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Gorgeous Gray Napa Valley Kitchen

Stainless-steel appliances inspire a sophisticated palette in a California showhouse

Written by Amy Elbert
  • John Merkl

    Here in the heart of California wine country, designing kitchens for entertaining and enjoying fine wines is a given. “Everyone here collects wines. That’s why we live here,” says Napa designer Christine Teicheira.

    Wine certainly played a starring role as Teicheira and fellow designer Lauren Tapper fashioned an elegant kitchen in a bungalow on the estate of the Charles Krug Winery, owned and operated by the Peter Mondavi family. The century-old residence was updated and redesigned as the 2013 Traditional Home Napa Valley Showhouse.

    The charming one-story cottage has been home to Mondavi families since the 1940s, when Peter Jr.’s grandfather, Cesare Mondavi, purchased the Charles Krug Winery. Peter Jr. and his wife, Katie, lived there for about 10 years in the 1990s. The home now serves as an entertaining venue, so the kitchen needed to be “functional and spacious,” Peter says. “We wanted a social gathering space as well as a kitchen.”

    Working within a tight time frame (the showhouse was due to open for tours in just weeks), the designers got creative fast. “There wasn’t time to tear out walls and replace cabinets, so we painted and reworked the existing cabinets,” Teicheira says.

    Upper cabinets on the cooking wall were removed, which made the room feel more spacious. Base cabinets on that wall were rebuilt so that a new 36-inch-wide gas cooktop could be centered, creating needed work space on either side.

    New stainless-steel refrigeration units, including a 42-inch-wide refrigerator, an undercounter wine refrigerator, and a wine station boosted the kitchen’s functionality. As operators of Napa Valley’s oldest winery, the Mondavis were particularly delighted with the wine station, a built-in system that preserves and dispenses wines.

    Teicheira took cues from the stainless-steel finishes and had the cabinets painted a deep blue-gray, currently one of the hottest colors for kitchens. “I wanted all the appliances to blend into the cabinetry,” Teicheira says, creating a serene and uniform backdrop. Glass knobs add a bit of glitter.

    “We’re seeing a lot more gray cabinets, and people are mixing gray with brown surfaces,” says the designer. The secret to pulling off a gray kitchen is having  plenty of natural light, she adds. 

    Peter and Katie were active in choosing appliances and materials, even conducting their own wine-spilling tests on several countertop surfaces to choose the most stain-resistant one. “There will be a lot of cooking in that kitchen, and the countertops have to stand up to acidic foods and especially wine,” Peter says.

    The winner was a brown granite with a slightly textured finish that maintains its good looks no matter what’s spilled. “The leather finish has a deeper polish than honed surfaces, and it gives the countertops a soft, velvety touch,” Teicheira explains.

    One of the kitchen’s glamour statements is a chevron-patterned tile backsplash made with polished white marble and narrow mirrored strips behind the cooktop. A similar but different-sized chevron tile design highlights the 8-inch-high sink wall backsplash.

    Textured white woven shades on the windows softly filter light and complement the white-painted window trim and marble tiles. The crowning touch is a petite crystal chandelier. “It adds some glam,” Teicheira says.

    Photography: John Merkl
    Produced by Jenny Bradley

    Interior Design: Christine Teicheira, NV Design, 1506 Main St., Napa, CA 94559; 707/251-5598,, and Lauren Tapper, Lauren Pique Designs, Sonoma, CA 95476; 951/532-5283.  

  • John Merkl

    Gray Kitchen

    After its whirlwind face-lift, the kitchen now is the toast of the winery and a cozy entertaining hub.

    Cabinetry; flooring: existing.
    Wall and cabinetry paint (“Chelsea Gray” #HC-168); ceiling paint (“Super White”): Benjamin Moore,
    Cabinetry hardware (“Clear Crackled Glass Knobs” #444869); rug runner (“Floral Medallion Flat-Woven Floor Runner” #473552): World Market,
    Countertop (“Brown Antique” slab granite/velvet finish #GR1242-SL54V0); backsplash (“Captivate Border” #MB1203-CABDP0 with “Dark Olive Narrow Liner” #MB1470-NL12H0): AKDO,
    Sink (“Stages”/Stainless Steel, 45-inches, #K-3761-NA); faucet (“HiRise” 2-hole deck mount bridge kitchen faucet #K-7337-4-S); side spray (“HiRise” independent side spray with valve #K-7344-4-S); soap dispenser (“HiRise” stainless soap dispenser” #K-7346-S): Kohler,
    Dishwasher (“Renaissance” 24-inch, #RDW24S): Dacor,
    Shades (“Alustra Woven Textures Roman Shades” in “Origins”/Cottonwood #RLWT with UltraGlide retractable cord lifting system): Hunter Douglas,
    Flowers (“Potted Agapanthus” #207919622): Z Gallerie,

