When working on the redesign of a 4,000-square-foot Warrenton house for an international hotel executive, interior decorator Erika Bonnell took her cues from her client’s passions.
“He loves cars and planes, travel and, of course, cooking and wine. [Food and wine] are a big part of his life and he wanted to have some kind of a wine storage integrated into his home,” says Bonnell.
Beneath the staircase leading into the basement, where the temperature remains consistently cool throughout the year, Bonnell saw an opportunity to design a small wine cellar.
“It could’ve been a closet or simply dead space. Instead, we chose to build it out and give it some character,” she adds of the custom nook.
Working with Cornerstone Kitchen & Bath, Bonnell designed a system of open shelves, storage cupboards and wine racks (both X-shaped and cubbies) for storing wine bottles and related paraphernalia.
“We gave it an Old World feel, with weathered gray cabinetry, and used reclaimed wood for the ceiling. There is an old wine barrel in there, too, as well as counter space, to serve as surfaces for opening and pouring wine,” she adds.
The cellar, however, is not humidity or temperature-controlled, and is best used for shorter-term wine storage.
“The intention was easy dry-bar storage,” says Bonnell. “It’s a place where he can open a nice bottle and enjoy good wine with his friends.”
To that end, there is a nearby wine tasting room, with four club chairs set around a drum table.
“We also wrapped its walls in reclaimed barn wood for continuity with the wine cellar and added some merlot red accents,” she shares.
If budget is not an issue, and the love of wine is strong, there is a trend in larger homes toward installing wine refrigeration feature walls.
“These are integrated into architectural plans from early on,” says Patrick Cooke of Thomson Cooke Architects. “They can serve as spatial dividers in an open floor plan or serve as an actual room ‘wall’, as is the case in this home,” he continues, speaking of a recent Mclean project that incorporated a wine refrigeration wall into its dining room.
“When you have a front-and-center wine refrigeration wall, you need to be sure your other design elements are dramatic enough to stand up for it.”
Of course, serious oenophiles will also have humidity, light and temperature-controlled below-ground wine cellars for the appropriate storage and aging of their finer wines. The wine refrigeration wall feature, by contrast, becomes part of the home’s overall decor. It is ideal for storing and displaying everyday drinking wines, as well as for rotating wines out of the wine cellar.
“Pulling a ready-to-drink bottle out of a wine refrigeration wall is also much more social than going into someone’s basement,” says Cooke of the breezy ease with which homeowners can share their collections with their guests.
This particular custom unit was installed by builders Peterson & Collins. It features one-bottle depth and has integrated LED lighting, as well as a dark back wall, to display the collection at its best.
“When you have a front-and-center wine refrigeration wall, you need to be sure your other design elements are dramatic enough to stand up to it,” says interior designer Martha Vicas, who also collaborated on the home project.
Here, the other three walls are finished in a textured Phillip Jeffries wall covering in a charcoal-gray herringbone pattern, with a metallic sheen, and the ceiling holds a distinctive, yet ethereal ‘halo’ light fixture.
“For the dining furnishings, we added clean angular lines in furniture, and the hand-knotted rug in a merlot plum color also has strong presence,” adds Vicas.
As hard as you may try otherwise, kitchens tend to be the go-to gathering place during parties or get-togethers,” says Anne Marie Hauer of Choux Designs, which is based in The Plains. “Even if you have a small kitchen, it’s not hard to carve out a bar area, either as a designated or dual-purpose spot.”
In her own family’s farmhouse, when remodeling the 160-square-foot U-shaped kitchen, Hauer set aside a countertop—adjacent to the open dining area and above the microwave oven—for just such a purpose.
“All you need is a small counter area and a shelf or two for glasses,” she says, adding, “Of course, if you have the extra space, a wet sink, built-in bottle storage and a beverage refrigerator always make the bar area more official.”
In Hauer’s beverage bar, an antiqued brass sconce (for task lighting) and a poplar wood shelf (for glass storage) nestle against her kitchen’s painted shiplap walls, but what really creates the bar area’s spatial definition is a pair of wall-mounted vintage wine barrel taps. She found them on Etsy.
“My husband is a home brewer, so his only ‘ask’ when planning the renovations to our farmhouse was an area to have his beer on tap,” she adds of the unusual feature. “What’s even more fun about the taps is that they can also be used for root beer (for the kids) or even wine during parties; it’s all a matter of changing the pressure gasses used to push the liquids.”
Hauer says the space can easily double as a coffee station during the day, but most importantly, it gives a focal point for sharing wine or beer, with nibbles, for when they have friends or family visit.