Over the course of two-plus years, we at Teakwood Builders were privileged to be involved in a challenging and rewarding whole-home remodel and expansion, working with hands-on clients who had a singular vision for their historic Saratoga Springs, N.Y., homestead and horse farm.

Part of the project included the design and construction of a superlative subterranean space. The expansive basement—a feat of engineering, from the modernized foundations supporting two newly joined antique structures to a 1790s home and an 1800s repurposed barn addition—was created to accommodate an array of resort-styled amenities.

As avid travelers and dynamic entrepreneurs with a penchant for entertaining, the homeowners wanted a luxurious and lively recreational zone for all ages and interests. Extended family and out-of-town business associates are now hosted in comfort and style at this self-contained bucolic retreat.

Working closely with the homeowners, our design team and master craftspeople created a veritable bunker of wonders: a wine and whiskey room; a billiards lounge; a spa with sauna and jetted tub; a home theatre; and a golf simulator. But the radiant highlight? A formal speakeasy with ample seating and sophisticated jazz bar vibe.

The objective with this space was to devise a swanky New Orleans-styled setting to impress, inspired by one of the homeowners’ favorite places to visit. It’s fashionable and exclusive while still connected to the basement’s less formal fun spaces.

Given the absence of windows and natural light, the basement—and especially the bar room—risked feeling, well, like a basement, eschewed and detached from the rest of the home. And the design solutions intended to solve for this challenge created their own quandaries.

How can we combine a striking mix of materials and finishes in a way that would uplift but not overwhelm the space? And how could we balance the loftiness of 12-foot ceilings—designed to accommodate the adjacent golf simulation space—with the desire for a more intimate and scaled-down setting at the formal bar?

Glass, woods, metals, leather and textiles—coupled with manufactured cabinets alongside site-built millwork, casework, and coffer-like ceiling ornamentation—all had to be thoughtfully crafted and combined to achieve an alluring space for socializing.

By raising the bar floor and dropping the ceiling, a greater sense of intimacy was created. Bar revelers can overlook the adjacent golf simulator from this slightly raised elevation and through special steel-framed tempered glass windows that retract discreetly into a wall pocket beside the banquette.

We resolved the elevation change between rooms with a step-down transition. This transition is framed by custom-fabricated steel doors bearing the thoroughbred farm’s horse-head logo.

We amped up the visual interest within the bar with a thoughtfully designed and site-built ceiling, whose coffer-like ornamentation resembles a geometric sunburst. Enhanced by the professional lighting design, this crowning detail provides much architectural depth.

A substantial and sinuous pewter-topped bar with room for seven people serves as the unique centerpiece. It fronts an expanse of warmly lit floating glass and wood shelves. A banquette backed by a cushioned wall of vibrant tartan creates a clubby niche for additional seating.

An array of bespoke finishes, fixtures and patterns creates an intriguing interior palette. Our designer worked her creative chops and professional sources to acquire a variety of unusual material samples for the homeowners’ consideration before landing on the final sophisticated mix.

It includes lacquered black woven and faux crocodile leather textured wallcoverings; maraschino-red leather at the banquette; brushed pewter bar-top; plaid-patterned mosaic marble floor tile; and silvered, antiqued, mirrored and polished black subway wall tile.

Professional lighting design and decorative lighting touches helped ensure a truly luminous space. The polished metal fixture above the bar serves double duty as both stemware rack and up light chandelier with LEDs concealed in its channels.

Undercounter lighting at the bar top, integrated lighting at the shelving, and lighting at the banquette seat all set the sumptuous area subtly aglow while a stunning globe pendant and cordless bar-top fixtures add decorative flair.

Storage for the bar area was carefully considered so as not to detract from the stylishness of the space. Concealed shelving is cleverly hidden behind tall-paneled picture-framed doors with black metallic woven wall-covering inserts and touch latches, integrating seamlessly with the sleek décor.

Innovative design elements, cutting-edge engineering, a masterful mix of materials and finishes, state-of-the-art lighting, and custom built-ins, cabinetry and millwork combine to create an elevated entertainment space that is anything but basement.

And while not initially an objective, one significant outcome of this project is that guests now congregate in areas like the basement bar instead of milling around the main floor kitchen. QR

Jim Sasko founded Teakwood Builders in 1996 as a young carpenter after experiencing the efficient but uninspiring process of production building and the excitement of more creative, free-for-all custom work. He oversees all aspects of the company including operations, business development, sales, project planning and design.

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