A contemporary twist on wine storage
By Christina Kleiner | Photos by Craig Thompson
Wine cellars have long been synonymous with rich woods, elegant murals depicting vineyards and beautifully carved wrought iron doors and accouterments. But times are changing, as more home-owners opt to modernize their personal spaces with streamlined designs and materials. In fact, a pair of homeowners here in Pittsburgh has turned collecting wine into a modern art form.
Wine as art
Kevin and Tammy McCarl incorporated their passion for collecting wine into the design of their downtown condo. “My husband has been collecting wine for 30 years,” Tammy says. “He used to have 1,000 bottles, but they were always stored away, where no one saw them.”
Instead of creating a designated wine room, the McCarls, along with the help of interior designer Randy Snell, decided to turn the collection into the focal point of their family room. “They had this large empty wall that was the perfect place to create a one-of-a-kind wine storage unit,” says Snell.
The metal racking system, from Rose Hill Wine Cellars, holds 500 bottles. Since the McCarls collect young wines, refrigeration wasn’t a major concern. The center of the wall showcases larger magnums and dessert wines, while the sides of the unit can hold up to three bottles deep—perfect for storing some of owners’ favorite vintages. “We narrowed the collection down to our favorite wines,” Tammy says. “We collect mostly heavy, bold California wines. Cabernet is a favorite, but we also have some Pinos and Zinfandels.”
To blend in with the contemporary surroundings, Snell lined the wall behind the racking system with Phillip Jeffries’ Rock Star wallcovering. At night, when the LED lights are turned on, the silver dots of the paper shimmer against the dark bottles. The perimeter is covered in ebony cork wallcovering, also from Phillip Jeffries. “There are little flakes of silver in the cork, which tie back into the iridescent look of the wall,” Snell adds.
The wine wall has become quite the conversation piece when guests visit. “People gaze at the wall, they start looking at the labels and usually come across a wine they recognize,” Tammy says. “We love how the wall ties the entire room together. It has definitely finished off the look of our home.”
Designer: Randy Snell, Archetype Design Studio; Carpenter: Aaron Bourne; Wallcovering: Phillip Jeffries; Wine rack: Rose Hill Wine Cellars
Anything but simple
The owners of this cellar used to store their collection in four wine refrigerators. “We lived in a condo in Mt. Washington and had the refrigerators in various rooms,” the homeowner recalls.
After the couple married, they purchased a home nestled on nine acres in Rosslyn Farms. During the renovation process, contractor Saverio Strati, of Avanti Construction, suggested adding a wine cellar to the basement. “I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary, just a chilled room to store my collection,” the husband says. “The end result far exceeded my expectations.”
Strati, along with interior designer Pat Kann, understood the owner’s desires and needs. “He would have been happy with a simple room, but his collection needed to be seen,” Strati says. “Pat and the owner’s wife made sure the cellar complemented the home’s exquisite contemporary aura.”
The cellar, which can hold up to 1,400 bottles, is located in a once-unexcavated portion of the basement. An external cooling system keeps the room chilled at 53 degrees. The cellar boasts redwood wine racks that hold various bottle sizes, from standard Bordeaux bottles, to magnums and splits. The diamonds allow the homeowners to purchase cases of their favorite wines if they choose. “One of our favorite wines come from Lewis Cellars,” the husband adds. “The California vineyard is owned by race car driver Randy Lewis. He doesn’t make a bad bottle, regardless of what kind you enjoy.”
The homeowners also have an impressive collection of modern art—an element that was infused into the design of the wine cellar. A fertility painting made of sand, created by an artist in Scottsdale, Arizona, hangs along the wall above the limestone countertop, while an ornately carved African chair, comprised of olive wood, rests comfortably nearby. “I love the simplicity of the space,” Kann says. “But at night, when the lights are turned on, the warmth of the room shines through the glass door, creating a wonderfully inviting addition to the adjoining family room.”
Contractor: Saverio Strati, Avanti Construction; Architecture: Lewko Korzeniwsky; Interior designer: Pat Kann, PSK Design LLC; Flooring: Tile & Design; Entry door: Rogue Valley Door, supplied by Allegheny Millwork; Hardware: Rocky Mountain, supplied by Splash; Wine rack: Redwood; Refrigeration: Danfoss, installed by Dave Rich HVAC