Elsie’s Wine Cellar Tour

When I first saw our house’s listing online, I became obsessed with it and looked at the photos constantly. Have you ever fallen in love with a house listing online? OF COURSE YOU HAVE. This is normal behavior.

Anyway, the one space it described in the listing, but did now show, was the wine cellar. It said it had space for 600 bottles of wine. That’s a lot of wine. I thought it was strange that they didn’t include a photo of it. Then (months later) we went to look at the home in person and it all made sense.

This is how the wine cellar looked on the day we closed on the house. The walls were plywood. I knew it had potential, but it needed some work to bring it up to speed with the rest of the house.

I wanted to make it look nice ASAP. When you first buy a house, I think it’s good to choose a few easier spaces to do early on, just as an encouragement and a mood booster. This project was time consuming, but it was simple and relatively easy to accomplish!

By the way, before deciding to tile, we tried a bunch of other solutions that would have been quicker and easier. We tried removable wallpaper, stick on tile, DIY skim coating, and painting. They all looked BAD.

After that, I started to research tile and learned that by using a different type of thin set it’s OK to tile directly onto plywood. Wooo!

Look how pretty it came out! This was definitely a low-waste renovation. We added the tile and added a cabinet with some storage drawers and a butcher block counter.

We were able to paint and reuse the shelves that the room came with and we used most of the wine racks, although we did remove a few to make room for the counter.

Adding these two cabinets with drawers and a counter was the best choice for us. We’ve got a lot of extra storage here, which I am planning to store all our party stuff and serving pieces in there. This is the hardware I picked.

We also added a single shelf for liquor. We used some gold brackets from Etsy. I’ve always thought the single shelf is so pretty. If we ever expand our collection I could add another one, but for right now this feels like the perfect amount for us.

I like to keep liquors to be able to mix a quick cocktail, but I don’t consider it a collection like I used to where I will add way more. I will probably just replace these as we go.

On the white shelves I put my glassware collection, my beloved ceramic tequila cups, my bitters, and my new teacup collection (2020 brought out my inner grandma).

Wine is a lot of fun to collect, but I feel like it will take semi-forever to get these shelves feeling really “full.” Should I even aim for that, or should I just embrace the sparse vibe? You tell me how you would do it! I’m curious!

Here are the cabinets so you can get a good look.

Here’s a little photo of my liquor collection. I filled it up for my birthday this year. 🙂 I love making cocktails at home!

And here are my non-alcoholic spirits. I shared these on IG lately and got a lot of questions. The whiskey alternative is nice for sipping by itself. It has a similar color and scent to whiskey and a beautiful bottle.

The taste itself is not really like whiskey, it’s more like a cousin to whiskey. It’s got a bit of of a spicy kick though and a nice flavor.

I also like Seedlip spirits for mixed drinks. The citrus and spice flavors are definitely my favorite. I mix them with cranberry juice often as a nice little mocktail. If you have a home bar, I 100% recommend these as bar staples because when you have a friend who doesn’t drink you can still mix them something fun.

Thanks so much for coming along on my tour! Now, who wants a drink? Cheers! Elsie

P.S. You can see my other room tours here.

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Project Assistant: Collin DuPree. Photography: Amber Kelly. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • My BIL got thousands of bottles of wine from a winery that was closing down for so so cheap! Excellent way to fill up a cellar if you can find a winery that needs some help! 😉

  • I would buy a bulk order of Topo Chico and fill up a whole section… and NEVER run out! Now that’s living the dream, haha!

  • It looks fabulous! The tile looks clean and cool, and makes an excellent backdrop for the rich bottles.

    What about storing some bottles of San Pellegrino or Perrier? I don’t always drink alcohol at social occasions, and it makes me feel so special and included when the host brings out a fancy bottle of sparkling water. A few bottles of sparkling cranberry juice or grapefruit juice would also be fun for the younger party-goers.

    Congrats on your new space!

  • Woah! That’s so cool that your house has a wine cellar! And I love that you have fun mocktail supplies on hand (in cool bottles too!).

  • Maybe this has already been said but there are amazing wines available for under $20 a bottle and working with a good wine seller can really help you decide what to get. A good friend is a true collector and I used to help track his inventory of about 1200 bottles and learned so much, He had some very pricey bottles for special occasions but really loved to buy young $12-$20 bottles from up and coming vintners and stash them in the cellar for a few years to let them mature and watch the prices go up. It was a bit like playing the stock market and he always won.

  • I would use the space to stock up on cases of wine that are very budget friendly but good, that way you always have wine you don’t have to think twice about opening when you have parties (when we an do that again). I like to save our “good” wine for smaller dinner gatherings but when it comes to big parties we go with cases of less expensive stuff that won’t irritate us if it’s gone by the end of the party.

  • Looks great! I just have a question though, weren’t the walls before orientated strand board (OSB) not plywood? I know there’s different methods for different boards and didn’t know you could tile on OSB?

