Team Effort

FOR CAITLIN AND Bob Mitchell, buying and setting up a home in San Anselmo was a family affair.

Less than a year ago, the Mitchells were living in Manhattan Beach, enjoying beach life in SoCal. Bob worked as a benefits consultant, Caitlin as a teacher. But Caitlin, who grew up in Fairfax, longed to return to Marin and be closer to family, especially her mom, realtor Sue Pence.

The Mitchells had barely begun discussing a move when Caitlin visited Marin last Christmas and tagged along with Pence on a tour of open houses. Her reaction? “It’s so expensive, we’ll never be able to live here.”

But within days, Pence’s realtor friend Darlene Hanley mentioned a well-priced, off-market home in San Anselmo and suggested Caitlin take a look. The location was what Caitlin wanted — within walking distance of San Anselmo and Fairfax — and the place needed no work. Bob, who was initially reluctant to leave Los Angeles, got on board. And picking a real estate agent was easy: Mom.

“I always thought, ‘If something good turns up, I’ll let them know,’ ” says Pence. “But this was spur of the moment, and I feel like it was meant to be their house.”

For a young couple thinking of expanding their ranks, the house is perfect. With three bedrooms (Bob uses one as an office), it’s nestled beneath three heritage oaks, it has a deck with a view, and there’s space for both entertaining and a small family.

As for the house needing no work? Caitlin, an inveterate decorator and remodeler, added, um, a few minor touches, refinishing all the floors, repainting all the walls, reconfiguring the master bath and completely gutting the kitchen.

In order to economize, she acted as her own contractor and hired subcontractors, who included her uncle (who demo’ed the kitchen), her dad and grandfather (who painted), and the Ohio-raised Bob, who is very handy.

The kitchen, in particular, is a showstopper, with custom Shaker-style cabinets from CliqStudios, quartz countertops and Restoration Hardware filament lighting. In the middle, there’s an island from IKEA, which exemplifies the Mitchells’ approach to decorating: Caitlin, who’s a whiz at budget shopping, likes to pair high-end items with budget buys. In their living room, she accented Sunrise Home furniture with pillows and with accessories from the discount store HomeGoods. And in the master bedroom, she mixed Pottery Barn bedding with a headboard from and placed a French-style chair from a small store in Manhattan Beach alongside.

But the Mitchells’ biggest secret weapon in creating a stylish home was family. Confirming, for them, that you can go home again, and it can be awfully sweet.


WHERE THEY PURCHASED The hills near downtown San Anselmo

WHAT THEY BOUGHT An updated 1954 ranch-style home LISTING AGENT Eric Gelman, Bradley Real Estate

SELLING AGENT Sue Pence, Coldwell Banker

STATS Price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood: $650–$750

Check out the gallery below for more photos.