Our charming circa 1903 cottage in Mill Valley is just 9 miles north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge in scenic Marin County. This special home has been featured in American Express’s 'Departures' magazine, Better Homes & Garden’s 'Creative Home', the internationally acclaimed design book, 'California Interiors' & the San Francisco Chronicle’s Home Section. Filled with antiques, books, artwork & a 5 ft. grand piano, this is an elegant, comfortable home away from home close to the culture of San Francisco & the natural beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area & Napa-Sonoma wine country. We’re at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais, with many miles of gorgeous hiking & mountain biking trails. Level, scenic bike trails link Mill Valley to the picturesque bayfront towns of Tiburon & Sausalito. Golf, tennis, swimming are all nearby. Muir Woods, sailing & kayaking on San Francisco Bay & Pacific Ocean beaches are 15-30 minutes. Our home has been a favorite of local families hosting out-of-town relatives, artists seeking a quiet retreat, friends & couples enjoying a Northern California getaway.
COTTAGE DETAILS: The cottage is built with rough old growth redwood plank walls & beamed ceilings enameled a luminous white. Douglas fir floors have been whitewashed to a soft pink glow. Generous windows, French doors & the dining room’s glass solarium ceiling flood the interior with warm light filtered through the verdure of a mature garden with climbing roses & wisteria clambering over rooftops & arbors. The rooms are filled with original works of art, antique furnishings & chandeliers, & hundreds of books.
LIVING ROOM: In the living room, a banquette with down pillows, English antique reading chairs & a French Louis XV style love seat circle a wood-burning fireplace. Built-in bookshelves house a collection of art & design books; a drop-leaf desk holds trail maps & guidebooks.
MUSIC ROOM: A wide archway opens on the music room, with a 5 ft. grand piano, velvet chaise, English-style overstuffed sofa & wall-size mirror.
DINING ROOM: A step down from the music room is the dining room, with an antique farm table & vintage Chinese Chippendale garden chairs. Two walls of multi-pane steel casement windows, softened with sheer linen curtains, wrap around the music & dining rooms.
DECK & GARDEN: French doors open on an ipe-wood deck with teak furniture, and a courtyard garden with a fountain. Dining room & deck share a glass solarium roof covered in roses & wisteria each spring.
MEDIA ROOM: A half-wall of shelves with a collection of garden books opens the dining room to a small media room/twin bedroom with a twin daybed sofa & a 42” HDTV with home theater sound system, CD & DVD players, & a stereo jack for your personal music device. There is premium cable (HBO and Showtime) WiFi internet service, a selection of music & videos, Scrabble, puzzles & card games.
Additionally, the full bedroom has a small LCD HDTV with DVD player.
GOURMET KITCHEN: The kitchen has custom mahogany cabinets, pink marble counters, a butler sink, and stainless steel appliances. Small appliances include a microwave, toaster, Francis-Francis espresso machine with pods, Mr. Coffee-type drip coffee maker, coffee grinder, electric kettle, Cuisinart food processor, blender, rice cooker, waffle iron, ice cream maker & immersion blender. There’s a full complement of cookware & bakeware, sharp knives & handy gadgets. Tableware includes an extensive collection of vintage English china circa 1840-1940. Spices, paper products, & non-toxic cleaning supplies provided.
The kitchen’s breakfast nook is wrapped in bookcases filled with more of our extensive book collection; here fiction, poetry, cookbooks & reference volumes predominate. An antique pine table is drawn up to a cushioned banquette. Residing over all is a marble Buddha in the window.
Three small bedrooms - king, full & twin - have comfortable beds dressed with memory foam mattress toppers, luxury linens, cotton quilts, down pillows & duvets. Robes are provided, as well as slippers for this “No Shoes” Policy house.
KING BEDROOM: Upstairs, the master bedroom has an Edwardian-era English mahogany king bed with a hand-made mattress from McRoskey, a venerable San Francisco institution. A wedding cake confection Murano chandelier hangs from the peaked ceiling. Antique Asian cabinets act as nightstands. A shelved closet & a dresser store clothes.
A Dutch door opens onto a private sun deck & wisteria arbor. Chaise lounges & a built-in seat make this a perfect spot for morning coffee or afternoon sunbathing, overlooking the rose-covered rooftops & the garden below.