  • Is the opening too small to hold cans? Of say…La Croix? If not, you could store and arrange any backstock cans by flavor! Or maybe bottles of sparkling water, coffee syrups, etc?

  • I am in LOVE with your wine cellar! If you are going to collect, I would just say to do some research first. Most wines are not made to be stored more than 10 years, depending on varietal. For example, whites only have a shelf life of 1-3 years. Reds last a bit longer, up to 10-20, but it still seems like it would be hard to maintain a collections of hundreds of bottles without some going bad. The Parent Trap definitely made it seem like you can store wine for 100 years and drink it 🙁 but definitely worth talking to some wine experts before investing. If you make it out to Napa I’m happy to show you some options 😉

  • There are so many delicious non alcoholic beverages,0 especially having small children, maybe designate a section to bottles of sparkling ciders and lemonade, and unique flavors of juices. How fun to be able to go in together and get something special to drink? Also, our kids love drinking out of fancy glasses on holidays and parties, so maybe the lower shelves could house some special glasses just for them, we bought some antique silver (non breakable) sets for our girls to enjoy, fancy and durable!

  • Looks beautiful! And I also love Seedlip, we bought it ahead of Dry January because Emma mentioned it on the podcast MONTHS ago. Thanks Emma! Now I am curious to try other non-alcoholic cocktails. I just bought a bottle of Kin Dream Light, and maybe I’ll try Ritual next. I don’t really miss the alcohol much yet, but we knew from doing Dry January last year that we would miss mixing up fun cocktails and just drinking water and this has made it much more fun. A mocktails post from you guys would be fun this month or another January, or really anytime.

  • You could make a pixel art heart with the wine bottles (so you never have to fill up the whole rack). Do you like rosé?

  • Hi Elsie! Love the end result! Curious to learn more about your trial and error process— I’m planning DIY for a similar plywood wall room situation (mine is a mudroom), and I’m wondering if you can share more about why the other things you tried *didn’t* work… Did the removeable wallpaper look bad because it just peeled off? Do you think traditional wallpaper would be an option?

    • Hi! Removable Stick on wallpaper and tile didn’t stay on- we tried a bunch of kinds and they just did not stick. XX!

  • Unless you really know about wine I wouldn’t attempt to fill it. Not all wine keeps well so you could end up with a lot of bad tasting wine – which would have been better enjoyed when it was young.

  • I don’t think you need to fill it at all, but it could be fun to keep bottles that were special and add a tag around it’s neck saying what was being celebrated. Then you can add these empty bottles back in the rack for a more filled up feel without having to have tons of wine on hand.

  • looks amazing! when my parents moved to napa we had all these wine racks and no wine haha. we filled them with empty bottles after parties we had and would have our friends and family sign the bottle or we would mark the cork with a memory or date of the night. Rather than storing expensive bottles of wine for the future we stored memories of events and parties we had and enjoyed. We still love it 12 years later and so fun to look back on! Obviously, this would be a post-covid idea 🙂

  • What a beautiful space!

    I second the mini fridge idea.

    Bittercube Bitters (https://bittercube.com/) are also amazing if you are looking to expand your bitters horizons.

  • A friend witha proper wine cellar saves his empty bottles, rinses them, corks them, uses a knife to cut the cork flush with the bottle & uses them to fill in the empty spaces. Looks fabulous & there is no confusion with full bottles that way. You did a marvelous job with yours.

  • I would buy a nice bottle of wine whenever you go to a place that is worth remembering. You could then print out a little label and write on to it where ans when you got it. So whenever you take one in the future, you can then remeber that certain day. ?

  • I built a 280 bottle wine storage. Never filled it. I typically buy 4 bottles of a particular wine. Store them, drink them, leave two, buy more of a new wine. Now, my wife and I are retired and we have 120 bottles in the racks. If you are a serious vinophile, then fill it up. I was not serious enough, but i enjoy drinking. My favorite is french wine from st juliene or st emilion. My favorite restaurant in las vegas knew i knew my french wine because i drank all their 1984, which was just as good as 1983, but much cheaper.

    I learned i was not a wine investor.

    Just enjoy the wine and have fun.

  • Fill the racks with homemade spirits! I’ve learned how to make limoncello and herb liqueurs last year; filling my empty wine bottles with homemade liquours. And of course sparkling water would be pretty in there as well!

  • Curious if you got rid of your rainbow glassware collection? It was so pretty, but also totally understand if you did!

    • Hi Liz! I still have it but it’s still in boxes and I’m planning to use it in our dining room or breakfast room. XX

  • I didn’t mind the plywood at first, but my god, I had no idea tiles could make a windowless room look so good! Noted!

  • Respect for the Fernet Branca.

    Great looking space. I’ll probably steal this concept when I buy a new house. Thanks.

