According to a 2016 study from the Wine Institute, the average American drinks nearly three gallons of wine each year, making the U.S. the largest wine-consuming nation per capita. With stats like these there's a good chance you enjoy a glass at least on occasion, or if you're a serious wine enthusiast maybe you're even considering building your own in-home wine cellar.
If the latter sounds more like you, there are a number of important factors and best practices that you need to bear in mind when it comes to building a wine cellar in your house. Well done, it can contribute to an increase in your home's value. A poorly done job, however, can possibly have the reverse effect, so plan carefully.
Before you start stacking wine racks and building cabinets, consider these details to make your wine cellar an asset to your home.
Purpose of Your Wine Cellar
Before you charge into action with building an in-home wine cellar, you need to decide how you plan on using it. For example, will the primary purpose of your wine cellar be strictly for storage, to showcase your amazing collection or both? Do you want the cellar to also double as a space for entertaining guests? Answering these questions will help you make the more specific and tactical decisions to bring your dream wine cellar to life.
Location of Your Wine Cellar
The term cellar indicates it will be built in your basement. This makes sense as the climate and other environmental qualities of a basement make it a common and strategic location for your wine cellar. But in the grand scheme of things, you can pretty much put a wine cellar anywhere, so focus on your needs and what space can be made available in your residence, respectively.
Some wine enthusiasts choose to convert a closet or a space under the stairs into a wine cellar. When considering the location, bear in mind that the optimal temperature for a wine cellar is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, with an associated 60 percent relative humidity. Although these are the preferred temperature and humidity conditions, it's not a total deal breaker if the space varies a little from these ideal settings.
Size of Your Wine Cellar
Four primary factors come into consideration in determining the size of your wine cellar. These are:
- Available space in your home
- Amount of wine you want to store
- Other activities that will occur in space
Assuming this is your first time building out a room, be mindful not to go overboard. Consider piloting the intended space as a makeshift cellar with a small number of bottles and simulating your intended use of the space for a couple weeks.
Proper Cooling System
As mentioned previously, the ideal climate for a wine cellar is a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of about 60 percent. If you're planning for your wine cellar to be located where similar conditions already exist, you'll have an easier task of making the adustments to reach these ideal conditions. If the space is not as accommodating by default, then a proper cooling system will be critical in creating the environment optimal for storing wine.
The size and type of cooling system will largely depend on the intended size of your wine cellar. For more elaborate and larger spaces, consider talking to a professional heating and cooling expert with experience in wine cellars for recommendations on HVAC models that work best for the space. Remember that the cooling system is the heart of your wine cellar, ensuring that your wine is properly cooled, matures gracefully and retains quality and value.
You may need to consider the necessity of what is known as a vapor barrier. When properly installed, a vapor barrier prevents unnecessary and potentially damaging moisture from forming inside the walls of your wine cellar. The type of vapor barrier will depend on the insulation used within the wine cellar. If you're using common fiberglass or rigid foam insulation, you will need to wrap the walls and ceiling with a poly vapor barrier. This will ensure that the wine cellar is completely sealed. If you're using a basement location, consider special flooring options that prevent mold growth and contribute toward the ideal cool and humid environment.
Wine Cellar Door
The type of door you install is another important consideration. You absolutely must have a door that seals completely in order to effectively contain and control the climate inside the cellar.
If you intend for your wine cellar to be more than just a place for storage, you'll want to contemplate more stylized options that enhance the appearance of the space itself. If you're planning to make the wine cellar a showcase space or a place to entertain, consider wrought iron and glass doors, as they not only facilitate proper sealing of the space, but they also add a sense of elegance and style. Prefabricated wrought iron and glass doors are available and can also be custom ordered to fit your exact dimensions and desired style.
There are generally two options available when it comes to wine racks for your cellar – prefabricated wine racks or custom-made wine racks. Determining whether to purchase wine racks and cabinets "off the rack" versus having them custom made is primarily a cost consideration. If money and time are of no issue, you may as well opt for splurging on a custom wine rack kit made of your ideal materials and finishes. Otherwise, there are plenty of premade styles and price points, and you should be able to find one that works.
If this is your first time building a wine room, professional assistance is strongly recommended, especially if you plan on making structural changes and installing cooling components. There are professionals with experience in all aspects of constructing and outfitting a residential wine cellar and it may be cheaper to hire their services than dealing with repairs and renovations from a bad do-it-yourself job.
A professional contractor with experience in wine cellars can help develop a blueprint for your room, or take your vision and turn it into a reality all while being mindful of factors that go beyond just look and feel. If you live in a relatively major city, wine cellar construction and installation specialists should be a simple Google search away.
Decorating Your Wine Cellar
Although your wine cellar should be professionally constructed, furnishing and decorating is something that most people can and do undertake as a DIY project. As is the case with most interior design projects, you can truly imprint your own sense of style to the room. Some choose a more classic look, decorating the wine cellar to replicate styles from centuries ago. At the opposite end of the spectrum, others select a design that exudes a more sleek and modern feel.
When decorating your wine cellar, keep the focus on the wine itself. The decorations should be selected in a manner that visually celebrates the wine and doesn't make it a secondary element of the space.
[See: 7 Home Design Rules to Break.]
If done right, this wine cellar can become the part of your home that evokes a true sense of pride as well as contribute to the property value. Follow these best practices and you should end up with a space that is much more than just a spot to store wine.
