Napa Valley Modern


{The chic living loom features v-groove paneling which lends architectural interest while staying true to the idea of a modern St. Helena farmhouse.}

It’s no secret that I love everything about the Napa Valley. I dream of someday owning a house there for weekend getaways and holidays. It’s funny how as you get older, instead of seeking out as many new places as you did in your younger years, it is more appealing to revisit the places you have grown to love. That is exactly what Napa is for us. We love the landscape, the warm people who are so passionate about their various crafts; the food, and of course, the wine. While we love visiting new places, we are never quite as relaxed as when we are in Napa. In about a month, we will be heading back to the Napa Valley to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary at the very place that defines luxury in Napa Valley– Auberge du Soleil. I am counting down the days until our trip and consequently, have had Napa on mind quite a bit lately.


Since I have been daydreaming about Napa, I was thrilled to come across this chic house in charming St. Helena. Featured in Luxe Magazine and designed by Chicago-based Kara Mann, the home is a part-time residence for the homeowner. What started out as a traditional farmhouse style residence received an overhaul by Kara and architect Andrew Mann, who worked together to create an iteration of the home that feels crisper and more contemporary to suit the client’s taste. The client also wanted to make use of the vast outdoor space to allow for more indoor/outdoor entertaining. Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture replaced the front lawn with native grasses and suggested adding a pavilion which takes advantage of the neighboring vineyard creating beautiful vistas. The result is a property whose footprint is perfectly tailored to suit the needs and aesthetic preferences of the homeowners. If you also visit Napa frequently, then you know how special the light is there as it changes throughout the day. The landscape is also vibrant and colorful, changing from season to season, which is why I absolutely love that Kara opted for a perfectly neutral interior, creating the ideal canvas for what lies just beyond the home’s doors.


{The living room is flanked by a pair of Ochre sofas and selenite-topped cocktail tables by Blackman Cruz in Los Angeles.}


{The striking dining room features several statement pieces that work beautifully together including wood wing chairs from Lucca Antiques in Los Angeles, a chandelier from Liza Sherman in New York, and a vintage marble table by Angelo Mangiarotti.}


{The airy kitchen was designed with entertaining in mind.}


{A Bank of French Doors in the Master Bedroom Opens onto a Terrace}


{Designer, Kara Mann opted for modern fixtures and fittings in the master bathroom.}


 {The Entrance to the Guesthouse}


{The guesthouse was designed to be comfortable, inviting, and low maintenance, hence the slipcovered sofas and lucite bunching tables.}


{Drought Resistant Grasses and Mediterranean Plants Dot the Landscape while the Neighboring Vineyard Contributes to the Beautiful Views}


{Olive Trees and Lavender add a Quintessential Touch of Napa to the Pool Area}


{The Pavillion from Afar}


{The Pavillion features both Sitting and Dining Areas, Making it Ideal for Outdoor Entertaining.}

Paloma Signature

{Images by Matthew Millman for Luxe}

Dive Right In

Pool Kelly Wearstler

{Kelly Wearstler’s Stunning Beverly Hills Pool}

It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that summers in Houston are hot and unbearably humid. Fabian and I were just wondering the other day if it gets worse each summer or if our tolerance for the heat and humidity just grows lower as we grow older. Every year, when summer rolls around, we always lament to each other how much we wish we had a pool. We don’t plan to stay in our current home long enough to justify the expense of putting one in, but it is definitely a priority for our next house. It’s warm enough to go swimming nine months out of the year in Houston and it makes it much easier to get through the hot and sticky summer when you have a pool to cool you off– not to mention the built-in exercise and entertainment factors! As I dream about having a pool, I can’t help but be drawn to beautifully-designed pools and pool houses. I typically think simplicity is best and will endure the test of time, so you won’t see a ton of crazy shapes, slides, and water features here. Instead, I have focused on classic pools that are chic, timeless, and I would imagine quite refreshing!

