Get out of the bubble
Inviting Interiors

Get out of the bubble


Like many recovering from this year’s national election shock, I have been thinking about the “bubbles” we live in, particularly in Napa and in California.

Apparently, the election confirms what we have long known: We live in a unique area of the country. Napans prize our little bubble, however, for its many gifts, varied viewpoints and way of life.

What does this have to do with interior design? I’ve often felt that the interior design aesthetic in Napa can be limiting and bubble-like. Wine country décor is a casually elegant style characterized by blending indoor and outdoor living with rustic materials. I encourage you to forgo the supremacy of the usual wine country aesthetic of barn and barrel. There is a wider world out there that can and should be brought into your home.

You can still enjoy and utilize the rustic feel of wine customs, but do so in moderation and in a modern way. To do this, think about it in terms of contrast, harmony and symmetry. Design is like choreography: You have to make sure that as you progress through space, the “dancers” both move together harmoniously and produce a cohesive story. You can have solo performances, however, that stand out and on whose energy the audience focuses. Tell a story with your choices. Honor your traditions, but embrace newness. Engage all the senses and explore the potential of texture and touch.

Color is a powerful element. It gives your space character. For contrast, harmony and symmetry, bring lighter colors into the room to balance out the darker woods. Lighter colors look great on the walls, cabinets, and flooring. In addition to white and cream, lighter shades of grey and taupe work beautifully with wine country décor. I love Farrow and Ball’s French Gray.

Strive to create balance between darkness and light while incorporating interest in unexpected details such as exposed brick, a perennial favorite that works in almost any style décor and is still current.

Bring a playful spirit to your décor. Contemporary art is a totally appropriate accompaniment to wood barrels. The metal staves and modern textures complement each other beautifully. Art deco mirrored accessories can bring that little touch of brightness too. Brightly colored towels and accessories punch up that monochromatic country look and show that you have whimsy and panache.

Think about a bright pattern of ceramic tiles for the floor instead of dark hardwood. They evoke a little bit of Mediterranean and after all, doesn’t that remind you of Tuscan or French wine country décor? Translate that Tuscan village feel into the 21st century with gray and yellow tiles look modern and fresh.

By all means, skip the industrial lighting craze. I predict many of these styles will look like the avocado appliances of the 1970s in a few years time. Again, go for something shiny and bright. It needn’t be a chandelier dripping with crystal, but track lighting, elegant glass and brass are always chic.

Above all else, experiment. Don’t be chained to slavishly follow a formulaic view of design. Be creative with your choices and you will find you have created something that is uniquely you, even if you have a wine barrel or barn door or two.

Deborah Macdonald is the owner of Textured Design Napa. Contact her at 707-255-0246, or

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