What You Need to Know Before Building a Wine Cellar in Your Home
Before you start building wine racks, keep these important details in mind.
For a wine cellar to add value to your home, keep in mind the ideal conditions for storing wine.(Getty Images)
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.