Andy McGaan was a freshman in college when his fraternity brothers at Cornell University first introduced him to the Grateful Dead—he’s been a fan ever since, having attended about 55 concerts before the band disbanded in 1995. What inspires such devotion? “As I went to more and more shows, I realized that it was a tremendous gathering of people of all different stripes who were radically accepted,” he says. “That was very appealing.”
McGaan’s collection of framed 1960s- and ’70s-era Grateful Dead concert posters line an entire wall in the lower level of his Ravenswood home. Push a specific book in the nearby built-in bookshelves, and the door swings open to a hidden lounge that houses more of McGaan’s memorabilia. “It’s like something out of a movie,” he says.
The secret passageway was the brainchild McGann, but was brought to life by Fred Wilson, of Morgante Wilson Architects (morgantewilson.com), who collaborated with firm partners Elissa Morgante, John Potter and K. Tyler to transform what was once a playroom into a lounge-y recreation room—a place to work, relax and listen to music. “We created this cross between a Moroccan lounge and a men’s club,” Morgante says.
The designers gutted the space and touched every surface, incorporating new hardwood flooring and cladding the lounge’s domed ceiling with brick. Walnut columns with laser-cut panels house light pendants, an ingenious solution to the low ceilings and lack of natural light. They integrate precisely with the built-in shelving, which includes a desk and display boxes lined with an antique mirror.
A metal Moroccan-style flush mount pendant calls attention to the herringbone pattern on the brick ceiling in the lounge, where layered rugs play off the pattern in the custom wall-to-wall sofa’s French mattresses and lively pillows. The room’s patterned wallcovering is punctuated with pieces from McGaan’s photography collection alongside outsider art and other mementos. “It raises questions as you look around because everything is so unique,” Morgante says. “It’s about layering textures and stories.”
In the other room, a weathered bar with an Arabesque antique mirror backsplash creates a beautiful focal point, perfectly accenting the Venetian plaster ceiling. Nearby, a dartboard hangs on linen upholstery, a clever solution for errant darts. “You don’t get an opportunity to do something this out-of-the-box very often,” Morgante says. “Everything about this project was totally fun.”
While McGaan has found himself working in the space much more than he would like, he still makes time to use the space as he originally intended, holing up with a good book, sipping on a cocktail and listening to music. “I love this space,” he says. “When you close the door, you feel like you’re in a different world.”