Step Inside a Modern Mill Valley Farmhouse

Architect Ken Linsteadt and interior designer Patrick Printy put a California spin on New England country style.When spring comes to Mill Valley, bringing a heady mix of warm sun, soft rain and ethereal fog, a classic home on a wooded hillside is a pretty perfect place to be. Case in point: A farmhouse-style residence, remodeled by architect Ken Linsteadt with interior design by Patrick Printy that celebrates its surroundings. Among many other features its big, bright new extension opens out to the garden and a second-story rooftop meadow is lush with soft greenery.  

Linsteadt’s raw material was a midcentury house with a somewhat awkward interior configuration. To optimize the layout for a young family that likes to spend lots of time outside, he shifted the bedrooms to the upper level, brought the communal spaces to the ground floor, and added a new double-height wing to house the living/dining area and kitchen. The design also gets to the heart of the clients’ goals for remodeling: Originally from the East Coast, they wanted a “Connecticut farmhouse feel.” The new living/dining wing is a modern take on New England country style, with its barn-like beamed ceiling and easy, relaxed elegance. The paneling and pilasters around the fireplace are also subtle references to Colonial interiors.

Printy points out that Linsteadt got the scale of the addition just right, creating a room that feels generous and expansive, but is actually compact enough to allow conversation to flow effortlessly between someone pouring drinks in the kitchen and others sitting by the fireplace. Because it opens directly onto the landscape, Printy deepened the connection between interior and exterior with a palette of natural, earthy colors: Shades of white play against an array of browns, from the dark, rich chocolate of the Verellen wool sofa to the warm natural wood of the reclaimed oak floor and ceiling beams. And in the little library off the entry hall, the freshness of the home’s verdant setting is echoed by the soft, gray-green hue Printy chose for the wall-to-ceiling storage units and the accents of juicy green scattered across the pillow and ottoman fabrics.

Upstairs, the master suite feels like a secluded treehouse, with multiple windows and French doors that open onto a private deck. Printy played with pops of color and pattern, from the windowpane-check ottoman—inspired by men’s suiting fabric—to the pink and orange graphics on the rug and side chair. The master bathroom picks up the barn theme, with a sliding door and a custom vanity that takes its cues from equestrian traditions: Its leather drawer hardware recalls harness straps, and the diamond motif on the side hints at the simple, geometric patterning found in East Coast stables.

Outside the master suite, there’s a charmingly whimsical touch: a little meadow of green roofing, dreamed up by Linsteadt to create separation between the master suite deck and the children’s bedroom balcony area. As he points out, that idea had the delightful effect of “wrapping the garden up onto the roof,” another graceful gesture connecting house to land. 

A version of this article appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Raising the Barn.