October 2, 2020
After redesigning most of the main house in 2018, Chicago-based designer Rebekah Zaveloff was brought back to this family home to reimagine the unfinished basement as a redefined man cave. In this second phase, Zaveloff was mostly given free rein with her vision to create a wine cellar, media room and bar.
“I wanted to make this space more of a sophisticated pub and less like a kitschy TV show,” said Zaveloff, who is the co-founder and principal designer of KitchenLab Interiors.
Creating a Grown-Up Man Cave
Zaveloff has a background in the restaurant industry and conceived a design for the space that would feel reminiscent of an English gastropub. She took cues from local Chicago staples like the upscale Gilt Bar and Bavette’s steakhouse – both of which feature dimly-lit, lavish settings with dark wood and brick elements. Since the homeowner enjoys baseball and football, she also layered in the idea of a vintage sports club.
“My goal was to do it as if we were designing the coolest lounge, bar and media room of a hotel,” said Zaveloff, who used a combination of AutoCAD, Pinterest and DesignFiles to complete this project. “So many of these spaces I see are sterile and have no real personality or vibe to them and no thought given to how the space feels.”
The designer had a completely unfinished basement to turn into her masculine, sophisticated vision of a man cave. The team dug out the basement to get more headroom, but many of the walls needed to stay in their original locations. What was a hallway became the home of a long and skinny pub banquette, and a smaller bar than originally conceived was slated for the end of the room.
“It’s a lot harder to move and rearrange space when you’re dealing with mechanicals for the whole house and concrete and masonry walls, but we made it work,” said Zaveloff, who added that they also installed foam ceiling tile throughout the basement to provide sound insulation.
The lavish lighting she wanted to include was a particular challenge – even with the extra ceiling height – but she found flush-mounted, chandelier-style fixtures that fit both her upscale, lounge design and the ceiling height.
A Pub-Inspired Palette
For the materials in this space, Zaveloff wanted everything to be warm, masculine and have an authentic feel. She lined the floor in dark, wood-look porcelain tile, and the ceilings and floors are covered with walnut millwork. There is a brick accent wall behind the bar, which is topped with marble countertops and is painted blue underneath. Ivory subway tile backs the display wall featuring the homeowners’ liquor collection; glass-fronted cabinets with antique-look, diamond-patterned inserts contain the drinkware.
“I was going for a cross between Scottish manor house and British pub, with a little bit of preppy thrown in,” said the designer, explaining that she used leather-tufted furniture to add warmth to the space, with the fun addition of blue, plaid wool on the back of two armchairs.
For the ultimate bar experience, the wine cellar was built to hold up to 576 bottles. Contained behind large glass doors, the wine storage features the same stained walnut wood as the bar and features interior lighting to show off the stock of wine to potential guests.
“That feeling of being crammed into a full bar with lots of noise and people is something we all probably miss in this new reality,” said Zaveloff, who added that her firm is seeing in uptick in requests for home lounges and bars. “The last three prospective clients we’ve met have all mentioned this!”
Designer: Rebekah Zaveloff
Photographer: Michael Alan Kaskel
Banquette Chairs: Chairish
Banquette Leather and Lounge Chair Fabric: Fishman’s Fabrics
Cabinetry: Greenfield Cabinetry
Countertops: The Stone Shop
Leather chairs: Restoration Hardware
Sconces: Circa Lighting