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Designer Traci Zeller's Attic Wine 'Cellar' in Charlotte

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In Why This Works, decorator and former shelter-magazine editor Alexa Stevenson looks point-blank at professionally decorated rooms and breaks down the elements that make it work. Have a suggestion for someone whose work should be showcased? Do let us know.

When her husband mentioned he wanted a true-to-goodness wine cellar—the crawl space just wasn't going to cut it—Traci Zeller, a Charlotte-based interior designer, transformed their attic into a sophisticated hangout room that could also store their bottles. "The room is very large, but the ceiling is sloped and there isn't a lot of usable for walking space," says Zeller, who's known for her comfortable and classic interiors. "I needed to utilize the space to make sure we had plenty of storage and seating."

1. Built-in cabinetry is essential to maximizing a space with the sharply sloped ceilings. "Typically, homeowners view it as wasted space, but by putting cabinetry where you wouldn't be able to walk anyway and we created storage capacity for up to 800 bottles of wine. Would you believe that this is the bonus room over a garage?"
2. The center table is taller than an average coffee table, but it's still shorter than a dining table. "The extra height makes it more suited to serving wine and food, but it's still low enough that it takes up less space and works as a coffee table with regular seating," Zeller says.
3. "Just because a piece of furniture is in front of the window doesn't mean that it can't serve double duty," says Zeller. This serving piece hides a motorized pop-up TV—a cordless cellular blackout shade is hiding behind the Roman shade.
4. Schumacher's Chiang Mai Dragon pattern on the shade draws your eye to the window, which makes the space feel more expansive, but it's also clear that the wine cabinets are the room's focal point. "The pattern on the rug is subtle, but it keeps your eye moving," explains Zeller. "Too much pattern could have been overwhelming in this space, but we needed enough pattern to keep it interesting."
5. The dark wall color keeps distracts from the slope of the ceilings, "except at the soft white trim of the wine cabinets, which is where a visitor's attention should go!" Zeller says. "Although we did use recessed lighting, the built-in speakers are painted the same color as the walls so you don't focus on them."

· Traci Zeller Designs [official site]
· All Why This Works columns [Curbed National]