Secret DIY wine cellar tour-wine room design guide

Wine has always been an essential part of history. In virtually all cultures, wine played a major role in rituals, celebrations, and much more. The cultivation of grapevines to make wine is dated back to as early as 6,000 BC. It goes without saying that wine is and always will be part of our lives. At least mine -ha!

I am elated to share a very exclusive residential wine cellar that is so unique and special that it’s actually a secret. There are many reasons this room is so extraordinary, as you will soon learn.

Wine Cellar Table

I am so impressed with the quality of craftmanship and style of the wine cellar. It’s hard to believe that it was a DIY project. The wine cellar will have all wine lovers and wine collectors craving some wine time.

Hey, why plan a Thelma and Louise Napa getaway when you can just walk into your own wine oasis?

Wine Connoisseurs Home Design

JR and Shelli Irwin, our dear relatives, recently built a stunning new gorgeous home in Oregon. As serious wine connoisseurs, Shelli and JR have invariably always wanted a dream wine cellar. So when they bought the beautiful piece of property in Eugene, where the neighborhood is built around a vineyard, the house plans included a very large custom wine cellar.

JR was in charge of working with the contractors to build out the wine cellar, and Shelli worked her magic with all the decorating elements.

The goal of the ideal wine cellar was not only a quality-controlled atmosphere to protect their wine, Shelli and JR wanted to create a special place big enough to entertain friends and family.

Let’s Take A Tour Of The Custom Wine Cellar

Walking down the long hallway from the kitchen, you come to an exquisite wooden built-in bookcase. The full-width deep wooden shelves have a strong, time-tested English construction. The shelves are filled with various books and sweet decor pieces.

The Irwin’s Basement Wine Cellar

This is no ordinary bookcase. It’s actually a hidden custom door ingeniously camouflaged as a bookshelf . You would never know there was a door hidden behind a custom framed bookshelf. Hidden doors are often constructed when you need to conceal a room for privacy, hide away storage rooms, or create a little mystery and drama in your wine tasting cellar.

The Secret Bookshelf Door

As you gently pull the edge of the bookshelf, it reveals a secret door that exposes impressive steep timber steps that welcome you to a magical secret wine room. On the back of the door hangs a piece of artwork with the words “Prohibition is wrong….” a school project by Marcus when he was in middle school. He is now in college.

The Wine Cellar Door: To maintain the temperature and humidity at the correct levels, a wine storage structure must be kept airtight. The hidden heavy bookshelf cellar door was installed with a nice, tight seal.

Wine Cellar Cabinet

Inspired By 19th Century European Design

The open staircase is flanked with a custom wrought-iron railing to ensure all visitors make it down and up the stairs safely (especially after a sipping on wine down below). When you reach the bottom of the stairs, you immediately feel as if you have landed in wine heaven.

Inspired by 19th century European design, a traditionally styled wine cellar like this one is perfect for those who want to pay homage to Old World wine heritage.

Residential Wine Rooms

The only difference between traditional wine cellars of the past and today — they are being designed thoughtfully. The wood and dark tones are decorated with beautiful decor enhancements, like reclaimed wine barrels and crates in every corner. The textured walls compliment the earthy tones throughout.

The residential wine cellar boasts a large bottle capacity with one side of the large wall lined with custom wine racks for double bottle storage and additional racking to provide room for wine display. The long stone countertop is positioned between the floor to ceiling wine racks and works perfectly for serving wine and food for guests.

Reading a wine magazine in wine cellar

The Design Elements Of the Wine Room

The charming countertop has plenty of room for loads of wine glasses, serving trays and places to display special bottles of wine. The entire room gives you the impression you are sitting in an historic renovated European restaurant.

Shelli has really enjoyed designing and decorating the space so that anyone who enters the cellar will feel right at home. She is almost done decorating with an exception of two leather chairs and side table along with more artwork.

Since the room is spacious, there is plenty of room for a large rough cut dining table. Two long benches flank the table. Eight people can sit comfortably at the table with lots of elbow room. The room is large enough to seat up to 15 people or more comfortably. It’s the perfect place to celebrate any occasion.

Building the custom wine cellar


Constructing the Wine Cellar-Planning The Cellar:

The Irwin’s Wine Cellar Masterpiece

Since JR is a huge wine connoisseur, he recognized the importance of constructing the 480 square cellar with concrete walls, to ensure the new cellar would have ideal conditions for aging wine.

The ideal location for a wine cellar is downstairs, below grade. The environment in a basement cellar is cooler, dark (no natural light).

