It didn’t take long for offers to flow in for a modern home in Mill Valley, CA, that melds right into the hills near Mount Tamalpais.
The 5,000-square-foot residence on Lee Street landed on the market in late October for $11.95 million. It was available for less than two weeks before attracting an offer. It’s now off market as a deal moves forward.
The airy abode offers a seamless transition between interior and exterior, taking advantage of Marin County’s temperate climate.
“All of the [sliding glass] doors either completely disappear, as pocket doors … or they’re just oversized huge sliders that open, with a huge opening,” says the listing agent, Lisa Smith.
“I don’t think I’ve ever sold a house that has this much indoor-outdoor feeling to it when you’re in the main living room space.”
The owners bought the property in 2006, but didn’t build on it right away. Working with the architecture firm Markoff/Fullerton, they began building the seven-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom home, and completed it in 2018.
“I think in total, it was about four-and-a-half years to build. Their main objective with building the property was to really embrace the natural environment,” Smith says.
The agent explained that they worked closely with the architects to choose the appropriate building materials and the ideal placement of the home on the property, to create an “integrated experience.”
What the design sought to avoid was “just putting a big old house on top of a mountain,” Smith says.
Smith told us that a trip to Bali helped the owners decide on the features they wanted for their home: namely lots of openings, high ceilings, natural wood siding, and lime plaster walls.
Thanks to the ingenious living roofs and the smart use of natural materials, the home seems almost to disappear into the land.
“When you drive up to the property itself, it doesn’t look like a big house—and it’s a 5,000-square-foot house. But the way it was tiered into the hillside and the low-lying roof lines and the siding material and all of the greenery, it’s all just this beautiful marriage of architecture in nature,” Smith says.
The living roofs aren’t just there for appearance’s sake—they also help with wildfire safety in this area, where fire danger warnings are common in the summer and fall.
The plants on the roofs are all succulents, which aren’t highly flammable, so if an ember falls on them, it’s not a catastrophe.
Rooftop irrigation keeps the plants looking beautiful.
“The living roofs are presented in a way that’s like a painting. There are lines and color that marry back to the environment the home is in, so it further helps provide that connection back to the natural surroundings,” Smith says.
The outbuilding with a living roof is a guesthouse with a studio, a full bathroom, and a small deck.
Inside, the natural elements also take center stage.
“The bar seating area in the main kitchen is a slab of bay laurel from our community. It’s a tree we have all over Marin County,” Smith explains.
A tree was harvested and planed to create the counter.
“The flooring is reclaimed teak flooring. There’s just this natural warmth that’s so simple, but feels like a hug when you walk in,” Smith says.
The kitchen has whitewashed teak cabinets and is designed for a home chef, with two dishwashers and high-end appliances, including a steam oven instead of a microwave.
The sinks and kitchen hardware are copper, since copper is said to offer health benefits. Lighting overhead is made from clay beads from South Africa.
“Every single thing is curated specifically to always take into consideration our natural environment, where the things came from, and what the experience would be at the end,” Smith says.
Outside, there’s a 50-foot lap pool surrounded by grass and stone, creating a quiet oasis.
Smith says that when she shows the property, potential buyers are amazed.
“It’s so quiet, you hear the caw of a hawk or [smell] the scent of eucalyptus trees,” she says. “You’re five minutes from downtown Mill Valley—which is crazy, because you feel like you’re way, way out there.”