FULL BEDROOM:The second upstairs bedroom is furnished with an antique white iron full (double) bed & an Italian marble-topped dressing table. A wall of casement windows looks out on a rooftop covered with climbing roses, a bower of pink blossom in late April & May. A maple-framed wall-size mirror at the foot of the bed enhances the sense of space in this small bedroom.
A large built-in armoire has ample drawers & closet rods, as well as a gas fireplace & flat screen TV. The yellow & white rose wallpaper is a vintage pattern that appeared in the grander setting of Scarlett O’Hara’s home, Tara, in Gone With the Wind.
TWIN BED IN MEDIA ROOM: The small first floor media room has a daybed with a foam/memory foam mattress that can be made up as a twin bed. A half-wall behind the daybed opens onto the dining room: a drape can be drawn across the opening for privacy.
GARDEN KING BEDROOM
In addition to the 3 bedrooms in the main part of the cottage - the upstairs king and full bedrooms and the downstairs media room/twin, which are included in the standard rate, there is an optional king bedroom available with French doors overlooking the garden, that is available for an extra nightly fee of $75 plus $40 cleaning fee.
If you would like to include this bedroom in the rental, please let us know and we'll send you a special offer that includes it. Groups of 6 or 7 can only be accommodated with the use of this bedroom, but it is also a wonderful addition if you prefer to have 2 king bedrooms, more distance/privacy between bedrooms, or a bedroom on the first floor that can accommodate two guests. Access to the bedroom is through French doors on the garden. It also connects to the front cottage through the laundry room and media room. If you don't plan to use the media room as a twin bedroom, the garden king could function as a suite that included the media room, laundry, and the first floor bathroom with shower.
The garden bedroom's king bed has an organic latex mattress. Two sets of French doors with wood venetian blinds look out on the garden and its fountain. The walls are a gallery of original art. A reading chair with foot stool sits in one corner, an antique Indian dresser with bone inlay in another. Bedside tables with alabaster lamps, sisal carpet layered with soft throw rugs, and a mirrored closet complete the furnishings.
DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM: The first floor bathroom with shower is en suite with the twin bed media room. It has a shower tiled in sea-green glass mosaic, with a steel casement window whose panes of vintage Chicago art glass are patterned in watery tones.
The layout of the first floor bathroom is one of the more unusual design solutions in this cottage with its yacht-worthy use of space. With the doors closed in one configuration, it’s a full-sized bathroom with a generous shower & a red crystal chandelier. Closed a different way, the bathroom disappears & it’s a hallway connecting the kitchen to the media/twin bedroom & the laundry room beyond. This is difficult to describe. But when you see it, you’ll say, “Ah!” It is many people’s favorite clever detail (along with the stair-steps Philip hinged for storage).
UPSTAIRS BATHROOM: The shell-pink upstairs bathroom displays an extensive collection of shells, shell-craft & a delicate brass chandelier found on a beach vacation in Key West. It features a wonderful vintage clawfoot tub with hand-held shower spay. (Shower lovers, please note that the cottage’s only shower is in the first floor bathroom.)
Bath amenities include hair dryers, first aid kit, soaps, shampoo, cream rinse & other toiletries.
LAUNDRY ROOM: Beyond the media room is a laundry room with full-size Bosch washer/dryer, folding counter, iron, & room to store your luggage.
GARDEN & GROUNDS: Mill Valley Cottage is surrounded by Philip’s long-evolving garden of roses, wisteria, hydrangea, herbs, Mediterranean perennials &California natives.
Along with the brick terrace in the small front garden & the deck off the master bedroom, the cottage’s exterior space includes the furnished back porch & the rear garden with its graveled courtyard &fountain.
To the left of the courtyard is a narrow building with French doors, its rooftop covered with roses & autumn clematis, which houses the cottage’s laundry room as well as the optional Garden King bedroom and our storage room.
A sidewalk to the right of the cottage leads to the rear garden courtyard & beyond that to another small cottage & private garden that is the on-site residence of our granddaughter and Mill Valley Cottage manager, Tess Holtry, who lives there with her husband Will and their cat. There is occasional foot traffic past Mill Valley cottage as they use the side walk to the right of the cottage to reach their home.
Tess and Will are very respectful of the privacy of visiting guests. We expect you to regard the cottage & its gardens as your home. Tess and Will keep their comings & goings as unobtrusive as possible.
That said, Tess is a delightful and knowledgeable host who would be happy to chat with you about recommendations for making the most of your stay in the Bay Area. Feel free to call her on her cell, or give a shout if you see her walk by.