Seattle Home & Lifestyle Magazine


Make Room For A Wine Cellar

WRITTEN BY RANDY ALTIG
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HANK DREW

A BEAUTIFUL WINE CELLAR is all but a room away as many homeowners realize that a spare room—or even a large closet— can quickly be turned into storage for a growing wine collection. With the latest technological innovations, it’s now easy to create the proper controlled environment for storing wine. And that gives you the perfect opportunity to create a room that captures memories of your last tour of Tuscany or soirée in Sonoma. When creating a home cellar, consider its purpose, its design and how you want to use it—these are three elements I take into account before starting any design process. First, how are you going to use your cellar? Some clients want only an attractive area to store their wine inventory; others want enough space to host intimate tastings or even small dinner parties.

When you consider purpose, the classic cellar look—walls of bottles nestled in the wooden arms of custom racks—is not only visually appealing but also the best way to store wine, as it promotes healthy corks. You can purchase modular racks and install them yourself or enlist the services of a company that will design and install a custom storage solution to your specifications. I like Wine Enthusiast (wineenthusiast.com), but other companies offer these services as well.

Another consideration is temperature control. Most wines store best at temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity of 70 percent or greater. For optimum conditions, you’ll want to install a cooling unit that monitors and controls both temperature and humidity in the cellar. Another alternative is refrigerated cases, available through specialty wine stores, most high-end appliance or furniture stores and even kitchen-supply stores.

Personalize your wine cellar with items that are meaningful to you and your family. For this Kirkland cellar, Randy Altig installed a salvaged iron gate and fitted it with a custom monogram. He chose mahogany wine racks from Wine Enthusiast (wine enthusiast.com) and a Boos butcher-block table from the Butcher Block Company (butcherblockco.com).

Personalize your wine cellar with items that are meaningful to you and your family. For this Kirkland cellar, Randy Altig installed a salvaged iron gate and fitted it with a custom monogram. He chose mahogany wine racks from Wine Enthusiast (wine enthusiast.com) and a Boos butcher-block table from the Butcher Block Company (butcherblockco.com).

Once you’ve determined the basics as far as storage and room temperature control, it’s time to concentrate on creating the desired look and feel for your cellar. I like to mix several décor ideas—using tinted Venetian plaster on some walls and faux painting applications on others for the look of a Renaissance Italian tasting room, for example. You can create visual interest by using cultured stone to make a storage cave, or install tapestry wall hangings or travertine murals to complete a vintage cellar look. My favorite source for wall murals is Classic Tile Murals (classictilemurals.com), which offers a wide selection of pigmented murals on Italian marble.

Once a year I visit local wineries and vineyards to purchase old wine barrels, which I cut in half and put on cellar walls. I also turn barrel ends into wine and cheese serving trays. Installing an old iron gate with an antique lock and key ensures a whimsical feel—as well as the safety of your collection. 

So look around your home to locate the perfect spot for your wine sanctuary—a place that will accommodate the needs of your wine as well as your desire for great design. In no time you will be experiencing la dolce vita!