FOR SEVEN YEARS, Missy Zech and her husband Erik lived in a lovely home in the hills of Tiburon. And while it had many assets, including a fantastic master suite and an expansive yard, there were a few negatives. “It had all this space, but we mostly just hung out together in the family room,” Missy recalls. In addition, it was walkable to nothing. “What I really wanted was a house where we could walk to town,” she says. With two kids attending Redwood High School and a third about to enroll there the next year, the couple decided that meant relocating to Larkspur.
As a seasoned realtor, Missy knew what it would take to get their place ready for sale. First, the family moved into temporary housing so a contractor could blaze through necessary updates. Second, since she recognized the importance of a pristinely staged home, they’d need to clear out the furniture. But rather than pay to store it all, she and Erik made a radical choice. “We decided to donate everything to wildfire victims,” Missy says.
The Zechs were still prepping their home for sale when they first laid eyes on what would become their new abode. “It had been our intention to sell the old house before buying the new one, so when we saw it, I didn’t give it serious thought,” she recalls. But two weeks later the home was still on the market, and Missy got to thinking. “We were trying to be fiscally responsible about the move, but then my husband looked at me and said, ‘Look, if you really think this is the one, let’s just go for it,’ ” she says. And they did.
The house, built in 1906, was in amazingly good shape. “It had been recently renovated and freshly painted, but we still wanted to do a few things to make it our own,” Missy says. Aided by Caitlin Jones Designs, a firm based in both Seattle and San Rafael, they made cosmetic changes — most notably, a kitchen facelift that included repainting the cabinets, adding a backsplash and replacing the countertops. They also swapped in a new sink, faucet, air gap and brass cabinet pulls.
With no furniture, there was less packing to do before moving day. “The first few weeks [after move-in] we had nothing but mattresses and we all camped out together in the living room,” Missy recalls. Meanwhile, their designer rushed to stock the new place. Bedroom sets arrived first, followed by a sofa for the family room, a U-shaped sectional for the living room, and the many other furnishings and touches that make a house a home.
The Zech family wasted no time settling into Larkspur living. “I think being walkable to everything makes it easier to build community,” Missy says. She’s also thrilled to be ensconced in a more intimate space. “Getting rid of all that excess was liberating,” she notes.
WHERE THEY PURCHASED
The Baltimore Park neighborhood of Larkspur
WHAT THEY BOUGHT
A 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath Craftsman
Stacy Achuck and Missy Zech of Compass
Victoria Love and Tina McArthur of Compass
Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $1,090
Opener: The Zechs hope to fill their new home with happy memories much like the VW parked in the driveway. It’s a cherished relic of Missy’s own childhood. Opposite: The U-shaped sectional is a favorite hangout spot for Zech family gatherings. This page, clockwise from top: Freshly painted cabinets and a new backsplash transformed this kitchen; a cozy, clutterfree master bedroom; interior details; the entire Zech brood; lower level bathroom.
For column consideration, please send photos and a description to firstname.lastname@example.org.