Second ChanceAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Studio Montemayor transforms a traditional Mill Valley Tudor-style home into a modern dream
Regina Perez Montemayor embarked on an education in interior design after studying architecture and realizing as she notes, “It was the more micro-level human experience of space that drew me to the field.” After finishing school, she worked and gained tremendous experience at several large firms in the Bay Area which led her to open her own firm—Studio Montemayor—in 2016. “I’m captivated by the way an environment affects our state of mind, and the reverberation that scale, color, material and light can have on the senses,” she says.
She applied her astute approach to design inside this 3,860-square-foot Milly Valley home located at the base of Mt. Tamalpais that features panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding canyons. “The clients (a young, growing family) fell in love with the home’s Tudor architecture, and wanted to find a way to make the updates required—both in terms of layout and aesthetics—while staying true to the home’s character,” she recalls. “To answer their request for a contemporary but timeless design, we approached this project as a restoration instead of a simple renovation.” Working in collaboration with Richardson & Pribuss Architects and Blue Anchor Building Company, they achieved the desired direction with the introduction of classical elements such as English-style oak paneling and cabinetry in the living room, the kitchen and bathrooms, while adding modern elements throughout that shifted the conversation of each space.
Of course the layout needed an update so that main spaces and bedrooms could feel more adequate for their busy day-to-day activities. “The upstairs layout proved the most challenging, but we found a way to give the clients a primary suite worthy of the scale of the home,” Montemayor recalls. “We took one of the bedrooms upstairs and converted it to a large primary bathroom, and in the process created a connecting hallway which could also double as their closet and added light and volume by raising the ceiling as much as possible to incorporate wood beams.”
The original galley-style kitchen was also too tight for a modern-day family and not functional for active cooking and entertaining. “By shifting the back wall towards the living room, we were able to rearrange most of the appliances along that wall and add an 18ft marble-clad island,” she says. “This adjustment also allowed us to incorporate three large steel windows salvaged from other parts of the house along the exterior-facing wall, doubling the amount of natural light the kitchen now receives.”
The new home now feels like an idyllic California retreat with unmatched sophistication and style. When asked what her clients thought when seeing he finished project she recalls, “They actually enjoyed the process as our team made decorating fun, were thrilled with the results and are excited to continue work with us for years to come.”