Tips for Designing Your Personal Wine Cellar or Bar

Tips for Designing Your Personal Wine Cellar or Bar

by: Carrie Oesmann, ASID, AKBD, CLIPP of MyBailiwickDesign

Whether you are a serious wine collector with a specially constructed subterranean cellar or an amateur wine drinker simply creating a wine bar in your kitchen or living room, here are a few points to consider when creating a functional plan.

The experienced wine connoisseur will most likely focus on different design elements than the novice, but paramount is temperature (a consistent 55 degrees is your best bet for a combination of whites and reds) and humidity control (70% is ideal). But first, you’ll need to ask yourself – what is the storage capacity that would fit your needs?

As a designer, my goal is to not only provide answers to these obvious questions but to create a space that is not only functional but makes a statement, too! Here are a few other points to ponder when designing your wine “cellar”.

  • You will want a rack that allows you to easily identify the bottles, labels or corks. Laying bottles on their side is the simplest route for keeping corks wet and better for accessibility and greater storage capacity. If you are a serious connoisseur you may want a rack that makes it easy to turn the wine as needed.
  • What range of bottle sizes will you be storing? A double magnum will take up more space and display differently than a standard 750 ml bottle of wine!
  • Will you be expanding your collection? If so, a flexible racking system that has the ability to add racks might be the way to go.
  • Be mindful of how much light your wine racking is getting. Definitely keep your wine out of direct sunlight, and even artificial lighting should be minimal.
  • Do you plan on including a whole room refrigeration unit? If the unit is wall mounted you may want to camouflage it without affecting its functionality.
  • Do you plan on storing both red and white – if so, you may want to consider storage with two zones or a smaller cooler unit where you can maintain a lower temperature for ready-to-drink white wines.
  • How much storage do you need? There’s a huge difference in a cellar designed for 200 bottles versus one that needs to hold 2000 – or more!
  • How much of a work surface do you need? Will you simply be uncorking a few bottles or serving from this surface, as well? Do you need an area for a laptop or notebook for cataloging your collection?
  • Does the area need different types of storage and display? Wine glasses? Openers? (Some of these openers can get pretty big – leave enough room if you your planning cabinets above your work surface.)
  • Is the space meant for storage only, or, tasting, too? (Wine cellars can get chilly – perhaps your guests might want a warmer space to linger and taste!)

Remember, your personal wine cellar or bar is as much about the experience of tasting and displaying your wine as it is about the practical elements of proper storage. So above all, it’s about the pop of the cork and the sharing of the wine with friends – so don’t forget about the ambiance, too!

My final suggestion – think out of the box! Not every wine cellar needs to be reminiscent of an Italian castle in Tuscany. Don’t be afraid to bring your own style into the design!

Kate Elfatah
Kate Elfatah