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PROVENCE in Wine CountryQ

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By Ann Shogren


BRICKS&MORTAR

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You can practically smell the fresh French croissants when you see these unique custom doors designed with a real French flair for style.

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PROVENCE

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in By Ann Shogren

In the charming little Napa Valley town of St. Helena, a short walk down an inviting Main Street alley and a turn into an arched Portola takes you to an almost secret shop. A place where the shopkeepers invite you in with old world charm and your eyes are delighted with

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directly from France and Spain.

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layers and layers of fabulous pieces sourced

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Portalais Showroom (above). Owner, Lou Hughes in front of a antique door imported by Portalais from Montpelier, France. (right)

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Have you ever wondered where the discerning Designer or homeowner finds that one choice architectural object or amazing old world doors that absolutely make the space? Pieces and doors with the texture and the hand we covet? Made by old world craftsmen who still know the secrets of generations? Wonder no longer. In this vine covered, old stone building, hidden in a St. Helena alley, you will find wonders and treasures you would normally have to travel an ocean to find.


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Custom cupboard doors made by French craftsmen look like real antiques.

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Lou Hughes and his business partner Lee Staton are a joy to meet. Disarmingly gregarious, these guys remember what “service� is all about and happily take the time to show you through the shop, explaining the origin and workmanship involved in each door and object. Some pieces are magnificent one of a kind antiques from places like Montpelier, France, others are reproductions made in the French or Spanish style and look just like an original. There is so much carefully packed into the shop that you can find your self spending hours pouring over the various doors, finishes and authentic french hardware. It is so entertaining, that I have been know to take friends there just to browse and chat.

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Lou has spent years developing his own French sources. He will even offer to take you on a personal tour in France to help you find all the perfect pieces to make your project phenomenal. We all know it is just these kinds of artistic and architectural pieces that take a project from drab to fab. Now you know where to find them.


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Real french shutters add authentic ambiance.

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Though Portalais keeps a fairly low profile, their pieces are so unique and hard to find that people from all over the country come to Portalais to import such things as real Italian terra cotta, antique stone fountains and fireplaces, authentic antique roofing tiles, unique exterior doors, french steel doors, spanish windows and of course entire homes full of interior doors with style and real french panache. According to Lou, “Our clients return from their travels in Europe and have fallen in love with classic, timeless look and feel of the architecture. They want to recreate a home in the style of a Maison de Bordeaux, a castle in the Liore valley, a summer home in Provence or a classic Tuscan farm house.�

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Portalais craftsmen are masters of french reproduction pieces. With Lou and Lee, custom concepts easily move from a sketch on a napkin to beautifully rendered architectural drawings made just for you in France. Then, on to custom handmade doors with the final installation impossible to tell from a real french antique.

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Custom, authentic French doors at the left make this new structure look like it has always been there.

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I discovered Portalais while I was visiting a Realtor friend just across the way and peeked into Portalais’ window. Voila! Portalais was just what every design lover hopes to discover but never expects to. So, when traveling in the heart of Napa Valley, and you see an interesting alcove, down a long alley, it just might be the find of your life. That is, if you like super cool architectural stuff like I do. It’s in such a discrete location that you might need directions or a map. I think that the map to Portalais should be marked with a big “X” for “treasure”. d

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portalais.com


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Provence in Wine Country