Pity the poor wet bar of today, so many times strictly utilitarian or simply an excuse to hang sports memorabilia.
But once upon a time, wet bars — Wet Bars! — roamed the Earth. Consider, as characteristic specimens, three of the bars occupying the Gunnerman estate, a secluded, little-known, 5-acre spread atop Windy Hill that’s for sale for nearly $3.2 million.
There’s the wet bar in the main dining room, one composed of stone, wood, marble, and tiers of Cognac and cocktail and wine glasses. The bar, easily large enough for multiple acts of bellying up, is faced in puffy pink panels that resemble suede ladyfingers.
Because, heaven forfend, a martini should never be too far from hand, there’s also a wet bar in the curving family dining room next door. The bar is a bijoux beauty of glass, marble and serious bibelots.
The wet bar in the entertaining cottage adjacent to the pool is more modest than its siblings in the big house, but then again, how many bars are overlooked by a Murano glass chandelier?
It’s not surprising that wet bars, icons of ’60s and ’70s entertaining, should populate the place. In its architecture and interior design, the main residence especially celebrates ’60s and ’70s style (and the potential for some big, back-in-the-day bashes).
THE HOUSE ON WINDY HILL
Address: 6601 Windy Hill Way
Listing agent: Daphine MacLean, Keller Williams Realty, Daphine@kw.com
Lot: 4.91 acres
Residences: main residence, guest cottage, entertaining cottage
Total living space: 9,556 square feet
Bathrooms (full/half): 7/3
Year built: 1959
Other: Pool, sauna, stable, corral, sweeping views
Aesthetically, the ’60s and ’70s aren’t for everyone. But Daphine MacLean, the Keller Williams agent listing the estate, believes there’s someone out there who will appreciate the retro appeal (wet bars and all).
“It’s a special property, and it’s going to take a special buyer.”
7 bedrooms, 10 baths
Famed silversmith Les Garcia built the home at the dawn of the ’60s. Scherry Harrah, one of gaming titan Bill Harrah’s six wives, later lived there with her children.
Rudolf Gunnerman, a clean fuels pioneer, and his wife Doris bought the property in the mid-1990s. Today, it’s owned by their son and daughter. A “G” for Garcia (and, serendipitously, for Gunnerman) still adorns the front gate.
The spread features a main residence, guest cottage and entertaining cottage (with 9,500 square feet of living space in all); a pool area with mosaics designed by Garcia; a garage and workshop; stables and corral; horse and walking trails; and curving garden beds defined by low stone walls.
And, let’s not forget, surround-sound views of the city.
The main house describes a rough semi-circle, with the prow of its roof pointing north, two copper lions marking the approach and a fountain with four leaping copper dolphins at the entrance.
A circular, glass-walled living room with soaring ceilings and a horde of travertine marble extends from the home, framing views of half of Reno.
“When it gets dark and the lights come up, it’s crazy beautiful,” says Peter Gunnerman. “My father always said he got his best ideas overlooking the lights of Reno. He said you have to live on a hill to have good ideas.”
And the Gunnermans know the exact elevation of their hill: 4,790 feet. That’s the figure on an old U.S. Geodetic Survey marker embedded in the marble floor of the living room.
“When my parents bought the house, it had very deep shag carpeting,” Gunnerman says (the better to hide wet bar spills). “When they removed it, they found the survey marker underneath.”
That’s not the only surprise the Gunnermans discovered when they began remaking things to their taste. False ceilings throughout the house hid tiled accents, like jeweled patches. And the hardwood floor of the main dining room concealed an old indoor pond.
Besides its wet bar, the main dining room features a buffet topped with Chinese urns, hand-painted wallpaper picturing an expanse of grape leaves, and a rectangular glass table for 10 supported by two curving iron antelope horns.
“The table really feels like something from Les Garcia’s time,” MacLean, the listing agent, says.
Patents and patents
The master bedroom suite opens off the bedroom hall beyond the main dining room. Pink taffeta curtains with swagged valances brighten the main sleeping chamber. A swath of tile once covered by a false ceiling adds texture.
The suite also includes his-and-her baths and dressing rooms. Mirrored closets line Doris Gunnerman’s former dressing room; in her bath, marble stretches from floor to ceiling (and around a soaking tub deep enough for koi).
Several of Rudolf Gunnermans patents — he had hundreds from this country and countries around the world — hang in the bedroom hall. The Gunnermans, their son says, were married for 52 years, and they observed a ritual to close the day.
“They’d have a martini and say, ‘How was your day?’ ” (So thank goodness for all the wet bars.)
Across the main residence, wood paneling and comfortable leather chairs create a cozy feeling in the library-slash-study. A glass case encloses an elaborately carved jade pagoda, and a staircase off the library descends to the spacious wine cellar.
Tiles in a nearby maid’s bathroom depict lovelies cavorting by the seashore. In the sauna and steam room area of the entertaining cottage, the tiles are decorated with images of ships in full sail.
“It gives you that nautical feel when you’re steaming away,” Peter Gunnerman says.
The entertaining cottage, which gives onto the pool area, is more casual than the main home but no less loved, Gunnerman says, and filled with memories of gatherings and parties.
The wet bar, in other words, has seen some good times.