Hot Property: Hillsborough country home

Interior-design entrepreneur Elaine Murray worked for more than three years to design and build a dream home for herself and her family, working with an elegant, yet informal vision that mixed the colors of the local Hillsborough rock and a love of French country houses. But it has served its use as the family home, and now the owner of Brisbane design firm BMI and her husband are ready to retire to The City.

That puts 171 New Place Road on the market. Unusual among luxury homes, the house does not have different rooms for formal and informal living, featuring rather one living room, one dining room, a library, a laundry room and a wine cellar/tasting room as the only additions to the main kitchen, bedrooms and baths, though it does have a second kitchen in the basement for catering.

“My family’s the most important thing to me, so why wouldn’t you use the best for them?” Murray said. “I never understood why people wouldn’t live in the living room.”

She did the architectural design herself after purchasing the property approximately 20 years ago; it had previously been a ranch house belonging to a notable Hong Kong family, according to Alain Pinel Realtor Anne Riley.

“Every room opens onto these fabulous terraces,” Riley said. “Even the master bedroom … has it’s own terrace. You can have a party of 10 on that terrace.”

The house uses a great deal of stone and wood, and has a lot of shelving to display art and artifacts.

The dining room, for example, has what look like built-in wood china displays, but they actually hang on hinges and open, revealing the home’s dishes and other table service.

“That looks wonderful and inviting, but actually it’s masking the general storage,” Riley said.

The kitchen, which Murray considers the “heart of the home,” features a six-burner La Cornue range imported from France with a backsplash saved from an old Italian hotel, a rotisserie, special cheese drawers and an in-counter steamer, according to Kitchens/Baths magazine. Murray is a National Kitchen and Bath Association-certified kitchen designer.


Where: Hillsborough

Asking price: $11.5 million

Property tax: $149,500*

What: 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, approximately 7,200 square feet per realty firm.

Amenities: Pool and spa with cabana building with additional bath and recreation room, wine cellar, views east from San Francisco to the Dunbarton Bridge, glass-walled library, coffered ceilings, slate floors, wood-paneled passageways, fireplaces, fruit orchard, rose gardens, native oak trees, stone terraces.

Contact: Anne Riley, Alain Pinel Realtors, 650-931-2020,

*Estimated based on 1.3 percent of asking price


Where: San Francisco

Asking price: $1.8 million

Property tax: $23,400*

The property: 2 units – 6 total bedrooms, 2.5 total baths, 3,600 total square feet

Description: 1909 Edwardian two-unit building with redwood siding exterior, central heating, and a wood deck with a hot tub, a brick patio, and a south-facing garden.

Notable: Coved ceilings, hardwood inlay floors, box beam ceilings, built-in cabinetry, plaster molding, carved wood mantles, chandelier medallions and French doors.

Contact: John DiDomenico, Pacific Union GMAC Real Estate, 415-681-7570, 

Where: San Mateo

Asking price: $1.35 million

Property tax: $17,550*

The property: 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2,285 square feet

Description: Contemporary wood-frame house with a breakfast room, fireplace, one-car garage, forced-air heating and hardwood floors near Beresford Park.

Notable: The kitchen has been tastefully updated with granite counter tops and a Wolfe Range. Updated kitchen with granite counter tops and a Wolfe Range, family room, breakfast room, landscaped yard with a hot tub, lawn and a bonus room.

Contact: Bruno Baldini, Century 21 Baldini Realty, 415-587-4212

Where: Big Sur

Asking price: $3.35 million

Property tax: $43,550*

The property: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2,200 square feet

Description: Partington Ridge property that hosted Henry Miller and other artists and writers, with a main house, guest house and separate office, with ocean views.

Notable: Landscaping with quartzite patios and paths, water features, fire pits, arbors, sculptures, custom gates and spa, with mature plantings.

Contact: John Saar, John Saar Properties, 831-622-7227,

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