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Location: San Rafael, California
Set among the rolling hills of Marin County, just north of San Francisco, this modern estate bordering an Open Space preserve and a winter creek is one lovely indoor-outdoor retreat. Constructed in 1994, the home has so far been the personal residence of its creator: James Shay, a trained architect who, in the mid-90s, decided to focus on painting. It's no surprise then that this house feels like a big and breezy hillside gallery. Defined by steel-clad barrel-vaulted roofs and soaring interior spaces, the nearly 5,000-square-foot abode is bright, airy, and rather breathtaking.
In addition to a show-stopping open breezeway turned exterior living and dining room, the four-bedroom residence also includes a red pyramidal stair to the roof (which once held a tomato garden), two-story art studio, detached round library, and swimming pool that extends under a mature oak tree (there are several other very old oaks and olive trees on the one-acre property). The home has been on and off the market in the last year, but it recently re-listed at $2.495 after a $430K pricechop.