Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

A Napa Valley Architect Designs Himself a Restaurant


A Napa Valley Architect Designs Himself a Restaurant

September 4, 2012

Northern Californian architect Howard Backen designs an office for himself—and adds an adjoining restaurant that draws the locals in St. Helena.

Backen (of Backen Gillam Kroeger Architects) is well versed in both the retail world (clients include Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware) and the restaurant business (he designed the first Il Fornaio, then the ensuing 20). Designing his own restaurant was a different matter: "Whenever we designed a restaurant before I didn't always get my own way, but this time there was no one to answer to but myself, and it had to be done to perfection." The result? French Blue: a large living room like space with open kitchen, beyond which lies Backen's architectural office that leads onto a courtyard. Open from breakfast through late dinner, French Blue is still in its early days but Backen has plans to open his office courtyard to guests for wine tastings and art shows on weekends. In a town often swamped by tourists, French Blue has become a welcome place for locals.

Photography by Eric Wolfinger.

700 french blue shelves eric wolfinger 1

Above: In lieu of art on the wall, Backen has made the display shelves an architectural focal point, displaying French Blue branded products that will rotate over time. (The line includes chopping boards, aprons, and striped blankets; an online store is in the works.) The shelves are back lit with LED dimmable lighting that provides a soft warm glow.

700 french blue interior 2 eric wolfinger 1

Above: The seating is by Janus et Cie, made at a custom height for the tables. The floors are from reclaimed French oak, which is also used for the table tops.

700 french blue interior eric wolfinger 1

Above: Backen rehabilitated the original building, keeping the trusses and open ceiling. The paint on the walls is a Backen favorite: Benjamin Moore Mayonnaise (at the local Napa paint store, the shade is affectionately known as "Backen White").

700 french blue saint helena

Above: The walls are clad in simple Douglas fir with a smooth finish, while the countertops are covered in zinc, which Backen chose for its durability and softness.

700 french blue entrance 700 french blue patio 3 tim kennedy 1

Above: The outdoor patio with an open fireplace.

N.B.: To see more of Backen's work, visit our Remodelista Architect's Directory.

(Visited 221 times, 1 visits today)
You need to login or register to view and manage your bookmarks.

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation