A Look Inside The French Laundry's Stunning $10M Renovation

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Chef Thomas Keller's three-starred Michelin restaurant receives a $10,000,000 renovation—its first major revamp in over 20 years.

Since its opening in 1994, The French Laundry has been recognized as a beloved mecca for fine French cuisine. Now, the high-end restaurant is giving guests another reason to make a reservation. After collaborating with design studio Snøhetta and San Francisco–based firm Envelope A+D, Chef Keller has recently unveiled the highly anticipated renovation for his exclusive Wine Country eatery located in Yountville, California. 

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Arriving at The French Laundry, guests now begin their experience through a sequence of new garden spaces. Visitors follow a bluestone path through the entrance into the heart of the breathtaking garden. 

Arriving at The French Laundry, guests now begin their experience through a sequence of new garden spaces. Visitors follow a bluestone path through the entrance into the heart of the breathtaking garden. 

Shaped by simple geometrics that are both modern and reminiscent of agrarian architectural forms, the renovation doubles the size of the existing landscape and provides a world-class working environment for Keller and his team within the historic two-story stone cottage.

The addition is clad in contemporary fritted glass and shou sugi ban—rustic charred wood—by Delta Millworks. Both materials contrast with the historic stonework of the original building.

The addition is clad in contemporary fritted glass and shou sugi ban—rustic charred wood—by Delta Millworks. Both materials contrast with the historic stonework of the original building.

The latest kitchen annex houses the restaurant’s supporting functions, including the site's butchery, produce storage, and wine cellar that stores up to 15,000 bottles. 

Flush at the corners where the eaves of the roof meet the siding, the kitchen’s streamlined body is partly covered in charred wood. 

Flush at the corners where the eaves of the roof meet the siding, the kitchen’s streamlined body is partly covered in charred wood. 

Throughout the project, Snøhetta spent time with Chef Keller’s team, observing them in the kitchen. The new layout "not only optimizes the team's efficiency but also fosters a meaningful environment for the chefs who work there," the team explains. 

The pitched low-slung roofs of the kitchen and annex allude to their utilitarian function. 

The pitched low-slung roofs of the kitchen and annex allude to their utilitarian function. 

The familiarity and warmth of the burned finish juxtapose the fritted glass that wraps around the corner of the building. 

The familiarity and warmth of the burned finish juxtapose the fritted glass that wraps around the corner of the building. 

When viewed up close, the frit reveals a dense composition of layered curves, evoking the motions of the chefs’ hands at work. 

When viewed up close, the frit reveals a dense composition of layered curves, evoking the motions of the chefs’ hands at work. 

The 2,000-square-foot kitchen provides a comfortable, light-filled environment for the chefs, and is now configured as a single, continuous space. Keller chose Dekton for the walls and countertops. "Number one, it has high resistance to heat, which is great," he says. "And it's actually stain-proof. From an aesthetic point of view, it's quite stunning when you walk in."

The 2,000-square-foot kitchen provides a comfortable, light-filled environment for the chefs, and is now configured as a single, continuous space. Keller chose Dekton for the walls and countertops. "Number one, it has high resistance to heat, which is great," he says. "And it's actually stain-proof. From an aesthetic point of view, it's quite stunning when you walk in."

With 25 percent more working space than the previous kitchen, the expansion is meticulously organized and allows direct visual connections between all stations. 

With 25 percent more working space than the previous kitchen, the expansion is meticulously organized and allows direct visual connections between all stations. 

The curved form of the kitchen ceiling evokes a tablecloth being gently unfurled across a table, patterned with delicate wrinkles in the gypsum fiber-reinforced panels. These sweeping vaults conceal the ceiling’s functional elements, while also revealing long skylights that flood the kitchen with natural light. The concave ceiling enhances the acoustics within the space.

The curved form of the kitchen ceiling evokes a tablecloth being gently unfurled across a table, patterned with delicate wrinkles in the gypsum fiber-reinforced panels. These sweeping vaults conceal the ceiling’s functional elements, while also revealing long skylights that flood the kitchen with natural light. The concave ceiling enhances the acoustics within the space.

A look at the new dining area off the manicured garden.

A look at the new dining area off the manicured garden.

The French Laundry’s iconic blue door. 

The French Laundry’s iconic blue door. 

To read more about the world-renowned restaurant, or to make a reservation, check out the website here.


Project Credits:

Design Architect & Landscape Architect: Snøhetta 

Executive Architect: Envelope A+D 

Local Landscape Architect: Terremoto 

Local Landscape Architect Consultant: Martin Poirier, PWP Landscape 

Architecture Acoustician: Arup Construction Manager: Wright Contracting 

Food Service Consultant: Harrison Koellner, LLC 

Structural Engineer: Vaziri Structural Engineering MEP 

Engineers: Guttmann Blaevoet Consulting Engineering 

Civil Engineer: CAB Consulting Engineering 

Geotechnical Engineer: RGH Consultants, Inc.

Traffic Consultant: Crane Transportation Group 

Waterproofing Consultant: Neumann Sloat Blanco Architects LLP 

Ceiling Manufacturer: GC Products Solar Panels: NRG 

Walls, flooring, and countertops: Dekton by Cosentino Ventilated 

Ceiling systems: Halton America