Art is like air for a Mill Valley single mother and budding glass artist, who has served as a docent at the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. She’s also worked in a variety of roles at Burning Man and has attended the desert festival 13 times.
“There’s really nothing like riding your bike around and looking at incredible, monumental art,” she explains. “Art nourishes my soul.”
That passion is deeply reflected in her shingle-style, four-level, Mill Valley home, which overlooks Mount Tam. It’s filled with pieces she’s collected over the years. That collection inspired interior designer Holly A. Kopman, as she worked on the space over the course of a decade.
The homeowner and the designer were acquaintances when they bumped into each other in the grocery store. That chance encounter led to a consultation about window treatments, and then, an overhaul of the entire house, room by room.
COLLABORATION AND FRIENDSHIP
“I wanted to create a beautiful space, but I needed things to evolve organically, as an expression of creativity,” the homeowner says. “I didn’t want to feel like someone was doing it for me.”
Instead, the two viewed it as a collaboration. And that led to friendship. Early on, the pair took a hiking trip to Peru, where they bought textiles that covered the pillows on the back porch. There, a hand-painted Moroccan motif transformed a once-bland concrete wall.
“This area begged for cozy seating,” Kopman says. Perforated metal globes reinforced the international ambiance.
A BOLD PALETTE
Things took a more luxurious turn inside, where the formerly reddish cherry-wood floors were stained ebony, juxtaposing white walls. The yin-and-yang palette flowed into the kitchen, where black granite counters played off refaced white cabinet doors and a marble herringbone backsplash.
In the breakfast area, a custom table made of old industrial gears, with a thick top made of recycled paper, acted as a rough foil to a sleek, contemporary banquette. Hanging above was a refined modern light fixture by David Weeks Studio.
“This house was whimsical,” Kopman says, pointing to the mix of antiques, artwork and contemporary furniture.
A sense of elegance carried through the whole house. In the master bedroom, a wall-to-wall carpet from Stark and a textural wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries created a cozy backdrop for a custom winged headboard, which was flanked by bedside tables by Scala Luxury.
When the client didn’t love the vintage Venini chandelier Kopman selected, the designer paired it with a shade to create a custom look that wowed them both.
Lighting also played an important role in the office, where teardrop-shaped pendant lights by Apparatus played off the graphic wallcovering by Lindsay Cowles on the ceiling and the hand-painted window shades by Carolyn Ray.
“The lighting had to live up to the artwork,” Kopman explains, noting there was a constant dialogue between art and decor.
The gallery-like front stairway was filled with pieces the client collected over the years. And a piece that spells out the word love in large red letters by artist Laura Kimpton made an uplifting statement near the bocci ball court.
“The client kept moving and adding to the artwork, so the house was always changing,” Kopman says.
A REJUVENATING SPACE
After many years, the project was finally completed, and the homeowner was overjoyed. Reinvigorated by her living space, she found herself spending more and more time in her garage studio, where she and her adult son made colorful, kiln-formed glass pendants, which they placed in the bark of redwood trees on a nearby hiking path.
“We loved that hikers may have felt a sense of surprise and delight upon discovering the pendants,” she explains. “Maybe we were making the enchanted forest a little more so.”
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Tate Gunnerson is a Chicago-based freelance journalist with an equal appreciation for natural beauty and good design.