As the 11,000-square-foot villa Matthews
helped fashion took shape in Napa Valley, his
firm, Matthews Studio, designed rooms that
are a blend of vintage style and modernity.
The Italianate architecture seems authentic in part because Umbrian architect Riccardo Caracciolo created the master plan for
the site. The vineyards were planted first and
then came a guesthouse from where the clients
spent the next couple of years directing the
building of the main house and several ancillary structures. Under the owners’ guidance,
several local architects realized Caracciolo’s vision, and landscape designer Frederika Moller
added old olive trees to existing stands of live
oaks, to lend a sense of age.
“The style of the main stone-and-stucco
house alludes to a typical Umbrian farmhouse
that would have grown grander by accretion
over several generations,” Matthews says. He
has also lived in Italy and, given his experience, was elected to work on the interiors
and help make material selections for every
building. The architect had picked vintage
clay roof and ceiling tiles, terra-cotta pavers
and chestnut wood beams; Matthews Studio
tracked down bathroom and kitchen materials, including pietra serena stone trims for all
windows, doorways and flush baseboards as
well as carved stone basins, all from Italy.
When local craftspeople contributed their
skills to the assembly, they all channeled Italy.
For example, hand-troweled integrally colored
interior plaster walls by Napa’s TBC Plaster
Artisans are in the Italian tradition, and San
Francisco sculptor Nathan Hunt’s pietra serena stone plaque inset into the stucco wall
flanking the front entrance was inspired by
carvings he had spotted in Umbria.
While it is a palatial traditional-looking
farmhouse, “up-to-date technology also makes
it an early smart home,” Matthews says. Heating, cooling, lighting, security, window shades
and a state-of-the-art media system can all be
controlled remotely. There is also a solar panel
array on the site.
At the heart of all of this old and new grandeur are spaces for eating well.
“We knew that my clients would do a lot of
family entertaining and throw large parties,”
Matthews says. “Yet it was important to provide more intimate areas to dine in when they
were by themselves.”