Wine Cellars & Wine Tasting Rooms – Coming Of Age

In wine there is truth and in wine cellars there are many truths.  

Wine collecting and having the “right” bottle on hand, requires a special space of its own and more homeowners are installing wine rooms in new and existing homes.  With today’s technology, refrigeration, and modern materials, wine can be stored in almost any location.  However, this ancient beverage still requires tender loving care.

Wine Is Fussy – The Basics 

Wine “breathes” through the cork and ages in the process. Too much oxygen makes the wine bitter.  The pace of this breathing is faster at higher temperatures and slower at lower temperatures.  Fluctuations in temperature and humidity accelerate this aging process.  

Wine Storage – The Basics

Wine requires a cool, dark space with higher humidity than the average living space.  Wine does not like noise or vibrations from any source.  

It doesn’t like any temperature extremes.  45F to 65F degrees are the temperature for serving wine.  55F degrees is the ideal storing temperature for long-term storage, regardless of your wine style.  Wine storage rooms come in two types:  passive and active.

Passive Wine Cellars such as caves, basements, closets are naturally cooler and only receive indirect sunlight.  They minimize swings in temperature and damage to the wine. 

Active (Cooled) Wine Cellars are fully climate controlled and can be set to the perfect storage temperature and humidity level that ensures ideal conditions.  They are more flexible and can fit into any large, small or odd space in your home. 

Modern Design Trends

  • Glass enclosures allow you to show off your wine collection and can be built as tall or wide as you want. The choice of tempered glass used is extremely important. The insulation value should maximize the refrigeration, humidification benefits, and UV protection that is required for wine rooms that are in direct contact with sunlight. Etched or frosted glass are decorative options.
  • Integrating wine cellar design into your space for that ‘wow’ factor.  Placing wine storage in living areas, man caves or kitchens, allows you and your guests to engage with your wine collection and show off your expensive wine bottles. 
  • Label-forward, displays the label art facing out.  It creates an intimate interactive experience with the user and the bottle of wine. 
  • Metal and acrylic wine racking.  These materials are gaining popularity in contemporary wine cellar design.  They provide the same quality for storage as wood and can be much more cost effective.
  • Bridging old & new – Combining wood with metal or acrylic allows for more flexibility in project design that is less stuffy and ornate and more contemporary and inviting.

Modern Design And Construction Considerations

  • Use LED lights and UV film for glass enclosures.  
  • No vibrating wall speakers and no noisy air conditioners nearby.  Insulate your mechanical air ducts or use a ductless air conditioner. 
  • Vent equipment heat outside the storage area.
  • Storing a large number of bottles requires a reinforced wall behind. Many choose plywood backing for wall installation. 
  • Make sure you have proper wall insulation, a vapour barrier, and moisture resistant, green board walls.
  • Easy access to electricity.
  • Flooring is to be moisture resistant, consider the insulation value of the floor and materials.

Return On Your Investment (ROI)

A wine cellar is a high-end investment, and in some homes, it is a must-have upgrade.  With an average bottle price of $95.00, it pays to design your investment so that it can add value to your home.

Galileo tells us that:  “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”  Then together, sunlight and water hold the truth in wine.  Take good care of your truth.

An Interior Designer’s Mini Guide To Bar Design

A bar by any other name is still a bar.  It can be an espresso bar, a wine bar, or maybe a sports bar.  Stand-alone or as part of a kitchen. It can be dry or wet.  Which one would you prefer?

Dry Bar – No Plumbing Involved

A dry bar is simple to set up, especially where space is an issue. It can be a bar cart or a dedicated nook with a cabinet and counter (below right). Bar accessories are a definite must.

Wet Bar – H2O Required

You can modify an open-plan kitchen where the island becomes the bar (below left).  Or, you can construct one in the basement as part of your very own entertainment complex, or a spa bathroom, or bring it outside to create your own mini-resort, where you can mix a batch of frozen margaritas while you’re flipping steaks.

Anatomy Of A Bar – The Basics 

Put all your ideas on paper and just like the pros, let’s use ergonomic standards and proper measurements for optimum bar design.

