Great Spaces: A Secret Bourbon Room
The clients wanted their own private speakeasy. This design lifted their spirits.
Call it “whiskey” business. The homebuyers loved the location and layout of this Arlington spec home by Commonwealth Restorations, but they had one very specific request: They wanted a dedicated space to house their extensive bourbon collection.
Josh Newfield, managing partner of the homebuilder, has accommodated loads of customization requests from clients, but this dramatic hideaway, tucked behind a traditional bar in the finished basement, was a first for his team.
“You have a whole wall that’s lit up with bourbon and this herringbone brick floor,” Newfield says. “When you open this hidden door, it’s like: ‘Holy cow!’ It just feels like you’re stepping back in time into a speakeasy.”
A key-coded Murphy door unlocks the 170-square-foot barroom, revealing bourbon bottles displayed like works of art. Light gray walls provide a backdrop behind custom-built oak shelves stained to accentuate the whiskey. Newfield’s team measured the couple’s stash in advance to ensure the built-ins had enough height for the tallest bottles, and enough depth for the stoutest. Lighting set on dimmers illuminates the bottles, showcasing their colorful labels and amber contents, and gives the space a soft glow.
Commonwealth collaborated with the owners on the design to achieve a Prohibition-era feel. To create the rustic ceiling, for example, the builder deconstructed oak barrels from the couple’s collection, weaving the wood staves into an intricate pattern. The reclaimed wood also gives the bourbon room “a really nice, charred scent,” Newfield says.
Twin glass-front cabinets with oak countertops provide storage for drinking glasses and other bar essentials. The owners furnished the center of the space with their own barrel-legged high-top table and a trio of bar stools, providing a perfect perch for intimate gatherings and tastings.