Napa Valley Residence

NAPA VALLEY RESIDENCE  /  St. Helena, California

This structure was built in the 1880s as a winery, abandoned for decades, and then renovated as a residence in the 1980s. The setting, the gardens, and the charm of the stone building were clearly positives—but nothing inside was salvageable.

We designed and oversaw a complete renovation, in which we rethought every detail inside the original structure’s walls. The basic layout of the ground floor remained intact except for the kitchen—expanded by opening up several smaller rooms. Limed walnut millwork as well as deeply coffered ceilings add tactility and a sense of age. The coffers also serve the functional purpose of accommodating plumbing from upstairs without a need to lower the ceilings or to penetrate the stone structure. We designed massive walnut-and-ebony doors with an antique Portuguese feel and custom hardware to stand up to the stone structure and Venetian plaster interior surfaces.

Our scheme for the living room was meant to inspire evening and winter entertaining, when the hosts are compelled to keep guests indoors. While large enough to host a good-sized party, the room is also cozy for one or two people. Portuguese-inspired corner banquettes are particularly conducive to reading and informal dining. We removed an awkward clerestory dormer, lightened the tone of the wood ceiling, and replaced a bland fireplace with a massive chimneypiece in walnut and antique mirror that is both dignified and whimsical.

We designed a curving staircase to give the entryway new life. An extension of the dormer in the primary bedroom and bath and the removal of walls between small rooms on the upper level transform the private spaces into a grand primary suite that includes a study, a bedroom, two dressing rooms, and a gracious bath.

Photos by Matthew Millman

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