A Jewel-Box Wine Room in Falls Church

The latest issue of Arlington Magazine just came in the mail, where I wrote a “Great Spaces” feature on a glorious new wine room that designer Allie Mann of Case Design made happen for John Gifford, a wine connoisseur and collector in Falls Church.

The magazine profile contains mostly John’s take on the project, but Allie was kind enough to write about it from her own designer’s perspective in this guest post.


Allie Mann

Take it away, Allie!

Basement remodeling always poses challenges, as most homeowners want the lower level to not look like a basement, but instead to feel like the rest of the house. Recently, a client was inspired by midcentury modern design—and Dwell magazine—to transform his disjointed basement into a lower-level living space with an open floor plan, media area and wine cellar, while also incorporating sophisticated wood materials.

I think this did the trick:


The project intrigued me – and I welcomed the challenges it presented.

Here’s what it looked like before:

There’s a staircase behind that closed door.

This kitchen will go away—we only want wine here.

More random walls and doors.

While my typical style is more transitional or “casual elegant,” I enjoyed the hunt for the owner’s preferred midcentury modern taste, including the exotic wood that became a focal point in three of the spaces. After researching endangered as well as sustainable woods, we agreed on using Figured Sapele behind the wine cellar racks,

on the TV wall in the media area,

and as the backdrop from the floating shelves in the new office area.

After removing many walls and doors during construction, we encountered a pretty significant structural column that could not be moved. And this column was right in the middle of the space, outside the soon-to-be wine room. To turn a negative into a positive, we created a tasting table around the column, finishing it with the same exotic wood found throughout the lower level.


From the beginning, my client had his heart set on a specific vendor for the wine storage system, Vin De Garde in Canada. We installed the special system of metal rods in his glass-enclosed wine room, which is both temperature and humidity controlled and holds about 240 bottles of his favorite wines.


The final result is just the see-through “jewel box” that he had envisioned.


  1. What a fantastic transformation! Really takes talent to envision the end result with everything working so well together. Makes me want to have a wine cellar 😉

  2. Amazing design, Allie! I especially love the lighting you installed, it highlights that gorgeous wood beautifully! Congratulations!