Wednesday, January 7

Unexpected Guests: Kristin and Nico van Praag.

Today we're taking a visit just across the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge to the beautiful wooded town of Mill Valley, where we're dropping in on the eclectic and stylish home of Kristin and Nico van Praag, whom I met and became fast friends with through the advertising world. Kristin and her husband Nico, an amazing craftsman who did much of the renovations on their home himself, recently had a beautiful baby boy, Valentino (named after the famed Italian motorcycle racer, as Nico is big into racing as well), so Kristin's been taking some time off from the ad industry, enjoying being a new mom, and doing a gorgeous job of decorating their lovely Mill Valley home. Let's take a look around the house...and, oh yeah, try not to swoon too much over their luscious landscaped outdoor garden and patio'll turn you green with envy.

What is your idea of a perfect day in Mill Valley?
A run or a bike ride on Mt. Tamalpais on a clear day. Taking a drive to the beach.

What don't you leave home without?
Last year would have been a very different answer. This year it's a baby bag with Cheerios, diapers, toys, extra clothes... it goes on and on. I find myself with everything he needs, and forget to bring anything essential for myself - like water.

What are some of your favorite local shops?
Summer House in Mill Valley is my favorite. I go there a few times a week. It calms me. Design Within Reach.

What's on your wish list?
Someday a white Barcelona Chair in our bedroom. How indulgent is that? Our wish list is never ending. Glass tiles on the kitchen sink back splash, a divider in the entryway, skylights... Our biggest wish for the house is gray shingles on the outside of our home.

What's your favorite bargain find or product?
For the love of old, I love flea markets. For new - Ikea still tends to thrill me from time to time. Not always... but sometimes, it's like they have exactly what you need for a small price.

What is your biggest interior design nightmare?
Moving into our house and realizing NOTHING we had worked in our new house. Starting from scratch is scary.

Where do you find inspiration?
In our home. In our day to day. Mostly though, I think we both find it in nature. Getting outside on the mountain or the beach and being able to be breathe and see the beauty of this area. Connecting back to nature helps us both creatively, and just day to day.

Who do you admire and why?
Nico will answer this one.. anyone who creates a product and starts a successful company.

Do you collect anything?
Old photographs of our families. Nico would collect cars and motorcycles if we had more space. Given the reality of our two car garage he only has room for one motorcycle and one old Porsche. Poor guy.

What's your favorite feature in your home?
The lamp above our kitchen table. It used to live in Nico's mom's house and was an oil lamp. Nico wired it for electricity and it made our house feel like a home.

Who would you like to sit down to drinks with?
Nico and Valentino Rossi.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Judge Judy.

What is your most treasured belonging?
The lamp. The necklace I received to celebrate the birth of my son.

If you could be any other nationality, which would it be?
Nico - Italian. Kristin - whatever Salma Hayek is - Mexican and Lebanese? She can make the word Pampers sound good.

What's your greatest indulgence?
Joe's Taco Lounge three times a week.

What is your idea of living hell?
Traffic. And wall to wall carpeting.