  • John Merkl

    Woven Shades, Sink Zone

    • The delicate weave of  the white “Alustra Woven Textures” Roman shades from Hunter Douglas filters sunlight without darkening interiors. The UltraGlide operating system has a retractable cord mechanism to adjust shade height. That keeps dangling cords out of sight, which is more attractive and safer  for children and pets.
    • Kohler’s “HiRise” faucet makes filling and cleaning big pots easy, and the faucet’s bridge design is  a nod to the history and heritage of the 1940s cottage. The side spray  has an independent handle valve so it operates like  a mini pullout faucet.  A wood cutting board fits over the extra-deep “Stages” stainless-steel sink, simplifying food prep. 
  • John Merkl

    Paint Power, Wine Keepers

    • Why gut a kitchen when paint can do the trick? This kitchen’s  layout was efficient and the existing cabinets well built, so the designers gave the room a face-lift, painting the walls and the previously cream-colored cabinets with Benjamin Moore’s “Chelsea Gray,” a warm blue-gray hue that complements the stainless-steel appliances. 
    • The Napa Valley house is on the estate of a winery so, of course, the kitchen caters to wine lovers. An undercounter wine cooler keeps wine handy with five pullout racks that store 53-plus bottles. Temperature in the unit is adjustable. Above the cooler is the WineStation, also from Dacor, which preserves and dispenses wine from open bottles. 

    Wall ovens (“Classic 27-inch Epicure Double Wall Oven” EORD227SCH); warming drawer (“Renaissance 27-inch Epicure Warming Drawer” #EWD27SCH): Dacor,
    Refrigerator (“Discovery Integrated Built-In Refrigerator,” 42-inch #DYF42NDI); refrigerator handle (“Epicure”/Chrome #AFEB142H2CH); wine station (“Discovery WineStation” #DYWS4); wine cooler (“Epicure 24-inch Undercounter WineSteward” #EF24RWCZ1SS): Dacor,
    Wineglasses (by Schott Zwiesel): available from Sur La Table,
    Baskets above refrigerator: vintage wine boxes. 

  • John Merkl

    Sip & Save

    The Discovery WineStation uses argon gas to preserve open bottles of wine for up to 60 days without loss of flavor or aroma, allowing you to sample and save wines at your leisure. The stainless-steel temperature-controlled unit holds up to four bottles in regular and magnum sizes. Spouts dispense the wines in controllable portions (adjustable up to 8 ounces) while keeping them safe from oxidation. Lighted displays provide information such  as the wine type, year, and variety. The unit requires  no plumbing, which makes installation easy. 

    Discovery WineStation: Price: $6,090, Dacor,

  • John Merkl

    Tile & Stone, Appliances

    • A chevron-patterned mosaic made with AKDO’s Calacatta white marble and narrow mirrored tiles creates a stunning backsplash behind the cooktop. A variation on the chevron pattern is repeated on the narrow backsplash strip along the sink wall. The countertops are brown granite with a must-touch “velvet finish.”
    • Stainless-steel Dacor appliances update the kitchen’s efficiency and make entertaining here a pleasure—thanks to a 42-inch built-in refrigerator/freezer, a six-burner gas cooktop with a quiet remote blower, double wall ovens, and a warming drawer.  An integrated dishwasher quietly and efficiently handles cleanup. 

    Cooktop (“Discovery 36-inch Gas Rangetop” #EG366SCH); hood (“Renaissance Integrated Hood Liner” #IHL42, “Renaissance Remote Blower” #REMP16, “Renaissance” power pack for blower #IVSR2): Dacor,
    Backsplash (“Captivate Mosaic” #MB1203-CAPTP0 with “Calacatta Narrow Liner” #MB1203-NL12P0); countertop (“Brown Antique” slab granite/velvet finish #GR1242-SL54V0): AKDO,

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    A dining peninsula that extends from the cooktop bisects the kitchen and offers a sunny sitting spot in the middle of the action. A cut-glass crystal “Camille” chandelier from Ballard Designs illuminates the area with a dash of glam. 

  • John Merkl


    The neutral palette is enlivened with richly colored tableware: gold-fluted chargers, “Avani” floral placemats and napkins, and hammered flatware. Barstools and other accessories also from World Market.  

  • John Merkl

    Fine Finish

    Wood floors were refinished and trim painted a crisp white. The white swinging door opens to the dining room. 

    Countertop (“Brown Antique” slab granite/velvet finish): AKDO,
    Hanging light (“Camille Chandelier” #LC659): Ballard Designs,
    Counter stools (“Chase Stool with Removable Back” #467601); floral placemat and napkin (“Avani”); napkin rings (“Shiny Brass Scroll Napkin Rings” #346040); charger (“Gold Fluted Chargers” #433761); flatware (hammered silver collection); jug holding flowers (discontinued): World Market,
    Dinnerware (“White Alabaster Dinnerware”): Pier 1,

  • John Merkl

    Wine Reserve Area

    Wine and a decanter sit atop the wine reserve from Perlick, ready for company at a moment's notice.

    Wine reserve (“24-inch Signature Series Wine Reserve,” Stainless Steel, glass door, hinged right #HP24WS-3R): Perlick,
    Decanter (“Thumb Decanter” #409498); tray (pewter and mercury glass square tray, discontinued): World Market,
    Lamp; mirrors: designer’s collection.