Have you always wanted a wine cellar, but discounted the idea because you didn’t think there was ample space in your place? If so, a modern wine cellar under stairs might be your best bet. Not only is this the perfect solution for wine storage — allowing you to properly cellar and store your wine while still easily accessing it — but it’s also a great way to use otherwise dead space in your home.
Why you should consider building a wine cellar under stairs
Whether you love to visit wineries and pick up rare finds to add to your collection, or you want to store a nice reserve of plonk to be on hand for when visitors drop in, a wine cellar allows you to cultivate your own collection. And although the term ‘wine cellar’ might have you thinking of huge basement level caverns with oak barrels, modern wine cellars really do come in all shapes and sizes.
What they all have in common is that they allow you to safely store wine and improve its taste by ageing it in appropriate conditions. With the room to store bottles on their side and a few tweaks to your space, what was once an abandoned nook or coat cupboard can become the perfect DIY wine cellar under the stairs. So, how do you decide which style of wine cellar will be suitable? Let’s look at a few different options.
Choosing the right under stairs wine storage for you
So far, we’ve discussed the benefits of installing a wine cellar under stairs, but what exactly defines a modern wine cellar? Wine cellars and wine coolers are often spoken about like they’re the same thing, but the two have some key differences. While a wine cooler might look like a modern cellar, its purpose differs. Coolers are designed to store bottles for a short period while bringing your wine to the correct temperature for serving.
On the other hand, a wine cellar is designed for long term storage, allowing the safe ageing and maturation of both wine and spirits. Cellars, therefore, have to include a little bit more technology to preserve your plonk. Typically, cellars will feature controls that maintain a consistent temperature best suited to the varietals in your collection. They can also feature humidity controls to maintain a consistent, moisture-rich atmosphere that prevents corks from drying. Managing the light levels in a cellar will also avoid oxidisation, while a proper shelving design will prevent excessive vibrations.
Expert tips to consider when building a wine cellar under stairs
- How visible you want your cellar to be
First thing’s first; a wine cellar can be discreetly tucked away behind an unimposing cupboard door, or it can become the focal point of your room. When deciding on your wine cellar under stairs design, establish how much of a centrepiece you want it to be. Being clear on this will help you stay on track as you determine the other design features within the cellar. For example, an imposing cellar might live behind a simple wood door and therefore only need lighting when the door is open. A more bold design could feature an asymmetrical shelving front and may use soft, targeted lighting to give the cellar a sculptural feel within a lounge or living area. Modular wine cubes can help you achieve this effect.
- The light in your space
This is both an aesthetic and practical concern. Direct sunlight is the enemy of long term wine storage, so if you have a sun bathed north-facing stairwell, you’ll need to consider a design that blocks the harsh rays from your bottles.
On the other hand, if your under stair area is fairly low on natural light, a more open design with glass walls and cellar lighting could make the space feel bigger and brighter while keeping your vino protected.
- The wines in your collection
Traditionally, red wines were considered good candidates for cellaring, while white wines tended to have less predictable and successful stints in storage. However, with modern screw-top bottles, white and red wines can benefit from cellaring for up to a decade. Your wine cellar's exact temperature and design should reflect the bulk of your collection, so bear this in mind.
- The climate in your home
Australia has some pretty challenging conditions that European wine cellars don’t have to come up against. We've got it all, from tropical, overly humid climates to scorching summers and chilly winters. No matter where you live or the temperature in your home, consistency is vital when it comes to wine cellars. It’s better to maintain a consistent 18ºC year round — even when the sun is streaming through the windows — than try to create a 13ºC climate and end up having large fluctuations in temperature every time you open up your cellar.
- Your interior decor
Finally, consider the existing design of your home. Do you embrace traditional details and heritage wood? Or is a glass and steel structure more in line with your home? Your cellar will be somewhat visible no matter what if it’s under stairs, so make sure it compliments your home.