When the design/build team for a neglected 1909 bungalow in downtown Orlando, Fla., first discussed how to restore and remodel the house, they envisioned a likely buyer. A mature couple or family, probably with an older teenager still in the nest and perhaps an elderly parent to care for, the fictitious owners would have certain needhanks Mees, and passions.
Among several ideas bandied about, a pair of truly upscale features emerged to address those demands. Combining attractive form with practical function, an independently conditioned wine cellar and a residential elevator fit the bill for the conjured couple and their lifestyle, one shared with homeowners of similar age and status across the country. “Multigenerational households are increasingly common,” says Stephen Gidus, a partner with his brother Paul in PSG Construction, the remodeling company charged with the renovation. “We see families dealing with issues of aging in place, accommodating an elderly parent or bounce-back adult child, often at the same time,” a circumstance in multistory homes that increasingly calls for an elevator.
Though an ample 2,460 square feet across two levels, the original house was inadequate for an upscale, multigenerational family; it also was a mess, having been converted to makeshift offices and storage space and then eventually abandoned and allowed to deteriorate. By 2005, it was forced to move two lots away from its corner lot to make room for another house.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) formed a team to renovate the house as a showcase for the 2007 International Builders' Show. PSG, along with local designer Lucia, Kassik & Monday and the interiors firm of Robb & Stucky, set the house on a new foundation, added living space and a detached garage to the back of the lot, and revived the cottage into a three-level, 5,439-square-foot luxury home, complete with a full-height, day-lit basement housing the wine cellar and with all floors accessible by the elevator. “A basement is an anomaly in Orlando, so we wanted to use it to showcase a variety of possibilities,” says Gidus of the 1,400-square-foot below-grade space.
Of course, the design/build team upgraded the entire house; except for the restored front formal areas comprising the dining room, foyer, and an office, the rest of the house is completely remade to attract a well-heeled buyer looking for an urban oasis.
But of all the home's luxury features, from a morning kitchen serving the master suite to an outdoor room tucked into the detached garage, the brightest stars are the wine room and elevator. “These are upgrades that serve the needs and interests of an upscale buyer,” says lead designer Karen Kassik.
THE WINE CELLAR From the outset, the project team planned to incorporate wine storage into the home's new basement. The only questions were “where” and “how big.” The team eventually settled on a 10-by-13-foot space at the foot of the stairs. “People who want a wine cellar tend to stick it in a closet or dig down a few feet to create a small cavity,” Gidus says. “We wanted something larger that felt like a real cellar and created a focal point.”
Framing and finishing for a residential elevator kit is basic carpentry. The shaft is framed and sheathed, albeit with mid-span blocking for additional load capacity. One critical consideration: locate the door slightly off-center to accommodate the elevator's rail on one side to create a clear opening into the box. To accentuate the wine room's impact as the owners and their guests descended the stairs to the finished basement, the independently conditioned space is outfitted with an insulated, exterior-grade glass door flanked by side lites that allow full view of its custom racking system and 1,600-bottle capacity.
The decision to condition the space evolved from the project team's desire (and ability, in a spec remodel situation) to push the envelope. “Someone who wants or demands a conditioned wine cellar is a collector and connoisseur,” Kassik says. “We anticipated buyers who like to entertain, so even if they aren't wine experts, they'd appreciate the cellar,” and may be inspired to get even more serious about wine.
In addition to the stained and lacquered mahogany racking system, including an arched counter area for decanting and the addition of a small pub table to host tastings, the wine room features a veneer brick floor finish. “We wanted it to feel rustic, like a real cellar at a winery,” says Jessica Iaconis, a former Robb & Stucky design consultant.