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Autumn Hills project: Wine cellar

Designing Your Dream Wine Cellar

Don't you just love the idea of having your very own wine cellar in your home? It's the kind of project we all dream of doing someday in our own homes. Our team has had the pleasure of designing wine cellars for clients before, but this particular project was different. The clients were genuine wine enthusiasts, and their collection deserved a space that would do it justice.

If you're a wine enthusiast, having a well-designed home wine cellar can be a beautiful addition to your living space. It allows you to properly store, age, and display your wine collection. But creating the perfect wine storage area requires careful planning and consideration of factors like size, layout, climate control, and aesthetics. In this blog, I'll guide you through the key steps of designing your own custom wine cellar and how we designed this particular one.

Wine cellar with iron doors

Determining location, Size & Layout

At first, the plan was just to add custom shelving to the designated location in the basement workout room walk-in closet. But our design team had bigger plans for these wine lovers. They suggested relocating the entrance to the wine cellar, so that it could be accessed more easily and be on display in the main lower-level bar area. The clients were thrilled with the idea, especially since they already had a great lower level with a bar and seating area.

The first decision is settling on the size of the wine cellar. As a general rule of thumb, allow for 750mL per wine bottle in terms of cubic footage. So for a 500 bottle collection, you’ll need approximately 400 cubic feet. Also consider what portions you’d like racked for everyday access versus long term storage. Map out the basic footprint and ensure it suits your space. Often cellars maximize available basement or garage space.

When designing your layout, place the racks strategically, allowing for ample walkways and accessibility. Having a logical organizational system based on wine varietals can make accessing and managing your collection easier. Make use of nooks and crannies to build in specialized storage like diamond bins for excess bottles. Have a consistent temperature throughout and avoid placing racks along external walls that could fluctuate in temperature.

Now let's talk about the most important part... the wine racks we designed. During the construction phase, we made a few changes to the original plan. We wanted to have big cubbies on the top to hold the wine crates they receive from different vineyards they belong to, but it turned out to be a bit challenging to lift those crates to the top shelves. So, we decided to use the larger cubbies for the crates on the bottom row and made a really cool herringbone pattern on the top row instead.

There are a few different ways to display the bottles in the cellar, but let me tell you about my favorite one! We created a label-out display in the middle, which is perfect for showcasing the top bottles in their collection. It's really impressive, and I'm sure their guests will love it too!

wine cellar custom shelves

Choosing Materials

Popular building materials include stonework, brick, wood, glass, metal and concrete—all of which introduce unique aesthetics. Use materials that insulate while also enduring humidity and any vibrations from racking systems. Water-resistant woods like cedar and redwood are preferred. Wire metal gridded racking maximizes storage and ventilation while solid wood racking adds a classic wine cave look. Glass-front temperature controlled units also beautifully display prized bottles.

wine cellar different shelf sizes for bottles and display

Personalizing with Style

Infuse your own style into the space with personalized design details. Use accent lighting both ambient and directional to spotlight racks or collections. Sconces, under-counter lighting and LED strips all provide aesthetic illumination. Incorporate furniture like sideboards, antique bars and custom millwork built-ins for both additional storage and serving wine. Consider how you’d like to enjoy your cellar—just for you or to entertain—and decorate it as an extension of your living space.

So, as we started working on this project, we all got super excited about it! The custom shelving we designed was so stunning that the clients decided they wanted to open up the space even more. They ended up asking for a floor-to-ceiling glass wall and a fancy iron and glass door. And let me tell you, it looks amazing! The new design gives the space a super modern and cool vibe, and now you can see the wine cellar from the bar and seating area. It's really something special!

We put a lot of effort into getting the lighting just right in our wine cellar. We went for a drop-down ceiling effect and added some dimmer lights to set the perfect mood. And, let me tell you, it turned out even better than we expected! We're so happy with how it looks.

Installing Cooling & Humidity Systems

Temperature control is paramount. At 55-60°F, you’ll create an ideal wine preservation environment. Humidity of around 70% RH prevents natural corks from drying out. Cooling systems like ductless split systems or thermoelectric units can regulate both temperature and humidity. Include vapor barriers and insulation like rigid foam boards during construction. Dehumidifiers, humidifiers, and fans can also be installed for additional climate regulation in more expansive cellars.

With proper planning and design, you can create a custom wine cellar that stores your bottles correctly while reflecting your personal tastes. Pay mind to storage conditions, layout and visual details so it functions beautifully and withstands the test of time. With your own cellar, you'll be able to properly age and serve your wine at its best for years to come. Cheers!

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