Pencilhaven Wine Cellar: Finally Complete!

January 5, 2010

It’s been over a year in the making, and the most comprehensive Pencilhaven house project to date (and I happen to think we’ve done tons of house projects!). It all started last year when David started framing out the north section of our basement, a roughly half-octagonal space that had, until then, been used for storage of stuff and our tortoise, Chopper.

Fast-forward through insulation (DIY), door installation (ditto), wiring (same), moisture-resistant drywalling (contractor–no one in their right mind does their own drywall, right?), painting (us again), fir molding (us), slate (our trusty tile contractor, Ken), and, finally, custom wine rack design by Stellar Cellars.

Our Holiday Decor: The Wine Cellar is Done! on Flickr

Our Holiday Decor: The Wine Cellar is Done!

The Design

Ron at Stellar Cellars made this look easy. Peering at a photograph you might think you see right angles, or even consistent angles. Not so much. Our “half octagon” doesn’t have a single bend that’s true. The ceiling is two inches lower on one side of the room than the other. The walls splay outward. There’s a wacky soffit right in the middle of the room.

The design for the cellar took this into account, incrementally adjusting the widths of bottle slots to fill the whole space evenly. Subtly-tapering molding and crafty angled corners hide the obscene asymmetry of the space.

We chose alder for our main wood source based on cost and sustainability. All of the racking and cabinetry was built to order.

The Organization

David and I got all geeky up in there. We derived a coordinate system for locating wines based on the walls and sections of the room and obsessively spent five hours updating our CellarTracker inventory. As an aside, I am panting, breathing loudly, waiting, absolutely dying for their rumored UI overhaul. Best data set in the world, but their UI makes my eyes cry. I’d provide a link to our cellar listing, but that doesn’t immediately appear to be possible.

The Wine Cellar is Done! on Flickr

The Wine Cellar is Done!

Next Up

We did a bit of back-of-napkin math about how much it would cost to fill this cellar based on an average bottle cost of $25. We weren’t exactly comfortable with the result. Penury, here we come!

The Wine Cellar is Done! on Flickr

The Wine Cellar is Done!

The Transformation

Check out the before photo of the area that is now the wine cellar.

Basement Shelving on Flickr


  1. andrea says:

    Wow – the space looks tremendous. Congratulations on the great work!

  2. That is one nice wine cellar. Reminds me of what life w/o kids is like. Sigh.

  3. Preston says:

    It’s beautiful.

  4. Ron Cowan says:

    Lyza and david, those are some great pictures and very entertaining story and layout. Now we just have to get you more wine.
    Thank you for your kindness.


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