Style Watch

Liquid assets

Pros share tips for creating wine cellars worthy of a serious collection

By Jaci Conry
January 23, 2011

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Solid rock

Turn the foundation into a focal point.

In this wine cellar, located in an antique Victorian home in Newton, Andrzej Bolalek of Bolalek Construction in Canton left two walls exposed to showcase the original stone foundation.

Create a unique place to perch.

The homeowner found stools made out of 1950s tractor seats on eBay.

Incorporate fun decorative elements.

“There’s a medieval theme here,” says Bolalek. “To emulate warrior shields, we hung bronze disks on the walls, and bronze sconces hold candles.” A custom bronze chandelier continues the theme.

Set the right mood.

“You don’t want to feel like you’re in a dungeon,” says Bolalek. “Atmosphere is key. Use lighting that can be dimmed, and consider acoustics.” To enhance the acoustics in this cellar, Bolalek put in a domed ceiling, which amplifies sound.

Rustic brick

Work with existing space.

“Rather than do major construction, reuse what you have,” says Rick Bernard of Benjamin Nutter Architects in Topsfield, who designed the conversion of a root cellar into wine storage in a 17th-century house in Southern New Hampshire. Most of the brick here is original to the house.

Select durable flooring.

“Floors should be waterproof and resistant to humidity,” says Bernard. He replaced the root cellar’s dirt floor with brushed concrete. Other options include slate, tile, and brick.

Use soft lighting.

You don’t want to harm the wines you’re trying to preserve, so opt for low-voltage bulbs to minimize unwanted heat.

Durable mahogany

Opt for hardwood racks.

Mahogany, maple, and walnut are all good choices, says Ed Loughran of Wellesley’s Charles River Wine Cellars, who designed this space with mahogany racks for a Colonial-style house on the North Shore. Softer woods are not hardy enough for cool, damp cellar environments.

Keep it cool.

“Optimum storage conditions are between 55 and 57 degrees, with 45 to 55 percent humidity,” Loughran says. “A mechanical climate-control system is essential.”

Plan to expand. “Make sure you have enough storage to accommodate a collection that will grow,” says Loughran. “Once they really get into collecting ... people wish they had more space.”

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