  • Bar Height: 42 inches to 45 inches high. Great for sitting or standing.
  • Sitting At The Bar: 8in. deep for your knees. The more the better.
  • A special touch? Include a small hook for hanging a jacket or a purse.
  • Body Width: 24 inches per seat. 30 inches is better and feels less crowded. Stand-up or sit down, a bar stool is a great prop. Bonus points for stools that go up and down.
  • Foot Rail: 7 inches to 9 inches off the floor. A classy touch and appreciated by people with back problems.
  • Bar Top: 16 inches to 20 inches wide. Materials should be sturdy and waterproof. Add panache through colour and pattern.
  • Behind The Bar: Install a 36 inch high counter to mix cocktails, slice lemons, set bottles or install a sink. Under this counter make sure you have a waste receptacle, a microwave oven and mini fridge for snacks and ice.
  • Back Of The Bar: The highest reachable shelf should be 69 inches to 72 inches high. Above that is storage.
Bar counter with blue lit backsplash.

Other important items:

  • Back Bar Shelves: Needs to fit the tallest and widest bottles you stock.
  • Flooring: A wet bar gets messy, so a resilient floor is necessary.
  • Electrical, Light Switches And A Sound System: Party central needs power, ambience and great music.
  • Building Codes: Check them. Safety comes first.

The Extras – The Ultimate Pro Details 

  • Beer Taps: Keep in mind that flushing the system is mandatory. Too much work? Stick to bottled beer.
  • Wine Fridge: For chilling any bottled liquid beverage.
  • Ice Maker: Never run out of ice!
  • Espresso Machine: Caffeine is always required.

The Wow Factor

Here are a few tips and trends to impress:

  • Vary Your Lighting: Add style through statement sconces or titillate with LED backlighting to shelving (see below), a foot rest and bar front lip. Provide recessed general lighting overhead and add pendants to enhance your theme. Don’t forget dimmer switches for a signature mood.
  • Mix-up Your Finishes: Here’s where you can use fanciful woods, metallics and statement tiles. Think textures, patterns and colour.
  • Use Glassware and Bottles As Decor: A wine wall with fancy labels can show off your sophistication. Lots of glasses of different shapes and sizes can sparkle with strategic lighting placement.
  • Floating Shelves: Display your favourite spirits or memorabilia.
  • Television: Root for your home team in style.

And, remember no matter what age, shape, size, or planet – sitting or standing – let’s make sure your bar can accommodate everyone who wants to join in the festivities.

So use this Interior Designer’s Guide wisely and let’s make very merry fun.

All project images from Dolores Pian.  

How does an Interior Designer save you time?

If you’ve been following my video journey, you’ll recall the video called Fabric Sourcing and You outlining why it’s not as easy as you think to pick out the right fabric for your sofa. That was a LOT of fabric and wallpaper, plus there was a lot more I didn’t show you on the other side of the showroom, AND the tables you see behind me have fabric and wallpaper under them. Does sorting through that fill you with dread? Well me too!

That is if I didn’t have the training, intuition, and experience that tells me what I’m looking for. AND a professional who is a partner in my project- who knows where everything is and can point me in the right direction(s).

This means what may take you an entire day of exhausting searching, takes me an hour or so to get the main choices sorted, then another small amount of time once I get the samples delivered to pick out the best one(s).

What about kitchens? Melissa, you say, I can just visit a kitchen place and pick that out myself? Hmm, well, have you or someone else ever spent a few weekends going to a few kitchen places because they didn’t quite see what they liked, and by the end probably didn’t even KNOW what they liked?

Or maybe that friend was you on a previous project. I have the knowledge and experience (and the deep understanding of you and your family) to curate the finishes in a much short amount of time, and then present you with a couple of choices you’ll like.

Let’s talk tiles. I have a favourite place to source tiles. SS Tile and Stone in Etobicoke. That’s because it has SUCH a huge selection. Have you ever walked into a tile store and been immediately overwhelmed? What about visited multiple tile stores and been even more confused? You aren’t alone!

This is a huge reason to hire me to help you when you technically could handle choosing the finishes yourself- who wants to give up their nights and weekends to do that? You’ve worked hard to save the money to do the renovation you’re doing, why should you spend so much of your precious time sifting through mountains of choices when I can make it a fun, pleasurable experience?

All of these decisions for a kitchen could be presented to you in 30 minutes and we would have the finishes chosen. 30. Minutes. Versus nights and weekends spent selecting them yourselves- and dealing with five or more different opinions on how you should do your kitchen. Moreover, almost none of those professionals have had the proper time to get to know you, what you LOVE, and how the space would best serve you.

So, why not keep your evenings and weekends for YOU? And leave the design process to me. You’ll just get a space you love, a relaxing fun process, a project on time and on budget, and your precious time back.

This post previously appeared on Sanura Design, “How Valuable is Your Time?