An exclusive amenity pays homage to a developer’s mother

By Hollie Deese
Photos by Shocase Photography

When developer Tony Giarratana first conceptualized the wine cellar space at his luxury downtown condo building, it was sleek and modern with a standing table down the middle. And it wasn’t right at all for a room meant to honor his mother, Carmen.

Chicago-based designer Frank Ponterio had just finished the 57 Keys, a 100-year-old building in Chicago, and in one of the spaces he did a very small, private wine room. In it, Ponterio had to have someone reproduce an 18th century French table because he couldn’t find one as small as he needed.

As it happened, the person who made his table had just sold an antique table to Tony and his wife, Lisa, and thought Ponterio’s small wine space could be a solution to the Giarratanas’ design struggle. They met at a bar and started tossing around ideas, and Carmen’s Wine Cellar began to come to life.

“I literally, on a cocktail napkin, drew a sketch,” Ponterio says. “He said, ‘Great. Why don’’t you come to Nashville next week?’”

Ponterio is often immersed in luxury hospitality projects like Carmen’s Wine Cellar, which is an exclusive amenity for condominium owners at 505 Nashville. The project epitomizes Ponterio’s command of balancing timeless design with modern sensibilities to create a personal space that is refined and comfortable.

“It’s a big room, but it’s at a real human scale,” Ponterio says. “I think people miss that a lot. People build these big spaces, and we think we need to fill it with big-scale furniture. But normal-size people have to live with those things.”

Frank Ponterio

Influenced by Tuscan architecture, the warm and inviting 650-square-foot retreat features a masterful mix of materials, including salvaged wood, antique pewter-gray limestone, wrought iron and rich leather, with an impressive 21-foot-long handcrafted dining table of reclaimed wood anchoring the room.

“I had to borrow a crane and pop the window out of the eighth floor to get that 21-foot table pushed in the side,” Ponterio says. “And even though it’s one large table, you’re

Also in the Cellar are individual wine lockers enclosed behind a glass wall, and in a toast to Giarratana’s mother, Carmen’s portrait has pride of place above a Breccia Marrone honed marble fireplace. It’s one of Ponterio’s favorite pieces, along with the stained-glass windows.

“I was in Havana the summer before we started the project, and I was in a home that was designed by Tiffany,” he says. “One of the windows was done in that fashion, and I really wanted to use it.”

Ponterio grew up going to Italy, as both his parents were born there. So when he took over the Giarratanas’ wine cellar project from its original sleek design, he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“I’m really familiar with that rustic, refined relationship with the materials,” he says. “For me, to be able to mix a clean iron door with a hand-hewn beam is second nature. I also had the benefit of my first 10 years of the company working mostly on historic homes, where it wasn’t all new product. I had to go out and source this and find craftspeople who could make or reproduce things, and not just crank them out of a machine.”