  • I think, unless you’re super into wine, don’t stress about adding to the collection more than you normally would. This can be the challenge with moving to a bigger space- sometimes we feel pressure to fill that space.

    It’s a cool graphic look, I think you could have fun with that. Maybe arranging the bottles in a pattern… or it reminds me of cross-stitching somehow..maybe part of the shelving becomes a big fiber art piece. What a fun space to get to play with!

    • I like this response! A design sounds like fun. And it’s so true not to rush to fill the space. Filling it with wine that will still be good to drink by the time one got through all those bottles would cost a small fortune. And the desire to refill the empty spaces could turn one a bit OCD. Been there done that! One would have to know which affordable wines are a.) Currently drinkable and b.) Will get better in the coming years…..and even those can turn at five or seven years…. wine can get wasted if a lot of is is bought only to fill a space.

      More advice: We found no true value in joining a wine club, we disn’t get to make all of our own selections, and some of it isn’t good (it’s old stock that has turned). Didn’t always know when the wines would ship, either, so overall not very convenient.
      We’ll repeatedly buy cases of wines we like at Costco, and go to Total Wine for special occasions. There really is a law of diminishing returns, though. A $100 bottle of bordeaux is usually worth it, but a $60-70 might be similar enough…..and to an inexperienced palate anything over $10-15 might be wasted money. Be warned, though, you will grow to the size of your fishbowl! The more wine you drink, the more you’ll discover what you like, and every time you up the ante on quality, you’ll find it difficult to go back to certain cheap wines.

      Last note of advice: Ne er hesitate to take a bottle of bad wine back to the store for a refund. A small percentage of bottles just turn bad, and stores know this.

      • Is the cellar temperature controlled?
        Otherwise it’s just a room with wine in it. If your temperature gets too high for extended periods you’re just ruining good wine. If it’s just for looks as some here suggest (why????) I guess that’s neat.

  • Maybe you could put your empty wine bottles back in the shelving as you drink them, in a designated area so you know which is which. That way you’d get the full cellar look. You could even get empties from other people if it looked convincing,

  • The room looks awesome!
    You could always join a wine club to fill in some of the space. What kind of wine do you like?

    • Hi! Yes I do the wine club!

      Honestly- my favorite wines are all chilled reds and rosé, but I like drinking red wine when we have guests or family for special occasions. Or, you know, someday when parties are a thing again!

  • This is lovely!!! I have been looking forward to this reveal since you mentioned on the podcast a few months ago that you were working on this room. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • One of my favorite drinks is fernet + coke! I also like fernet all alone in a teeny glass (like oldschool restaurant vibes!) I have never used it to make a fancy cocktail. What are your faves?

      • Definitelty Fernet + coke! I don’t know of any other with Fernet…that was why I was askink you ?

      • You can add my name on your who loves house tour’ list 🙂 Im in love with. Also I really liked all of this, especially the gold brackets are looks so elegant.

    • Fernet by itself after dinner is best! I actually really prefer the Branca Menta with the strong mint taste. Makes you feel so clean after a big meal! Haha

  • “ Have you ever fallen in love with a house listing online? OF COURSE YOU HAVE. This is normal behavior.”
    ? I appreciate knowing I’m not alone in my online habits. My behavior is normal, okay?!

  • Looks beautiful. But I always wonder, with open shelving like that, doesn’t it get dusty real quick? How often does this require cleaning?

    • It’s a cellar, in my opinion a little bit of dust is not a problem here. But I would put the drinkware upside down though.

    • Could you fill the sparse spaces with empty wine bottles? Lol … you could add a memory on the label of each of them as they’re emptied to make it more intentional and replace them with full bottles over time as no doubt now you have a wine cellar that wine will be a go to gift idea.

  • I love what you did here! I’m excited to try the nonalcoholic whiskey, too. I love the way whiskey smells but I can’t get it down.

    I absolutely fall in love with house listings on a regular basis. I especially love the virtual home tours where you can walk around the house and see how rooms are connected. I like to think about what it would be like to live in different houses.

    In terms of filling the shelves, I would think of it as leaving room for the unexpected. I wouldn’t rush to fill it up. Maybe now that you have a wine cellar, family and friends will give you nice bottles of wine as gifts. Maybe after Covid, you and your husband will take a grownups only trip to a wonderful vineyard and you’ll buy a case of something and reminisce about your time together every time you open a bottle. There’s no hurry.

  • Perhaps downsize the racks by using “lateral” ones. By this I mean racks that show the bottles sideways, so you are looking at labels instead of cork covers.

  • If you were to remove the wine rack on the wall next to shelving that contains mule cups, you could add additional shelving to contain those cute little appetizer plates or munchies in clear glass containers or other bits that don’t currently have a home. Or a mini fridge! You would still have plenty of wine racks left.

  • My wife and I have 50-70 bottles of wine. I used to buy because of labels. I think it’s a waist of money. Buy what you enjoy and you could then fill in with colorful fakes .

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