Ma(i)sonry’s Rustic Charm
Comfortable style in Yountville, California.
“What I’m always after is patina. I don’t want a perfect finish. I want banged up, beaten up, termite holes even,” says Michael Polenske, owner of the 3,000-square-foot, six-month-old home furnishings store Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley, as he sweeps his hand over a late-18th-century walnut commode. With its pebbly feel, the piece, priced at $8,000, is reminiscent of a treasured heirloom—just one of the many items he has culled from quaint European markets, stateside auctions, and big-name international furniture fairs.
Originally built in 1904 as a home for Napa Valley farmer Charles Rovegno and up until 2007 a seven-bedroom inn, Ma(i)sonry is one of two Yountville stone buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. (The French Laundry is the other.) After a dramatic 18-month renovation—the façade remains largely unchanged—it now houses what Polenske calls a living gallery.
The building and garden combine wine (Polenske founded the nearby cult winery Blackbird Vineyards in 2003), art, antiques, and, most important, the people who pursue all three pleasures. In a private wine-tasting room overlooking the garden, the in-house director of wine, Anthony DiCarlo, might pair, say, Cabernets from limited-production Napa Valley wineries like Pedras Wine Company and Lail Vineyards with a plate of local cheeses.
But the main focus—and perhaps Polenske’s real passion—is home furnishings. With the assistance of art historian Barbara Hennings-Huep, who has worked for the Guggenheim in New York and Venice, he has curated a selection of antique, vintage, and contemporary pieces that come together surprisingly harmoniously. Caveat emptor: None of this comes gently priced. In the main sitting room an 18th-century Italian armchair, reupholstered in white calf hair ($5,500), sits beside a shocking-yellow acrylic console ($9,000) from Alexandra von Furstenberg’s furniture line—Ma(i)sonry is the only place in the country, aside from Von Furstenberg’s Los Angeles showroom, where her futuristic designs can be purchased. A bespoke collection from English decorator and furnituremaker David Linley is under way, as is a deal to show works from the London-based Hamiltons Gallery. Outdoors, redwood dining tables from artist and designer Ron Mann can accommodate dinner parties underneath centuries-old olive trees.
The best part? All the furniture, art, and accessories—even the Hudson Furniture Crystal Waters chandeliers suspended on wire ($7,000)—are for sale. And while the store carries its own collection of refurbished vintage pieces, a new Ma(i)sonry line of furniture is expected to launch later this year.
It should be noted that Polenske’s acquisitive interest in design isn’t rooted in any formal training—instead it comes from decorating his own San Francisco penthouse and his place in Lake Tahoe. By combining a rustic earnestness with highbrow aesthetics, Polenske has created a brand that reflects his own personal style. Explains Barlas Baylar of Hudson Furniture, “Michael has a passion for the way in which meticulously handcrafted products, be it wine or furniture, can ultimately be luxurious.”
Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley is located at 6711 Washington St., Yountville (707-944-0889; maisonry.com).