November 24, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In a spacious home in West Omaha live a pair of wine lovers.

“I open a bottle while I am cooking, and then my husband comes home and we have a glass with dinner,” says the lady of the house. “He will often have two glasses with dinner. I love to cook and pair wine with food.”

Along with a love of fermented grapes, the couple have a love of travel, and that wanderlust has led to the purchase of a lot of wine.

“We have a trip in November to Santa Monica,” the homeowner says. “We’re in Napa or somewhere that we can buy wine at least twice a year.”

They also belong to nine wine clubs, which ship the couple’s favorite drink a couple of times a year. Thus the bottles began to stack up. The homeowners bought a wine fridge, then graduated to a rack that held 400 cabernets, pinots, and Burgundies. They kept accumulating.

“Then we built this,” the homeowner says, spreading her hands in a shy “voila” gesture.

“This” refers to a basement cellar, a temperature-controlled private room with glass doors leading to a dizzying array of dark glass vessels stacked neatly on top of one another. There are no whites inside…the grigios and chardonnays fill two wine fridges in the basement kitchen.

Cellars are becoming a popular home feature, according to Nancy Pesavento, ASID, of Interiors Joan and Associates. Pesavento says there were many factors to be decided in creating this space.

“When a client wants to do a wine cellar we need to understand the extent to which they want to go. Are they collectors, or do they just want an architectural feature in their home? We need to know how it is going to be used. We have seen extensive wine cellars like this that are temperature controlled, and we have seen built-in racks for displaying just a few bottles. Some people like cellars that you can entertain in.”

“We originally wanted it kind of dungeony-looking,” the homeowner says. “We wanted it to be dark and heavy, but then Kent and Nancy convinced us otherwise.”

“I actually designed a wine cellar to be in that corner where the bar is, and (the homeowners) say we’d like to have more of a cave feel, moving it away from the bar,” says Kent Therkelsen of KRT Construction. “In the end, it is maybe like more of what you see at a winery.”

The cavernous expanse became lighter by incorporating grey stone throughout—from the fireplace to the walls and all the way around the room. Wood enclaves broke up the wall to create a warmer feeling while highlighting a non-standard-sized shuffleboard table sitting between them.

“I was trying to highlight the stone, and when I had the original drawings it looked like it was too much, so I said ‘how about some display cabinets?’” Therkelsen says.

The wood isn’t exactly cherry…or oak…

“It was a custom stain that they created for us,” the homeowner says proudly. “I wanted a hint of red, but not too much. I wanted a hint of brown, but not too much.”

The actual wood is birch, stained reddish-brownish.

The hard edges of the rocks were broken up with geometry in the form of arches lit with a series of two-inch lights.

“Most lower levels are boxes,” says Pesavento. “I think bringing in a soft element like the arch gives it an architectural element and breaks up the boxiness of it. She has a very traditional interior. By stoning those arches, it gave her the traditional elements she wanted.”

The homeowner realized the usefulness of a basement kitchen last year after restoring her main floor cooking area.

“I realized I don’t really need a stovetop, I just need an oven, a fridge, and a microwave,” the homeowner says. “And a dishwasher.”

This basement is designed for entertaining, with four high stools at the kitchen counter where people can converse while one creates culinary delights, and a comfortable seating area with a television for others.

The basement also features such furniture as a couch upholstered in a buff-shaded leather and throw pillows with eggplant-colored (some might say shiraz-hued) accents.  An overstuffed chair and a half also features this purple-red tint.

“It’s my favorite color,” the homeowner says. “I really wanted to incorporate it.”

Also bringing in a touch of claret “color” without being claret-colored is the table and stools created from wine barrel staves.

“The thing is that every wine cellar is different, I’ve never built two the same,” says Therkelsen. “They’re a one-of-a-kind thing that is really defined by size limitation, space limitation, the kind of wine people want to store. There’s a uniqueness to it.”

Visit interiorsbyjoan.com and krtconstruction.com to learn more.

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