LOOKING FOR THE perfect house is like looking for true love: when you see it, you just know. Some lucky people, like Beth and Doug Carlson, find both at once.
Beth and Doug are like a poster couple for second-time-around. They knew each other for years, starting when she was married and he was seeing someone. After her divorce a few years back, they reconnected and started dating, sensing this was more than a fling. The only problem? He lived in San Diego and she lived in Mill Valley with two teenage daughters.
As Doug shuttled back and forth, he fell in love with Beth — and Mill Valley. When a Bay Area job opportunity arose, he jumped and started house-hunting, always bringing Beth along. “She kind of knew that I was buying the house where we’d all live,” says Doug. “But we weren’t even engaged yet.”
They stumbled upon this home for sale while out on a walk one day. Intrigued, they snuck into the backyard, where they were wowed by Mount Tamalpais views. They peered through the home’s glass NanaWalls and admired its contemporary interior, which would make a perfect backdrop for Doug’s modern art collection. The house had ample room for Beth’s two girls and an au pair suite house where Doug’s grown daughters could stay.
So Doug bought it. For himself. But, says realtor Kathleen Clifford, “it really showed a commitment to Beth. It said, ‘I’m here to stay.’ ”
If it was easy to fall for each other, it was just as easy to fall for the house. Two sleek and sunken rooms bookend the home, designed by architect Michael Murray. At one end, there’s the serene living room, with an inset black fireplace and metallic silver painted walls. At the other, there’s a family room dominated by a cushy Solange sectional couch and a mounted television hidden behind one of Doug’s paintings.
In between these two rooms, a staircase made of 800-year-old reclaimed oak, glass and steel leads upstairs, where the youngest daughter’s bedroom, best described as French shabby chic, is the highlight. It’s playful, with a fireplace, medallion-print green-and-white wallpaper, and a scrunched fabric chandelier.
The home’s showstopper is the backyard, with its stylish bluestone-and-turf checkerboard patios, a drought-tolerant garden and head-on views of the Mountain Home Inn. It’s Doug and Beth’s favorite place to cozy up with a glass of wine, watch the sunset and marvel at the serendipity that landed them here. “We just knew about each other, and we knew about the house,” says Doug. “It was just bizarre — but wonderful.”
WHERE THEY PURCHASED The hills of Mill Valley
WHAT THEY BOUGHT A newly built four-bedroom home with guesthouse
LISTING AGENT Kathee Shatter, Pacific Union
SELLING AGENT Kathleen Clifford, Pacific Union
STATS Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $1,000
Here is a gallery of great photos of the Carlson home.