California represents the epitome of casual chic and it’s hard to imagine a more enviable laid back lifestyle than in the beautiful Napa Valley. In the heart of wine country, with stunning scenery as a backdrop for world renowned vineyards and spectacular restaurants, St. Helena is where sophistication and small town charm go hand in hand. It was here that four years ago, San Francisco designer Hillary Thomas, below, and husband Jean-Pierre Conte purchased a three-acre property. With the house still under construction, there was time for Thomas to put her personal style stamp on it.
Named “Contento,” (happy in Spanish), the house has a breezy indoor-outdoor feel that functions fabulously as a relaxing escape for their large combined family of six children. Large open spaces and exceptionally high ceilings demanded hefty scale and in the entry rustic chic rules. A painted vintage console, artisanal wood and metal sconces, overscaled pierced mirror and Carved Oak Sphere Chandelier by Paul Marra reference the wood paneling and sliding doors with barn-like appeal.
Large scale lighting is a recurrent theme and the sculptural “Sphere in Sphere” chandeliers from Coup d’Etat in the dining room are substantial statement makers without sacrificing the open and airy theme. Natural textures – wicker, linen and wood – set a casual tone and a custom dining table provides ample seating for frequent entertaining. Often in the mix is the “Contento” cabernet, made by a local winery from grapes on the property.
Geometry is at play in the living room where classic simple shapes echo the strong architectonic lines. A pair of Hollywood at Home Hogan Sofas square off with a custom coffee table and cube-like club chairs are softened with Idarica Gazzoni’s “Flower” fabric. Christian Astuguevieille’s “Mitako” stool for Holly Hunt of painted cotton rope provides an octagonal punctuation point of texture. It’s all about scale and proportion when filling such vast spaces and the theme of bold lighting continues as Lucca Antiques‘ Sebtastian chandelier and Brody floor lamps ground the room with height, stature and symmetry. Photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto‘s “Lightning Fields” adds an element of nature at its most dramatic to the space.
The courtyard is a casual outdoor room with the transportive scent, sound and flavor of terroir. Splendid 75 year old olive trees, imparting feathery texture, ethereal color and coveted shade, were brought in by crane to the site. A 15th-century French fountain gurgles in the background while family and visitors relax on Sutherland’s teak Poolside Collection. And the mosaic-like grass encased pavers provide the only art needed for this natural respite.
all photos by John Merkl
You can see the rest of Thomas’ beautiful home, featured on the cover below, in the July/August issue of Traditional Home due out later this week!