wine cellar below stairs

Everything to consider when building a custom wine cellar

Everything to consider when building a custom wine cellar

Wine cellars are gaining in popularity and according to Zillow, result in a significant increase in home value, with 31% of sellers getting over the asking price on their home. Building a custom wine cellar for your home has never been more accessible—or as flexible. From style, to purpose and location—absolutely anything is possible with time and money with custom construction. 


When it comes to designing and building your own custom wine cellar, there are a few things to consider to ensure you end up with the perfect build for both fashion and function.

How To Design Your Wine Cellar

wine cellar below stairs

You can have a wine cellar that tucks neatly under your stairs, a statement piece for your kitchen wall, something replicating the original 1600s European design or even a futuristic portal in the floor. Most design considerations come down to only a handful of factors:

  • Is the style of your home traditional, contemporary or otherwise?
  • Are you looking for an open, airy and eye-catching display or something more historic and hidden
  • Are you filling a space with a wine cellar, or building a space for one?
  • Is price a factor? In British Columbia, custom wine cellars tend to come with a price tag of $20,000+ once all time and materials are factored in.
  • Do you want to be able to read each label, or fit in as much wine as possible? Or a combination of both?


Much like how you would have designed your home, either yourself or alongside an interior designer or home builder, you’ll want to go back to that same drawing board. If you’re hoping to share in the design process with your wine cellar builder, it’s always great to start with looking through builder portfolios or even building a pinterest board so that your ideas can come to life.

Location considerations

Your realtor said it and, if you built your house, then your engineer probably said it too and it remains true to the success of your wine storage as well.

What made you decide you wanted this incredible space? Did you decide to build a wine cellar as a showpiece or was it for the utmost care of your tannins? Maybe it was a blend (pun fully intended). There is no wrong answer! But it does impact your next moves:


  • Temperature and lighting. If you plan to store your wine in the basement you may be able to forgo the added implementation (and expense) of a climate control system. By contrast, if you would prefer it to be a showpiece in your bright and spacious main floor you will want to consider a location (or a design implementation) where it will be free from direct sunlight
  • Entertaining your guests vs. your vintage. If you’re a frequent entertainer you may wish to consider how a basement wine cellar will divide the party if this is a space you want to use for social gatherings. If you’re collection comes first, it may be worth moving the cellar a little further away from gathering spaces to ensure perfect climate, lighting and exposure to vibrations.
  • How many bottles it will store. You can store anywhere from 2 bottles per square foot up to 8 bottles per square foot. This comes down to a matter of capacity and design. 


Wine Cellar Racking & Label Placement Matters

What happens when your wine cellar is not completely full? Depending on your design this will impact the look.


Is cost a consideration? Wine rack placement matters when it comes to storage capacity, look and even price. Wine rack systems range from $3-20/bottle. This means that a basic wine seller without any design or cooling mechanism may be only the cost of the wall and installation.


There are 6 modern rack designs


  • Column racking accommodates a showcase or “label-forward” configuration and while this takes up more space for your collection, it can be anchored to drywall, wood or concrete. This is often a more cost-effective option with the cost of $3/bottle 
  • Peg systems accommodate both label-forward and cork-forward configurations. Bottles look as though they are suspended and can increase capacity or provide a minimalist look. This option averages $13 per bottle stored if building in the Okanagan region.

Source: Vintage View (left and center) and Vintage Cellars (Right)

  • Floating displays may be common in restaurants however are increasingly seen the home. Often spanning floor to ceiling heights of 12’, and enclosed with option glass walls. These options will add an additional $3 – $5/bottle on top of the racking price
  • Freestanding wine and bookcases are an impressive sight to behold and are often designed with aesthetic top of mind. Both options elevate the price to a base of $10/bottle.

Source: Vintage View (left and center) and Vintage Cellars (Right)

  • Secure lockers are a step up from a traditional in home wine rack and their optional freestanding nature means that construction can be forgone and temperature controls optional

Source: Vintage View (left and center) and Wine Enthusiast (Right)


If you’re looking to store as much wine as possible, it may be good to have the corks face out, rather than have the labels displayed. Many larger cellars have a mix of both.

Building it right and building it to last

Wine cellars are often humid spaces – does your home have an adequate vapor barrier in the room in question? Chances are it does not. Insulation should be at minimum R-19 on the walls and R-30 on the cellar ceiling. Professional installation is only part of proper construction. 


Our Okanagan based team has been building custom wine cellars since 1997. If you’re not sure where to get started or if you are looking to build your own custom wine cellar, contact us for a free estimate. 


Request a free consultation today

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