodiac.

What made McGaw happiest, though, was the outdoor kitchen Martens and Kent built, with granite countertops, a Turbo Elite gas grill, wine cellar and sink. “We made sure the grill was facing outward,” says Martens, “so Tim could see the view and talk to guests while he cooked.”

McGaw regularly fills the home with people: fellow rowers, baseball-watching buddies and, whenever possible, his daughter and two sons. “I was talking to my daughter recently and she said, ‘This is our house now too,’ ” says McGaw. He smiles happily when he says this, like a man who knows which crew matters most.

The Details

WHERE HE PURCHASED The Tam Valley neighborhood of Mill Valley

WHAT HE BOUGHT A 1930 brown-shingled home

LISTING AGENT Myriam Noel McCarthy and Cathy Youngling, Alain Pinel Realtors

SELLING AGENT Barry Crotty, Coldwell Banker

STATS Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $451–$803