Pool House AD

{I love the deep indigo color of the pool tiles in this pool and especially love the architecture of the pool house. The chippendale railing is incredible! | Image via Architectural Digest}

Pool Raleigh Hotel

{The Regency-style pool at the Raleigh Hotel in Miami is pretty major.}

pool janice parker

{The pool and surrounding area in landscape architect, Janice Parker’s Millbrook Farm project evoke thoughts of the Italian countryside. I love the simplicity of the pool and the imposing topiaries.}

Pool JK Place Capri

{The pool at the J.K. Place Hotel in Capri is the picture of chic simplicity.}

Pool AD Juan Montoya

{This gorgeous pool surrounded by hydrangea hedges is the very picture of Hamptons idyll thanks to designer, Juan Montoya. | Image via Architectural Digest}

Pool Round Cabana Domaine

{Isn’t this round pool charming? | Image via Domaine Home}

pool AD

{A Simple, Clean-Lined Pool with Slate Decking via Architectural Digest}

Pool Southern Living

{The classic gardens and symmetrical lines of this pool complement one another perfectly. | Image via Southern Living}

pool anouska hempel

{Anouska Hempel designed this lovely pool. I love the symmetrical elements surrounding the pool area– chic boxwoods in concrete pots, concrete orb objets, a pair of benches, and two whimsical umbrellas.}

Pool Carolyne Roehm

{Carolyne Roehm dotted the perimeter of her pool with white Chippendale benches and boxwood topiaries in blue and white pots, of course!}

pool decking

{I really like the simplicity of this pool and especially like the wood decking around it which looks clean and modern. | Image via Pinterest, Original Source Unknown}

Pool Howard Design TTI

{An Elegant Pool and Garden by Howard Design Studio via Things That Inspire}

Pool Luxe

{What does a modern farmhouse call for? A sleek, clean-lined pool! | Image via Luxe Magazine}

Pool Aerin Lauder ED

{Aerin Lauder’s Chic Pool and Pool House in The Hamptons via ELLE DECOR}

pool florida

{A Beautiful Pool and Lush Landscaping at a Home in Florida’s Alys Beach | Image via Pinterest}

Pool George Cukor

{Legendary Director, George Cukor’s 1930’s Pool and Pool House in Los Angeles}

Pool Estee Stanley Lux

{A Spanish-style house receives a treatment of printed cement tile and black and white striped furniture, courtesy of designer, Estee Stanley via Luxe Magazine}

Pool Kathryn M. Ireland

{Kathryn M. Ireland’s Charming Santa Monica Home features a Lovely Pool}

What is your idea of a great pool?


Design by the Details: Plaster


New Orleans Race and Religious lets the failing plaster set the tone for their events and photoshoots.

WHAT: A powder usually including a finely ground stone (sand and limestone are most common) mixed with water to form a paste that is applied to walls to harden or shaped into decorative moldings and adornments for walls and ceilings.

HISTORY:  Mixing stone powder with water resulting in plaster has been around as long as, well, stones and water.  But once humans arrived on the scene we could finally do something with it.  There are different types of plaster – generally depending on use and what exactly it is made from, but we’re talking about the type that goes on walls primarily today.  If you’ve ever seen the inside of walls in an old building with horizontal timbers (laths) oozing with lime plaster – this is what was used until drywall was introduced in the 1950s.  Plaster is applied in multiple coats by an experienced artisan- the benefits to plaster are fire-resistance, better insulation for sound and air, and it is highly durable – if it doesn’t move.

USES:  Plaster has been used to build entire structures like earthen dwellings, mold statues, and as a fire retardant.  But I’m focusing on the wall treatment in this post.  While there are products out there that seek to replicate the look of plaster, true plasterwork is a highly specialized craft.  Plaster gives your walls a depth and luminosity that paint could never achieve.  But despite its benefits and superior aesthetics, it is labor-intensive and time consuming.  Venetian plaster has marble dust in the mixture and is polished to a high shine.  While plaster is a old-world technique, it can be used in a modern way.

450 Architects made the plaster walls a highlight with minimal everything else.
A fresh traditional bathroom, Wendy Young Designs showcases plaster in two tones with hand-painted stripe between the two colors.
The home of Rory Cameron originally featured in the April 1984 issue of World of Interiors as seen on The Art of the Room demonstrated the flexibility of plaster in this nautilus inspired staircase.
Sometimes plaster has been hidden under layers of paint and wallpaper, as it is in the apartment of Thea Beasley featured in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles.
The tonal variations and depth of material is evident in this hall designed by Whitman Design Build Inc.

The original walls of the house are tsuchi-kabe (mud plastered), a traditional technique used in old houses. For an updated look, the walls were covered with shikui, or traditional Japanese plaster in this Japanese storefront featured on Remodelista.