Girly Modern Goes to Wine Country: Part I


When my phone rang with an offer to design a room at a Napa winery, I thought I was dreaming.  In August 2012, I got the call from one of my favorite magazines, Traditional Home, to design a showroom in one of my favorite places, Napa Valley.  I was invited to participate in the first Napa Valley Showhouse which involved a guest house on a working vineyard.  It took me about a second before I sealed the deal with a resounding “hells yeah!”

Showhouses are a double-edged sword.  The upside is that they are a creative free-fall, a completely blank canvas awaiting all the ideas that fill my sketchbooks.  I’m free of client responsibilities to incorporate grammy’s stuffy sofa or the heirloom collection of hand-knitted doilies into the design.  I could do anything!  Complete and total design liberation!  And that’s when the hammer drops.  I. could. do. anything.  Since I had been dreaming of designing at a vineyard for years, the ideas were fast and furious.  I took comfort in the wisdom of Donatella Versace, “Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.”  If that’s the case, my creativity was overflowing.

The only design direction imposed was simply “Napa Style”.  I knew I wanted to avoid the obvious and obscene such as grape leaf wallpaper border.  But I also wanted to steer clear of the a few of the current trends like furniture that appears to have fallen out of an airplane and rustic over-scaled pieces that looked as if they have just been pulled out of the world’s largest barn.  After a brief creative freak out that involved a kitchen table full of magazine tear-outs and speed-clicking through Pinterest,  I remembered I should stick to what I do best – girly modern. With some self-imposed boundaries in place, here’s the path we took:

Balcony Color Board


Bedroom Color Board

Living in the hustle of San Francisco, Napa Valley is my escape hatch into the natural world.  I knew I wanted nature to be a prominent theme in my design.  My sweetly supportive and enthusiastic assistant, Adrienne, quickly got on-board and found us the beautiful lambswool bench.  I discovered these stone unicorns and amazing wing pendants.  The foundation of the room’s design was built around this gorgeous bird fabric by LuluDK.  In a full circle side note, I realized last night that this is the same fabric used in Blair Waldorf’s new atelier.  If you don’t know who Blair is, read about my obsession here.

Bird fabric by LuluDK

Blair Waldorf’s new atelier (source:

I will reveal the finished design in the next post,  In the meantime, get a glimpse in this short video tour of the Napa Valley Design Showhouse.  If you’re in Northern California, check out the design in person before November 11th and be sure to sneak in some time to enjoy a few of the best wines in the world.  I recommend Cardinale, Robert Sinskey, and Kathryn Hall wineries.

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