Recession-Proof Remodel: A Wine Room

February 17, 2009

Recession woes aren't keeping wine lovers away from their favorite vino. In fact, many homeowners are sipping in comfort by transforming under-used spaces, like basements, spare closets and alcoves, into wine rooms. Home wine cellars can be an affordable way to create a stylish and practical place for wine storage and entertaining-in addition to adding value to your home, according to NARI.
Americans can't seem to get enough wine. Nationally, unit sales of wine in grocery, drug and discount stores rose a robust 7.9 percent in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2008. That's more than any other product category-from fresh produce to flour to meat, according to Nielsen Co., a market research firm in New York.
Global wine consumption, on the rise in past years, is forecast to continue to grow in the coming ones, with the United States overtaking Italy as the world's biggest consumer by 2012, according to a new report by the International Wine and Spirit Record. Americans are already spending more on wine than any other nation. In 2007, the U.S. invested nearly $22 billion in wine purchases, the report by the London-based wine market research company said.
In light of these trends, NARI remodelers are making it possible for homeowners to showcase their passion for wine by building rooms dedicated to wine storage and tasting. They can help homeowners decide how much racking is needed to accommodate a growing wine collection, how to create and ensure optimal storage temperatures and humidity, and how to make the best use of available space.
A Clever Pairing 
"After years of cellaring my wine in a hall closet, a remodel offered an opportunity to showcase my collection that has grown in my 27 years in the wine industry," said Oregon homeowner Dick Aften. "It would allow me to easily locate the appropriate varieties and vintages without digging around vacuum cleaners and coats on bended knee."
To make his dream a reality, Aften turned to Nick Olsen, NARI member and owner of Olsen Homes & Renovation in Salem, Ore., to create an award-winning wine room right next to his kitchen. Olsen showed Aften that by enclosing the old hallway to the kitchen, they would only need to steal two linear feet from the dining room to create a new 7x9-foot dedicated wine space.
Olsen framed and insulated the area and installed a 3-foot-wide glass door flanked by two 2-foot floor-length windows. He specified custom cedar racks, built by Apex Custom Wine Cellars near Seattle, which could hold 800 bottles. The racking was assembled in the room, and to get the necessary volume, Olsen ensured the three main sections fit snugly. The new wine room now allows three adults to examine selections and choose a bottle suitable for dinner.
A Basement Wine Cellar 
Andy Ault, CLC, owner of Little River Carpentry in Laurel, Md., recently built a high-end wine cellar in an unfinished basement where adults would eagerly entertain. 
"We incorporated unique materials to make it look and feel like you were someplace exciting, and not just in a basement," Ault said.
The goal was to create a stable climate that would protect investment-grade wines for years to come and also design a small area for sitting and tasting. Ault's building expertise helped the homeowner make the most of the available area. He recommended that custom storage racks frame the room. He worked around an existing steel drop beam by masking it with attractive wood beams. Luxurious details also elevated the space. On the floor, Ault recommended installing 200-year-old English White Oak wood floors made from reclaimed Guinness beer barrels. A gleaming copper sink provided a spot to rinse wine glasses, and energy-efficient LED lighting gave the room a cheerful glow. He also wired in a sound system for music.
"The client is thrilled with the results," Ault said. "The storage capacity allows for current inventory and future growth. The room design uses the newest materials and techniques to ensure the wine's integrity. The look, layout and integrated media system transport you to another place while enjoying your favorite beverage."

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