A renovation project for each season
Homeownership comes with a never-ending list of home improvement projects, and being able to time them right can be tricky. Ultimately, the best time for a home improvement project is when you have the time. But if you’re eager to plan projects to set yourself up for success, consider which season has the right weather patterns, minimizes future maintenance issues and makes it easiest to hire professionals. Read on for the best time of year for 12 home improvement projects.Interior paint
Best time of year: Winter
The benefit of painting inside is that you have air conditioning and heating. “We paint interiors all year-round because of that climate control,” says Tina Nokes, co-owner of Five Star Painting in Loudoun County, Virginia, which is a part of Neighborly, a network of home service providers. Your biggest concern when it comes to a quality indoor paint job is humidity – so if you’re in the middle of a humid summer, it’ll take longer for a room to dry and it will dry unevenly. If you’re worried about humidity levels inside, paint your interior rooms during the winter, when the air is driest.Electrical updates
(Paul Bradbury/Getty Images)
Best time of year: Winter
Electrical work can happen just about any time of year, unless it’s during rain or a thunderstorm, for obvious safety reasons, explains Dennis Burke, owner of Mr. Electric of Southeast New Hampshire, which is also a Neighborly company. What truly makes winter a winner for electrical updates is that you’ll be avoiding the bulk of competing homeowners. Burke says late spring and early summer see a big influx of requests from clients, as well as late summer as people go on vacation. “Labor Day to Thanksgiving is also really busy,” he says.Building a deck
Building a deck
Best time of year: Winter
An outdoor project like a backyard deck seems like a natural undertaking for summer, but it’s actually just the opposite. Deck builders and contractors report that pressure-treated wood, which is best for building a deck, stabilizes best when humidity is low. Additionally, the increased sun exposure in summer can cause the surface of a deck to crack, and cloudier winter days help avoid early damage. If you live in a particularly cold climate, aim for early winter to avoid the bulk of snowfall and temperatures that are too cold for contractors to work outside.Full-room remodel
Best time of year: Winter or spring
Remodeling or updating a well-loved room in your home can happen any time of year, but it’s best to be proactive and avoid higher labor costs or jampacked contractor schedules during the summer months. HomeAdvisor reports that July is the busiest month for bathroom remodel requests, with 48 percent of homeowners indicating they’re ready to hire and start work immediately. Avoid the rush by scheduling your remodel earlier in the year.Cleaning out gutters
Cleaning out gutters
Best time of year: Early spring and fall
The gutters along your roofline collect leaves, twigs and other debris over time. When they get too full, the drains can clog and cause water to sit along the edges of the roof and get inside the house or continue to weigh down the gutters. Avoid any problems by cleaning out your gutters in the fall, when leaves are most likely to make their way in, and again in early spring so the path for water is clear before April showers roll in. If you're not comfortable on a ladder or you have a high roofline, consider hiring professional help that will take proper safety precautions.New floors
Best time of year: Spring or fall
The best time to install wood flooring is during parts of the year with the least extreme conditions. In spring and fall, you'll avoid peak humidity and dry air, both of which can cause problems like bowing and warped wood or cracking in too-dry conditions. Plus, you can open windows to ventilate the smell of wood stain or carpet adhesive, and you’re least likely to have the heat or air cranking in spring and fall.Updating a deck or fence
Updating a deck or fence
Best time of year: Spring, summer or fall
The wood on a deck may fare better in winter, but staining a deck or painting a fence often requires additional weather consideration. “Decks and fences are a little more finicky (than painting a house exterior). We need it to be even warmer, around 40 to 50 degrees,” Nokes says. A good deck staining or painting company will recommend a timeline specific to temperatures where you live to avoid an incomplete, delayed or flawed project.Exterior paint
Best time of year: Late spring, summer, early fall
New paint will freshen up the look of your exterior walls, and painting is a doable project for a decent chunk of the year. Temperatures have to stay above 35 degrees for exterior painting, so in the early days of spring and late days of fall, weather-dependent work may be delayed if temperatures drop. For this reason, Nokes keeps clients on a watch list: “If we get a warm snap, I’ll call them right away,” she says.Home addition
Best time of year: Late spring, summer, early fall
For outdoor work, it’s best to avoid the seasons that will bring inclement weather and delay the project. Plan for the project to begin after the chance of snow in your region has passed, and shoot for a completion date before the frost returns in the fall to reduce the chances of delays. But be sure to schedule all professionals well in advance. In fact, Burke says a month to two months’ advance notice is often needed for electricians to complete an estimate, plan a contract and schedule work.Roof repair and replacement
Roof repair and replacement
Best time of year: Summer, early fall
It’s a given that you don’t want people working on your roof in icy or wet conditions. As a result, the best time of year for roof repair or replacement is also when the professionals are busiest. Be sure to plan roof replacement a month or two in advance to avoid having to wait with possible leaks causing damage to the inside of your home.HVAC care
Best time of year: Early fall
Any repairs to your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system should be done as soon as you notice an issue, but if you’re planning to do routine maintenance, schedule a professional long before you’ll need to turn on the heat. That way, any potential problems that could leave you without heat are found and fixed before the first cold nights of the season. The same goes for air conditioning in the late spring and summer.New appliances
Best time of year: Fall
Consumers can expect everything from washing machines and oven ranges to refrigerators to sport discounts leading up to the holidays. Even if you’re not updating your kitchen until May (and your home can accommodate an extra oven or fridge for five months), keep an eye out for deals. Stores that sell appliances like Sears, Lowe’s and Home Depot are known to regularly offer holiday weekend deals.Read More
She is currently Executive Director of Luxury Estates with Compass in Beverly Hills, California. Her team, SFJ Group, is comprised of agents and a full-service staff ranging across experienced marketing, listing, transaction, and operation experts.