Home & Garden

There's room at the SummerWood Inn in Paso Robles

An overview of the SummerWood Inn from the front entrance.
An overview of the SummerWood Inn from the front entrance.

Built in 1994, the inn at SummerWood Winery was by no means aging. But its owner felt a remodel would help guests better connect with the inn and its staff.

The contemporary farmhouse was originally the Arbor Inn, built by the Hope family as part of Treana Winery. Japanese businessman Kesao Fukae, who has an affinity for California wines, purchased both the winery and inn in 2000.

SummerWood Inn underwent a minor remodel to its guest suites in 2007. Two years ago, managers made plans to freshen up old paint, replace worn floors and update furnishings. One brainstorm led to another.

“We had the idea of opening up and moving the location of the commercial kitchen,” assistant general manager Kim Murphy-Rodrigues said. “Along the way, we determined the need to open up the staircase, and add more natural lighting with the addition of windows and skylights.”

The remodel team included architect Greg Wynn and Ricigliano Construction. Mari Landscaping handled a revamp of the gardens.

The inn’s executive chef and manager Kelly Wangard oversaw the project and handled all of the interior design.

“With my background in high-end resorts and hotels, I felt like I understood what is needed and what I like to find in a luxury hotel,” said Wangard.

The inn is 9,000 square feet, which encompasses nine guest suites, including a luxury suite on the third floor. Yet walled-off spaces on the first floor made communal areas feel cramped and were not conducive to interaction between guests and the inn’s staff.

Wangard’s aim was to open up and brighten the space, and update the decor.

She began with intensive research, visiting properties in Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco and Newport Beach. She spent “endless nights of pinning on Pinterest, gathering images on Houzz, and any designing magazines and catalogs I could get my hands on,” she recalls.

The crew began by removing walls that separated the office, kitchen and dining room. They removed a staircase wall to unite it with the great room. Additional windows and skylights now flood the space with natural light.

Wangard used her instincts as a chef to concoct an inviting interior.

“Creating a living space is very similar to creating a dish in the fact that you need to have similarities and contrasts, color, and textures,” she said.

Her design weaves together multiple contrasts: vintage with modern, rustic with refined, simple with luxurious. Uniting everything is a soothing, neutral palette and clean lines.

The home is suffused with texture, creating a warm and welcoming environment.

Contemporary French wingback chairs in the great room are clad in nubby gray burlap. The eight indoor-outdoor dining tables have galvanized steel tops and bases made of teak salvaged from old chests. The fireplace mantel in the living room is made from salvaged barn wood, still bearing old nails. Above it is a design created from old wine barrel hoops.

Because the previous interior was very traditional in style, Wangard had to replace most furnishings, primarily with pieces from Habitat in San Luis Obispo. She used farmhouse elements as accents, choosing mostly contemporary furniture in a clean and spare design scheme.

“The contemporary slant is to make us unique from other farmhouse concepts,” she said. “Vintage accessories and distressed furniture give a feeling of warmth and coziness, however too much of it can feel cluttered and just old.”

Naturally, Wangard spent some time designing the ideal kitchen for the many weddings and banquets that take place at the winery — as well as for the gourmet breakfasts and appetizers served to inn guests.

The enlarged, open kitchen now allows Wangard and her crew to interact with guests while preparing food. Amenities include a Viking range with a fryer, French cooktop, griddle, grill and four burners. There are four refrigeration drawers, a convection oven, triple and double door refrigerators and a double stack convection oven.

The inn boasts its fair share of luxury including high-end bedding, silver and crystal accents and spa-like bathrooms.

But Fukae and his staff wanted to balance luxury with sustainability.

According to Murphy-Rodrigues, the team rebuilt selectively, instead of gutting or demolishing the structure. Most construction materials removed from the site were sent to a certified recycling facility.

Wangard chose locally-sourced materials and those with a high recycled content whenever possible. She used many water and energy-efficient fixtures.

The building also offers energy-efficient ways to withstand the North County heat such as improved insulation, a shaded west-facing porch, and roof overhangs positioned to shade windows. Many furnishings and accessories were made from recycled or salvaged materials. Art pieces along the hallway outside the guest suites are made from reclaimed wood salvaged from a local barn. Wangard framed a horseshoe found on the property for display in a guest room. Even the drinking glasses are made from recycled wine bottles.

The inn was reopened last August after being closed for nine months. Since then, the inn’s staff has seen firsthand how a change in space can alter the experience of both staff and guests.

“The design encourages guests and our inn staff to interact,” said Murphy-Rodrigues. “Guests are now an active part of our inn.”

Reach Rebecca Juretic at rajuretic@sbcglobal.net.