A Ranch House Remodel in Marin

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A Ranch House Remodel in Marin


by Michelle Laurie

“We were looking for a family home that we could grow into… a home that would take our two kids effortlessly from toddler to teenager. We also wanted functionality combined with a feeling of openness . Colleen helped us figure out how we would use the space and she thought of things we wouldn’t have considered. ”

When Rick and Ellie Wells first saw the 1979 ranch house on a quiet cul de sac, they knew they’d found a home they could grow into. Despite four bedrooms, two baths and 2200 square feet, the house felt closed with pokey cut up spaces and lots of walls. The large outdoor gardens surrounding the house made them realize that this was a house with much room for growth. This would be the first major building project they’d ever attempted, and with two small children, three year old Cadence and six month old Lewis, the project was daunting. Rick and Ellie engaged Mahoney Architects for design guidance to help them create a home with an open plan approach.  Colleen set out to help the Wells’ family transform the house into a home that feels bigger than it is, allowing space for children to grow and to meet future needs.

Rick’s team of contractors set out taking the main living areas and kitchen back to the studs. Skylights opened up the pitched ceilings. As interior walls were removed, Rick and Ellie could visualize the wonderful great room.

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Ellie, a VP of Finance and Marketing, chose a calm, fluid look – pale gray walls, green glass tiles, dark grey Caeserstone counters, white cabinets warmed up with hardwood floors. The clean look of the kitchen is deceivingly functional. The couple made a conscious decision not to have visible cords and outlets – they’ve succeeded in keeping the look streamlined, with one discreet plug in the corner, and a whole row of power outlets hidden under the upper cabinets. Colleen’s suggestion of a ‘tower of power’ that extends up from the kitchen island has become the lifeblood of family gatherings and meals prepared together around the island.

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The rest of the house was spruced up. The master bath and bedroom are transformed into a clean and simple refuge yet understatedly stylish. Reconfiguring a hall closet opened up enough space for a laundry room with extra sink – essential for the family that lived in the house during the entire renovation project.

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The couple agreed with Colleen that now was the time to make sure the house was energy efficient. They installed a new boiler with 96% efficiency, Nest heating system, new windows and an attic fan. A moisture monitor was installed in a crawl space under the house, to regulate the air temperature. Installing energy efficient lighting was a steep learning curve. With careful planning before the sheetrock was added, they chose energy efficient LEDs. Rick says the initial outlay was costly but much cheaper to run than the light fixtures in place before the renovation.

The Wells’ now have a home that is one of functionality and calm, with enough space for different groups and ages to gather, converse, play and cook – a space that comes alive as the family grows with it.