Landscape Design Magic…

Inside the Enchanting ‘Contento’ Estate in St. Helena

Within the heart of Napa Valley lies St. Helena, where small-town charm harmonizes with sophistication. Nestled in this idyllic setting is the sprawling 3-acre residence named “Contento,” a Spanish term that encapsulates happiness. The house, a seamless blend of indoor-outdoor living, has become a serene retreat. “That it was the perfect home in the most perfect setting was an inspiration to me,” recalls Inner Gardens landscape designer Stephen Block. The architectural expanse boasts generous spaces and soaring ceilings, and it’s here that Inner Gardens brought to life the homeowners’ dreams, incorporating the stunning landscape and exterior features that are both functional and magical. Photography by John Merkl.
The enchanting courtyard featuring a 15th century French limestone fountain
“The project began as a blank canvas,” explains Inner Gardens landscape designer Kimberlee Keswick. “It was a spec house that the owner bought. The client wanted to make this property all about a sensory experience.” The homeowners desired an opportunity to cultivate their own food, resulting in a landscape palette that revolved around the edible and herbal. Fruiting olive trees, stone fruit trees, fig trees, herbs like rosemary and lavender, and even a vegetable garden contributed to this vision. The aim was to create a farm-to-table experience right at their doorstep. Keswick shared, “I worked with the chef, so it was fun to see how excited they were to plan their meals around the harvest from the vegetables and fruit.” Their passion extended to their own vineyard, producing the celebrated Cabernet that defines the region. “That’s why we decided on a tree-lined driveway,” Keswick mentioned, underlining the property’s wine country essence. This collaboration not only underscores the estate’s dedication to nature, but also brings an element of culinary treasures to the forefront.
Outdoor seating and plantings designed by landscape designer Stephen Block.
Two large Palms with Mediterranean Spanish Jars placed throughout the property
Outdoor sofas and planters in a Napa Valley home with landscape design by Stephen Block
A seating area featuring mature olive trees
In the courtyard, a 15th century French limestone well was transfored into a fountain, a centerpiece that marries history with the comtemporary. Keswick enthused, “We use a lot of limestone and Mediterranean Spanish jars.” These one-of-a-kind objects are sourced by Stephen’s worldwide travels in search of rare French and Italian antiques.
The tree-lined driveway with lavender
The guest house boasts two guest rooms adorned with Inner Gardens antique industrial iron containers filled with citrus shrubs, giving them gravitas while simultaneously grounding the spaces. The Quince Espalier lends charem and functionality, as quince jams are crafted from its fruits. The estate is a bountiful haven with cherry trees, apple trees, citrus trees, plum trees, and beehives (which the owner particularly had a deep love for). The exterior dining area adorned with climbing wisteria invites guests to relish the beauty of al fresco dining. Keswick confirmed that the wisteria was thoughtfully added to enhance the ambiance. “For the owner, it was really about the outdoor experience,” Keswick noted. The property serves as a hub for gatherings, be it for a family meal or a grand party. The carefully chosen elements have fostered a connection between nature and the homeowner’s cherished memories.
Exterior dining area wth climbing wisteria, designed by Stephen Block of Inner Gardnes
The exterior dining area featuring climbing wisteria
Ploants and shrubs next to a family vineyard, designed by Stephen Block
A Mediterranean grouping with the family vineyard in the backdrop
“Contento” stands as a testament to the fusion of aspiration and artistry, where the exterior is not just a backdrop, but a living canvas that mirrors the joys of life in the Napa Valley.