Many wine enthusiasts fantasize about having a chic wine cellar complete with racks filled with vintage wine, a dimly lit tasting room and a place to store sparkling crystal stemware and marble chillers.
If you love wine, try using these ideas from interior designers about unique ways to display it and entertain with panache.
Wine refrigerators are ubiquitous in upscale kitchens, but Robert Tretsch, an interior designer with Harrison Design in Atlanta, wanted something a little more dramatic in the condo he was decorating at the Residences at the Mandarin Oriental in Atlanta.
“Even though this is a large condo that takes up the entire floor, a defined wine room just takes up too much space,” says Tretsch. “We decided to create a display wall of wine with each bottle on its side with the label out, floating in front of a wall of Carrara marble. So, when guests are in the dining room, one end is this entire wall of wine and the other is a dramatic view of the trees from the 54th floor.”
A floor-to-ceiling rack and cooling system holds 612 bottles of wine and creates a wine wall to show off prized wine.Wine Cellar Innovations designed the floor-to-ceiling racks and cooling system that holds 612 bottles of wine. The glass doors and transoms hide LED lights to spotlight the bottles. Tretsch says special bottles are placed waist-high so they can be viewed more easily.
Marika Meyer, owner of Marika Meyer Interiors in Washington, D.C., built similar walls for wine storage in a dining room for her clients.
“They love to collect and serve wine, so every bottle has a story and sentiment attached to it,” says Meyer. “It was pretty simple to build-in the sideways storage racks and LED lighting, which provides both good optics and good storage.”
If you entertain often and have the extra space, Heather Scott, owner of Heather Scott Home & Design in Austin, Texas, suggests using multipurpose rooms or rethinking how you use your rooms as a wine room.
“For one client, we transformed a formal living room into a wine room,” says Scott. “The room is opposite the formal dining room so it made for a nice flow into the dining area for entertaining.”
Smaller rooms can also be transformed into luxurious wine dens. Meyer painted and updated a tiny three-foot wide niche that was originally a tiny dark office in an older home in Washington, D.C.
“You can take advantage of these small little spaces and convert them into an area to store and display your wine or other liquor with a couple of shelves,” says Meyer.
Homes with a bar niche can be decorated for a modern vibe with shiny wallpaper, gallery lights and unusual decorative details, such as glass shelves, a mirror and a gold pineapple sculpture, suggests Scott.
Some people prefer their wine and liquor to be hidden unless they are entertaining, particularly if they have children or teens in the house.
“It’s always a part of the conversation when you’re talking about creating a bar, because a lot of people want a cabinet that can be locked at some point,” says Meyer.
Meyer built a bar in a hallway in one home behind a lockable concealed door.
“Some homeowners with limited space design a bar into their kitchen or butler’s pantry so it looks like a wall of unified cabinetry,” Tretsch says. “Then you slide it or push it back to reveal a wet bar when you’re having company. You can also tuck something like this into a side room or part of a pantry off the dining room.”
One caveat to using a butler’s pantry for a bar, as many people do, is that it can become a chokepoint when entertaining, and traffic flow needs special attention.
“It’s great to use a butler’s pantry for storage, but then you should think about where to set up a bar to make it easier for people to move around and mingle when you have a party,” says Meyer. “A great tray can turn anything into a bar as long as it fits glasses and bottles.”
Creative Wine Storage for Smaller Homes
If you don’t have an extra room, cabinets or a butler’s pantry, you can incorporate a movable bar cart into your kitchen, family room or dining area. Even a bar cart offers an opportunity for creativity in how you use it.
“In one Design House, we wanted the dining room to be both elegant and family-friendly, so we used the bar cart to display traditional glasses and liquor on top and put supplies for kids on the bottom so they could reach their own plates and napkins and cups,” says Meyer.
An old secretary painted with a faux finish is set up as a bar on top with niches and drawers for storing coasters, cocktail napkins, candles and table linens.Another option, Scott suggests, is a small console with wine bottles on top, closed shelves below and floating shelves above for additional display space.
“We took an old secretary from our house and painted it with a faux finish so it would look nice in our dining room,” says Meyer. “It’s set up as a bar on top and then the niches and drawers are great for storing coasters, cocktail napkins, candles and table linens.”
If you have enough closet space, Tretsch suggests replacing your linen closet doors with glass doors to convert that space into a bar with your glasses and liquor.
“Stairs are also great spaces to store wine underneath,” says Tretsch. “In one place with a curving staircase we built glass cabinets all along the wall to store wine bottles.”
If you plan to keep your wine for the long-term, you need to provide a climate controlled space. Numerous companies offer small wine units that can be incorporated into existing spaces and even have a built-in look when covered with wood doors.
Think creatively as you build your new home or begin to furnish it and you’re likely to find an unexpected place you can convert to your personal wine shrine.
Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades.