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A Winemaker's Bachelor Pad Do it Yourself. Do it with Heart.

Updated: Feb 11

(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)


Martini-drinking, tuxedo-wearing, Dean Martin Rat Pack movies come to mind when I think of bachelor pads. But my client's home, filled with family treasures and handcrafted furniture, dispels that stereotype. When Paul asked me to help pull together his new Rutherford home, I had no idea I'd be taking such a heartfelt trip down memory lane.


It's always my goal to create a home that reflects a client’s personal interests, tastes, and lifestyle. In Paul's case, the hard part was already done. Everything he showed me had a story. If something had not belonged to his great-grandparents, it was something he and his dad had built together, or a gift his mother had given him.


If we're lucky, we all have one or two things that bring us back to our childhood or to a precious moment. Every time I see my grandmother's ravioli wheel displayed in its special place in my kitchen, I smell basil and Parmesan. I relive feelings of an eager kid waiting to see what magic she will cook. Take a look around your house. What is buried deep in your cupboards? What is boxed up in your attic? What brings back a memory that can start your day with a smile? How can you integrate them into your décor? If you’re handy, what can you re-purpose for a new use? Maybe my collaboration with Paul will give you some ideas.


A winemaker by trade, Paul made use of a few empty wine casks in an unusual way. With his dad’s help, he built an assortment of tables – along with a bank full of father-son memories. Together, they also created a dining table by re-configuring sparkling wine riddling racks. All with skillful craftsmanship, I should add.


The dining table is not the only thing that evokes his guests’ lively conversation. One wall graces Paul’s great-grandfather's Indian blanket, awarded to him for selling the most WWII bonds in his hometown. Another displays his mother's pen and ink drawings of historic Napa, framed in reclaimed barn wood.


Being more interested in wine than storage, Paul converted a hall closet into a wine closet with – you guessed it - more wine casks. The highlight of this transformation is the Ecuadoran-style door, gifted to him from the owner of a local inn.


Fly-fishing is in Paul's genes. A collection of his great-grandfather’s cane rods are mounted on his fireplace wall with 19th century hand-forged nails. Not only can he recall using them on his own fishing trips, but Paul can also imagine his ancestor fishing with them 130 years ago. As both a designer and a friend, I’m torn between this display's sentimental value and the fact that it is one of my all-time favorite graphic statements!


One of Paul's favorite fishing spots is in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. He brought back a Lodgepole Pine log, spliced it, drilled it, and created a chandelier. He spliced the remaining half again and mounted it on his entry wall which serves as a shelf.


Paul’s house is not a typical bachelor pad or man cave. It is welcoming, comfortable, and rich with unique and sentimental value. His keepsakes commemorate the past and connect with current interests. We've all heard "Home is where the heart is". In Paul's case, the reverse is also true.


Don’t despair if you don't have a tool belt and table saw, or an attic full of family heirlooms. It's not too late to incorporate meaningful pieces in your home. When you're out and about, take notice when something reminds you of special moments, a family member, a close friend, a hobby you have, or a vacation you took. As long as the memories have deep meaning, they'll make you smile each time you see them. They'll help document your history and teach your children about their family roots.

To clarify, this is not a column about collecting “stuff”. “Stuff” can mean clutter, dust, and money spent unwisely. Rather, it’s about checking the value of the stuff you do have. If you don’t love it, use it, or have a personal attachment to it, give it to someone who will. Each time you do that, you make room for something that touches your heart.

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