A few years ago, Corte Madera-based designer Julie Rootes was tasked with remodeling a house that she describes as “aesthetically discombobulated.” The previous owner left the house half-gutted and with a half-finished addition—neither of which were well considered. Nonetheless, the new owners saw the house’s potential.
“It overlooks Mount Tam and the Bay,” says the wife, who, with her husband and two children, has lived in the area for years. “We knew we had found a diamond in the rough.”
The family brought in Rootes to figure out how to salvage the renovation that had already started and maximize the sweeping views.
The homeowners asked for “a functional, beautiful and modern space maximized for indoor-outdoor living and entertaining,” Rootes recalls. With that direction, she designed a plan that unified the original structure with the new addition and fixed the house’s quirky layout to allow for better flow and sight lines.
“The home didn’t have a laundry room, powder room or mud room,” she says. “The kitchen didn’t capitalize on the views, and the outdoor space was underutilized because it was hard to access.”
The wife notes that when they bought the house they were absolute novices in renovation and construction.
“Everything seemed like a challenge to us,” she remembers. “Fortunately, Julie spoke the complicated language of home renovation and translated for us.”
The homeowners’ favorite room in the 3,500-square-foot, four-bedroom house is definitely the one they call the lounge. That’s where Rootes installed floor-to-ceiling folding glass doors that allow for easy indoor-outdoor living, plus a fun bar and a redesigned fireplace for when the entertaining moves indoors.
The wife says, “It’s the room that makes me smile every day and it’s been home to many a party.”
In the open-plan kitchen, custom cabinetry throughout and a total reorientation made the space much more appealing; standing at the sink isn’t a chore with a beautiful view. The room is also practical: Rootes added plenty of storage and island seating.
THE DINING AND LIVING ROOMS
The dining room, which is just off the kitchen, got a lighting upgrade, with a skylight and a modern chandelier by Christopher Boots.
The nearby living room is outfitted with a TV and custom built-ins, plus plenty of comfy sofas for lounging.
THE PRIMARY BEDROOM
In the primary bedroom, closet space was the main issue. “There was no proper closet,” Rootes says. “Also, we had the water heater and utilities sharing the available closet space.”
Once she solved the storage issues, she focused on the decor. A floor-to-ceiling custom headboard in a bluish gray and flowing white drapes provide softness in the otherwise modern space.
THE OUTDOOR SPACES
Near the end of the renovation, the homeowners added a pool to the lower level and a rooftop vegetable garden over the car deck to make the outdoor spaces not only relaxation areas but also havens for their favorite activities.
The two-year renovation had its stresses, but the homeowners are thrilled with the result. The wife observes, “We never could have done it without Julie’s keen eye.”
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Laura Hine is a design and style writer based in Chicago. She’s a former editor-in-chief of Better, as well as the Modern Luxury publications Interiors Chicago and NS.