Design Destination: Polishing Up Wine Country’s Iconic Hotel Healdsburg


With its original, minimal design by David Baker Architects, the Hotel Healdsburg put this sleepy town on the wine country map when it opened in 2001. After more than a decade, however, the owners felt it was time for this beloved luxury getaway to receive a refresh. Tapped to do the job—the original architects’ office in collaboration with Healdsburg-based Myra Hoefer Design, a firm known for its rustic luxe sensibility. “The word my mother used was ‘sexy,’” says  Lisa North, daughter of the firm’s renowned namesake designer Myra Hoefer, who passed away earlier this year. “Myra wanted spaces to be glamorous. She knew that people expect luxury in their rooms.” Having worked closely with their mother for all of their careers, North and sister Gina Gattuso had an intimate understanding of the importance of the hotel to the community and also the necessary design direction. “We wanted to respect the original architecture but move away from shiny and slick surfaces, “ Gattuso says. “We wanted to lighten it up and create up-to-date functionality.”

The renovation began this summer, when the pool area received a stunning new garden and upgrade under the direction of the hotel’s original landscape architect Andrea Cochran. Myra Hoefer Design tackled the lobby, updating worn-out surfaces, encouraging new points of interest and improving flow with better seating and brightening the overall palette. Translating this sense of polish to the 55 rooms is now underway, with completion date of February 2016.

A guestroom bathroom by Myra Hoefer Design

The first order of business—bring a fresh, uplifting feel to the rooms. The team specified Farrow and Ball Ammonite white for the walls with a pale robin egg blue for accents, which gives the rooms a holistic, seamless look.  Improved lighting was added throughout including sconces, floor lamps, beside lamps and uplights in the custom headboards designed by David Baker Architects. Textures add warmth and intrigue to the space including custom hair-on-hide benches, hammered metal bathroom accessories, and a TV cabinet in a wood herringbone pattern.

The lobby update, also by Myra Hoefer Design, was finished earlier this year.

Including local artisanship in the rooms was important to the design team. Respected local artist Wade Hoefer, whose paintings of clouds had been showcased in the original lobby design, created new paintings for each of the rooms. Additionally Jered Nelson of Jered’s Pottery from Richmond designed original ceramic works in the hotel’s signature pale blue. Many of the custom furnishings were also sourced and crafted locally.

Andrea Cochran, the original landscape architect, added new gardens to the pool area this summer.

As technology has changed so have working habits. The design team decided either to remove desks or transform them into eating surfaces with marble tops. “With wireless and mobile access now, no one sits at a desk anymore,” North says. Guests can call for room service from chef Charlie Palmer’s internationally renowned Dry Creek Kitchen just downstairs. After all these years, it seems the best of wine country is still at the doorstep.

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