A Home With Soothing Hues and a Refined Aesthetic Creates a Warm Welcome in Mill Valley

A sense of warmth and calm tends to wash over guests when they enter the Mill Valley home of The Buck Institute President and CEO Eric Verdin, MD, and his wife, Melanie Ott, Director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology. Tucked into a tree-studded hillside with sweeping views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, the contemporary home’s setting is undeniably relaxing. Amplifying the effect, however, is the comfortable yet refined aesthetic of the interior spaces designed by Maria Haidamus, founder of the eponymous interior design firm based in San Francisco.

Mill Valley home
The wavelike pattern of the washable Paola Lenti rug attracts the eye in the dining area.

When the couple came to Haidamus, they told her they wanted to update the design of their home to better suit their taste and family’s lifestyle. With two children, one in high school and one in college, and a dog, as well as active social lives, the busy family frequently has guests over. “They’re very active in the community, so the design had to be homey and practical for a family but also sophisticated enough for entertaining,” Haidamus says.

To start, Haidamus installed white oak flooring and painted throughout the three-story, 3,100 square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath home. Then, she set to work on updating the decor.

“The architecture dictated a lot of the furniture choices — contemporary with simple lines — and the husband and wife are both European, so we brought in some Italian and French brands, since the design resonates with them,” Haidamus says. “They also wanted to keep the color palette neutral so as not to distract from the spectacular view.”

A purposeful use of accent colors, accessories and artwork creates interest in the spaces. Setting the tone for the home, the entryway features a collage of the couples’ artwork (they’re avid collectors). Moving into the dining area, the eye shifts to the Paola Lenti rug, with its subtle wavelike pattern and curved edges — a theme that’s echoed in other spaces. “It fits with the neutral palette but adds texture in the dining area,” Haidamus says. “At the same time, because they have two kids and a dog, this rug is washable so you can take it outside and hose it down.”

Mill Valley home
In the primary bedroom, Flos pendants are set against the soothing backdrop of patterned Jill Malek wallpaper.

Curved lines again make an appearance in the adjacent living room, where a B&B Italia sectional with rounded edges and contrasting seams is complemented by an elegant Italian leather Poltrona Frau pouf, hanging Ruth Asawa pendant and arc-based floor lamp.

In the primary bedroom, the greenish-gray patterned wallpaper by Jill Malek behind the bed evokes the organic flow of water currents. “I used it as an accent color,” Haidamus says. “It’s a serene space and everything else in the room is very understated in keeping with the theme.” To improve lighting in the space, Haidamus removed a large, unattractive chandelier and replaced it with two round Flos pendants hanging above the nightstands. The primary bathroom also got an upgrade with the addition of a freestanding tub and marble floors and shower walls.

Mill Valley home
An elegant Italian leather Poltrona Frau pouf provides extra seating in the living room.

While all of the spaces in the family’s house now feel warm and inviting, the heart of the home might just be the family room, Haidamus says. To accommodate frequent visits from the kids’ friends and family hangout time with the dog, the family room needed plenty of seating, so Haidamus wrapped three walls with large sectional seating. “Now they’re able to accommodate 16 people on this incredibly deep and wide sofa,” she says. “The family hangs out there all the time.”

The transformation complete, Verdin and Ott’s home now feels just as welcoming to their family as their guests. “The neutral soothing palette and simplicity of our choices ties it all together, yet there’s always something unique in every room — a little detail that brings more refinement to our choices,” Haidamus says.


Mill Valley


3 bedroom, 3 bath contemporary remodel

Interior designer

Maria Haidamus Interiors

Lotus Abrams

Lotus Abrams has covered everything from beauty to business to tech in her editorial career, but it might be writing about her native Bay Area that inspires her most. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the San Francisco Peninsula, where they enjoy spending time outdoors at the area’s many open spaces protected and preserved by her favorite local nonprofit, the Peninsula Open Space Trust.