Napa Valley, California has a history of winemaking that dates back to the 1830s. The valley is not only rich in the expected vineyards, but also has an abundance of agriculture from livestock, floral, nursery and vegetable producers to the possibly unexpected olive growers. Mountains surround the hilly countryside where varieties of grapes grow in scenic rows, with those varietals of grapes being developed from transplanted species from around the world. Millions of visitors gather yearly in the Napa region to experience the beauty, food and wine. Much fewer numbers call the area their home. Residents with a sense of humor refer to themselves as “Napkins,” while others prefer the term “Napans.” While some are native to the area, like many of the grapes growing nearby, most residents are transplants as well.

Nick and Colleen Dewald transplanted to Napa from Colorado, but the two have roots that were once firmly planted in Ohio cities — Nick from Mansfield and Colleen from Zanesville. They met while attending Wittenberg University and, upon graduation, followed one another to Colorado to pursue professions, adventures, and a love of the outdoors. During their Colorado years, the couple married and added another love to their list of activities: designing and fixing up homes. Long before the celebrity success of television “fixer-upper” couples, Nick and Colleen were tackling renovation projects from the Colorado Mountains to downtown Denver. I first met the Dewalds while working on a “design from a distance” project for Nick’s parents, Dr. Don and Jennie Dewald. They had purchased a home next door to the younger Dewalds and had hired me to help them furnish and decorate the house. Several years later, when Colleen’s profession took her to Napa, California, Nick and Colleen contacted and hired me to help them with their newest project.

I’m guessing you might be thinking, “Why do people hire her when they are designing from so far away? Surely there are capable designers in those large cities.” It simply comes down to one word: TRUST. Every client that I work with in other states comes to me from a referral or from having met me while I have been working on a venture in their city. The Dewalds could have chosen from a multitude of designers in Napa, but since they trusted my knowledge of design we went to work designing from a distance.

Real estate is extremely expensive in California, and the Napa region comes at a premium. So when Nick and Colleen set out to purchase their home, they knew they would need to look for an older home in an up-and-coming neighborhood that was solidly built and had fixer-upper potential. They found a Spanish-style brick that fit their requirements in 2014, and quickly knew they had chosen wisely when the home survived a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in September of that year!

One of the first things we did was decide the best use of available investment dollars to make the biggest impact on the remodel. It is important to understand the real estate values when refurbishing a home so that a return on the investment can be realized when moving onto the next undertaking. The Dewalds and I chose the flooring and kitchen as the starting focus. While the home had marble floors throughout, it was dated, and its colors were unflattering for newer design. The kitchen was dark, and the cabinets were unsalvageable due to moisture and mold issues. We chose rustic-looking large wood-planked floors, white kitchen cabinets, quartz countertops, a chevron patterned backsplash and updated lighting. All rooms were newly painted, the bathrooms received some updating with more to come at a later date, and the outside landscaping was spruced up and cleaned up.

The Dewalds and I worked via technology to choose product and floorplans, and during trips back to Ohio to visit families, we met at my store to work on color scheme and furniture. Recently, I flew out to California to see the progress of our project, vision cast the next phases indoors, and discuss the grand plans Nick and Colleen have for their outdoor living space and existing pool. This talented couple is well on their way to making their abode one of the best on their block in the quaint city of Napa.

Napa is a city and region I greatly enjoyed visiting and exploring with Nick and Colleen as my private tour guides. We dined riverside in downtown Napa, drove through picturesque countryside and toured and tasted at some of the finest wineries that Napa Valley has to offer.

Now that’s what I call designing from a distance... Napa style.