A Meticulously Restored Midcentury Hits the Market in Northern California

A Meticulously Restored Midcentury Hits the Market in Northern California

By Kathryn M.
In Marin County, just north of San Francisco, the Woerner House is a dynamic theater of light and views.

When design enthusiasts Mark Henderson and Mercedes McNab purchased the Woerner House in 2011, they had no doubt the 1951 home was a diamond in the rough. Designed by acclaimed architect John Funk and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, the Bay Area residence hummed with potential, which motivated the couple to treat the space to a complete restoration.

The Woerner House, built in 1951, rests on a lush lot in Kentfield, California, just north of San Francisco. The current homeowners, real estate developer Mark Henderson and actor Mercedes McNab, thoroughly researched its history before undertaking a renovation with architect David Yama.

Mark and Mercedes—who currently live in the dwelling with their children, ages five and eight—found themselves knee-deep in research. "After we bought the home, we were determined to find all of the original plans and photographs," says Mark. After countless hours, they gathered a full archive of the property. 

A bright red door extends a warm welcome to visitors. "We found out, in a very organic way, that
red looked fantastic next to the gray color of the house after a perennial flower of that color popped up one year," says Mark.

With the original plans in hand, they then tapped local architect David Yama to assist with the remodel. One of the first design decisions was to install white terrazzo tile flooring throughout the interior, which measures over 3,600 square feet. 

"We had seen terrazzo in other midcentury houses across the Bay Area and in Los Angeles, and we liked the clean, glossy look—as well as the fact that it was a floor choice often used in the post-war period," Mark says.

Measuring 3,648 square feet, the home presents spacious gathering areas arranged across an open floor plan. Original details can be found throughout, such as the broad brick fireplace in the living room.

Complementing the terrazzo floors, white concrete patio surfaces connect the interior and exterior, creating a sense of continuity and expansiveness. In addition to prioritizing indoor/outdoor living, the couple were adamant about keeping as many original details as possible.

"We tried to keep the plaster ceilings intact," says Mark. "It added a softness, as opposed to drywall. This was a challenge, as we needed to make openings and chase ways for new electrical. The easy way out would have been to scrap the plaster and just sheetrock the ceilings, but we knew with every step you take in the name of efficiency, you take one step away from the original vision. And after too many steps, you cannot find your way back." The team opted to meticulously patch the openings and blend the plaster.

Steps from the living room is a formal dining area, drenched with natural light. "The house has so many windows, allowing it to capture soaring views on all sides," says Mark.

According to Mark, the landscape was a larger project than they’d originally expected. After consulting Anna Halprin, the widow of the original landscape architect, they brought aboard his former apprentice, Gary Roth. Roth used the original plans as a guide for designing the surrounding grounds.

Another bright and airy space is the library/media room, where custom built-ins offer ample storage. An office is also included in the property.

The restoration was a multiple-year endeavor, but every step proved worthwhile. "This home provides us with an infinite theater of nature and light," says Mark, noting the incredible scenes captured by the home’s floor-to-ceiling windows. "It reminds you to slow down, take a breath, and simply be."

In total, the dwelling features four bedrooms, including a spacious principal suite. 

After several years of savoring the midcentury residence, the family is now looking to hand over the key to a new buyer who will appreciate its rich history. Scroll ahead to see inside more of the property, currently listed for $4,750,000.

As part of the renovation, the couple expanded the property with a nearly 300-square-foot primary bathroom. "We built the vanity and cabinets out of solid walnut to match the original walnut used in the main hallways and living room," says Mark.

Each of the home’s four bathrooms were remodeled, and now feature all-new fixtures.

Many of the living spaces open up to the expansive, concrete rear patio. The flat roof cantilevers over the space to create protection for al fresco dining.

In addition to the various gathering areas, the backyard also features a large kidney-shaped pool and spa. The property is fully fenced and threaded with pathways, creating a private oasis.

Throughout the landscaped grounds, the home celebrates its environs, all while presenting a direct outlook on Mount Tamalpais, the bay, and the San Francisco skyline.

Another peek at the exterior, showcasing the home’s sleek facade and luminous walls of glass.

Project Credits:

Architecture: David Yama of Yama Architecture

Landscape Design: Karla Dakin of K. Dakin Design Inc.

Construction: Mark Manning of Farallon Construction

Photography: Jacob Elliott for Sotheby's International Realty

101 Crown Road in Kentfield, California, is currently listed for $4,750,000 by Isobel Wiener and Danielle Chavanon of Sotheby's International Realty.

Know of a home for sale or rent that should be featured on Dwell.com? Find out how to submit to Dwell.  

Save

Get the Real Estate Newsletter

From midcentury classics to the best contemporary spaces for sale, see the latest listings for modern homes on the market around the world.