Marin County House Portraits Blending with Nature

The Beginnings of Marin County Home Portrait Collection

Marin County is a magical place that reminds me of my homeland of New Zealand, especially the hillside city of Auckland, where I grew up and first became interested in historic homes and architecture.

Hillside homes in Greenbrae, Marin Country, CA

Located in the northwestern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, it sits across from the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Founded in 1850, Marin County is one of the original 27 counties of California.  Its founding followed shortly after the adoption of the California Constitution of 1849 and just months before the state was admitted to the Union.

Marin County is the smallest of the San Francisco Bay Area counties, both in size and population. It’s natural treasures include the famous  Redwood forests, windswept beaches for surfing and strolling, waterfalls and mountainous terrain.

It is also host to an abundance of well known architecture, including the San Quentin State Prison and the George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. The Marin County Civic Center was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and draws thousands of visitors a year to guided tours of its arch and atrium design.

Marin’s communities are equally interesting and varied. In the south are the historic cities of Sausalito, Tiburon and Belvedere, where hillside homes are the norm. Ferries connect residents to San Francisco. To the north are Corte Madera, Greenbrae and San Rafael and nestled against the lower slopes of Mt. Tam are the wooded communities of Mill Valley, Larkspur, Ross, Kentfield and Fairfax. The growing town of Novato can be found against the Sonoma border.

Welcoming home on Bridge Rd, Kentfield, Marin County
Classic Spanish Colonial Revival home in Novato, Marin County


Sausalito is situated near the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Prior to the bridge’s construction, Sausalito served as a terminus for rail, car and ferry traffic. A picturesque artistic enclave, it is famous for its houseboat community consisting of more than 400 houseboats in a myriad of styles and sizes.

Built in 1933, this home sits over the water in the New Town neighborhood of Sausalito
Cheerful home on Atwood Ave, Sausalito, Marin County
Historic Sausalito home with a number of architectural style influences. It was built in 1909
This Sausalito home has been in the same family for over a 100 years. The original family came to the area in the Gold Rush years.

Sausalito Beauty Saved from the Wrecking Ball

In 1896, Frank M. Koehler, commodore of the Pacific Yacht Club, had this 4,000-square-foot Italianate Victorian home (below) built on South Street in Sausalito overlooking the bay. Over a century later the house had become an eyesore (below) no longer fitting into one the world’s most fashionable towns. It had been split into three apartments years before and was derelict with rain coming through holes in the roof.  Seeing its potential, it was purchased and painstakingly restored by a local contractor, then sold in 2008. Now the home is a tourist attraction in the heart of Sausalito’s Old Town. Instead of facing the wrecking ball, it retains its place as a piece of Sausalito’s history.

Fully restored Italianate Victorian in 2008

While I am only in the beginning stages of my Marin County collection, I am sharing these stunning homes as they are each so unique and at the same time typical of this region. I am looking forward to adding more homes in the near future.

Many of these homes are included in the California section of my coffee table book, Hand Painted Homes: An Artist’s Pen and Watercolor Journey Across America.  Click here to find out more about the book and see sample pages. 

I am always adding to my city house portrait collections. If you would like a portrait of our own home don’t hesitate to  contact me at

Cheers, Leisa


Call For Inquiries

Leisa Collins Art Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for news, giveaways, sales, and events!