When you invest in collecting wine, it’s obviously crucial to safeguard the wine by storing it in the best atmosphere to age the wine properly.

The Important Elements of Storing Wine:

1.   A constant temperature between 45-65 degrees

2.   Humidity level between 50-70 percent

3.   Darkness

4.   Proper bottle racks

5.   Vibration free

Wine bottles lined up for storage

The Wine Storage

Since wine bottles come in a range of shapes and sizes, JR installed racks and shelving that were adjustable and fit various sizes of bottles. The wooden wine racks were designed so that the red wines could be stored on their side (so they can be turned as they age).

Wine bottles and dimensions vary based on vintage and winery. Most measure between 3 and 3.2 inches in diameter and are about 12 inches tall. That means a standard rack cubicle, which fits 16 bottles, measures about 20 inches wide and high with a depth just below 11 inches.

Wine Racks

The gorgeous design of a wine rack was an important consideration. The custom made wine racks in this wine cellar turns the wine into art.

Many wine racks from all of the different types we listed offer some style that will add something visually appealing to the space you put it in. You can find colorful wine racks, ones with a modern design, ones that provide a rustic look, and many that provide a touch of elegance.

Wine Room Floor

Concrete floors are ideal if sealed and a vapor barrier is applied. This is especially important if the wine cellar will have refrigeration installed to maintain a constant temperature and humidity level. The vapor barrier is usually applied to the warmer side of the space. Jim polished and stained the concrete floor and it is layered with lovely rustic muted patterned rugs.

The Interior Walls: Jim tiled the walls himself using a light textured cultured stone.

Wine cellar racks

Other Wine Cellar Construction Tips

In terms of the construction, when pouring the concrete, it’s critical to seal the concrete before the floor and walls are finished. Concrete is very porous that allows moisture to pass through it so it’s critical to ensure the space stays dry.

If you have the opportunity to insulate the space, do it. If you are building out room or converting an existing room, make sure to attach a vapor barrier and consider using blow-in insulation in the walls.


When considering lighting, note that ultraviolet light causes wine to age prematurely, which is why wine cellars don’t have windows. Also, avoid using fluorescent lights, which emit a significant amount of UV rays. It must be air resistant when closing therefore, hollow core interior doors will not do.

The temperature of the wine storage is crucial, so install a cooling unit with an air conditioner to keep the air dry and not humid. Too much moisture will cause mold and will make your cellar musty smelling.

If you live in a cold climate that doesn’t require an air conditioner to maintain a consistent temperature, install a dehumidifier to control the humidity levels.

The lighting in your wine cellar should be both functional and ornamental and should provide ample light for reading wine labels without exposing your wine to excessive heat and ultraviolet light.

Putting all of your cellar lighting on wall switches with dimmers will give you the flexibility to raise and lower light levels for the appropriate task. Switch timers or motion detectors are a great feature and will prevent the lights from being left on inadvertently.

How to Justify The Cost Of Building A Wine Cellar

The indulgence of collecting wine, storing wine and sipping wine is nothing new. Custom wine cellars of today are undoubtably a luxury. With that said, many people say that building a wine cellar is easy to justify. Why?

If you enjoy buying and drinking wine, there comes a time when you must consider where to appropriately store your red wine. You may not consider a wine cellar to be a cost-effective venture. 

After all, the upfront cost of having one created alone may outstrip the value that it provides to the average drinker. However, collectors will argue that having a wine cellar opens so much potential to save, or even earn, money in the long run.

Taking Care Of Your Wine Collection Investment

Think of it this way: if you love wine and want to invest in wine, it pays to have the ideal long-term storage with humidity control and ideal light exposure for the perfect aging process.

The value of each brand of wine (local or not) name grows exponentially over time through the aging process, as does its taste. Needless to say, the wine must be kept in a proper cellar and under the correct conditions.

Fundamentally, fine wine prices appreciate because they become rarer through consumption and more desirable as they improve with age; it’s this unique dynamic that drives prices higher and higher over the longer term.

I have learned this the hard way by not having the proper wine storage for several bottles of fine wines. I would do anything for a home wine cellar built with the common methods of storing wine appropriately.

Not everyone has to have an expensive custom built wine room, just a simple storage space with optimal conditions for your wine collection. A wine closet does the job just fine if you have a smaller cooling system in mind.

If you enjoy DIY projects, check out our garden design posts on hydrangeas including the vanilla strawberry hydrangeas, boxwood garden design and other interior decorating ideas like best paint colors for kitchen walls.

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