How 3 Local Designers Breathed New Life into These Marin Homes

Cindy Bayon’s client’s home (Photo by Scott Hargis)

Party in the Basement

An unused lower level becomes the ultimate entertainment space

In the summer of 2020, designer Cindy Bayon’s client bought his first house. A move-in-ready three-bedroom in Sausalito with sweeping views of Alcatraz and the bay, it also had an unfinished basement. “That was the reason he bought it,” Bayon says. “He wanted a space to entertain.”

Over the next two years Bayon and her team, a specialized crew of an interior designer, house designer, landscape design and construction manager, restored the space, adding windows and doors and transforming it into a sophisticated and inviting multipurpose entertainment suite. “It feels like a residential version of the Battery,” Bayon says, referring to San Francisco’s elite and luxuriously appointed social club.

On one side of the open space the team carved out an intimate “media room,” with plush Italian lounge seating, an 85-inch screen and a premium surround-sound speaker system. A 10-foot marble bar spans the middle of the room. “He’s in his 30s, no kids, and he throws a lot of parties,” Bayon says. “He wanted a swanky bar.” The bar was custom-designed to showcase the homeowner’s extensive wine collection, which includes his own label; his family owns the Stone Edge Farm Winery in Sonoma County.

On the other side of the room, the team created a gym with sliding windows that look out over a lap pool and the mountains beyond. In the adjacent spa bathroom, the walls are treated with a calming smooth plaster and the showerhead offers rain and waterfall features. “It’s a whole water experience in there,” Bayon says. “Very ‘Zen.’ ” The area can be closed off from the rest of the space with a custom-designed curved glass wall.

There was no internal access to the ground level, so Bayon partnered with San Rafael–based contractor Plath & Company to engineer and build a staircase. The extraordinary spiral staircase was built off-site and fully assembled on-site, with an oak structure and steel supports. The curved glass was set into a channel. “It was a lot of coordination,” Bayon says. “That staircase is a work of art.”

Bayon says that her client and his fiancée use the space all day long. One flight away from the rest of the house and it feels like a different world. “It’s such a bonus space for living,” Bayon says. “It takes you away.”


redesigned dining and kitchen space with open floor plan
Paulina Perrault’s client’s house (Photo by Laura Reoch)

Life-Changing Design

A San Rafael home gets a new lease

Paulina Perrault knew exactly how to help her client Heather Ollison redesign her house. Raised by DIY house flippers in rural Minnesota, the Corte Madera–based designer has brought a lifetime of experience to her Sausalito firm. “My first project was my Barbie condo,” she says. “I’ve been space planning since I was five.”

Ollison was in the middle of a life transition and wanted her house to reflect more of her personal style. This made sense to Perrault, who had recently gone through a similar situation.

“I was a couple years ahead of her in this life journey,” she says, adding that the two became friends during the process. “The sense of place becomes this incredible impact point.”

Teaming with local architects Polsky Perlstein and Floyd Construction, Perrault spent the next year and a half transforming Ollison’s 3,000-square-foot San Rafael home. “Walls were moved, things were opened up,” she says. “We grabbed little bits of space from different places to reprogram the house.”

To take advantage of the property’s spectacular water views over the San Francisco Bay and the Richmond Bridge, they opened the back of the house and expanded the deck. The dramatic four-paneled glass entry has a direct sight line from the house. “We wanted to see the view as soon as we looked through the front door,” Perrault says. “Big sliders were an important part of the story.”

Unique and intentional interior spaces reflect Ollison’s personal aesthetic, which Perrault describes as “incredibly elegant, put together, and really clear. I never see her in anything but black and white,” she says. Dividing the living-dining area, a vertical white fireplace appears to float like a sculpture, a thin glass panel revealing the interior black steel of the firebox. The exquisite floor-to-ceiling bar was fashioned out of wire-brushed white oak with an ebony stain, the same natural finish as the backlit floating shelves. “This cabinetry is life changing,” Perrault says. “I’ve never seen anything like it.

“I want our clients to feel like their home really works and serves their lives,” Perrault says. For Ollison, transformation took an unexpected turn when she decided to stay in her Sausalito rental. “In this new season of her life, she realized the house on a hill felt isolated,” Perrault says. With six months left on the project Perrault, a seasoned designer, took this adjustment in stride.

The furniture that was on its way to San Rafael was rerouted to Sausalito or put into storage, and Ollison listed her home for lease. They found a renter within three days — a neighbor who lived up the street and was recently single. “It’s perfect for him,” Perrault says. “He’s in transition, too; this was exactly what he needed.”


a waterside home in Marin
Orla Huq’s client’s home (Photo by Open Homes Photography)

Marin’s Sublime Tranquility

Bringing in the water on the Belvedere Lagoon

Sausalito-based architect Orla Huq describes her client as a “Renaissance man.” A Swedish banker turned furniture designer who emigrated to the U.S. at 20, he’s also an accomplished sailor, racing for Sweden in the European and World Championships in his late teens. “He grew up on the water,” says Huq.

Huq’s client lives on the Belvedere Lagoon, a magical-feeling waterfront community that’s considered the epicenter of Marin’s lively sailing culture. In 2022 he hired Huq to redesign his house, a midcentury gem with classic clean lines and open walls. “He wanted us to bring in the water,” Huq says. “The house is surrounded by water and he wanted to feel it from every room.”

For the next 18 months, Huq and her partners from Hayes Construction renovated the home from the foundation up. Working closely with her client, they updated and modernized the 1955 house, while painstakingly preserving its timeless charm and architectural integrity.

They began by insulating the walls and roof, adding air conditioning and upgrading the boilers for the radiant floor heating. “Houses built in the ’50s were poorly insulated,” Huq says. “Now it’s always comfortable in there.” All the internal fixtures — including cabinetry, appliances and finishes — were replaced with custom-designed, top-of-the-line upgrades.

To bring in the water views, Huq and her team strategically opened more walls and added windows and glass doors. Now you see the lagoon before even entering the house — through the wide glass front door it’s a straight shot to the water. Sliding doors along the back of the house open onto tiered gardens and expansive decks with views of Mount Tamalpais and the lush hills of Belvedere Island, with smaller boats and watercraft docked to one side.

Now the water is everywhere. It reflects on the ceilings and bounces off the white walls. From the primary bathroom, you get unobstructed water views from a Jacuzzi under an operable skylight. “You weren’t even aware of the lagoon in there before,” Huq says. “It was really tight and closed in.”