Westchester design custom built passive antique wood wine cellar racks


Passive Wine Cellars
12.19.11. by Sylvain Côté. Naturally Cooled Wine Cellars Are
A Practical Option for Basements.


PROJECT LOCATION:  South Salem, Westchester county, NY
Sylvain Côté
STARTING DATE:  Spring 2009
COMMENTS FROM OTHERS: "What a great wine cellar! It looks like you used old wine boxes to box in the ducts; and what kind of wood did you use for the shelves?  It looks like something that's recycled.  My editor would tell me that a box on wine cellars has too narrow a focus--but what about creative and beautiful ways to reuse materials--do you have any more examples of that?"
PROJECT DESCRIPTION :  Yes, I did use wine boxes to cover drywall, which does cover a steel beam, and since the space was a little high and I wanted to keep the vertical shelving at 12 units (as per a case of wine), I had that extra bare space just below the ceiling… They came as a donation from a friend who owns a local wine store.

Yes, some of the wood is reclaimed (untreated wood that is, meaning no stain, no varnish, no nothing, except from being cleanup with that Makita electric wire brush, which brings the tiny bit of natural wood oils and/or minerals back to the surface due to the heat produced and actually sort of seal it, a process we found out to work great by accident). Someone was tearing down a 200 year old barn (which was literally falling apart) across the lake and when I saw that, I stopped by the very next day and inquired about buying the wood, which we did; Not only we end up with some incredible pieces of pine, but also some white oak as well, which we used as the “shelves”, the forefront pieces that hold the antique label holders…

The other main vertical pieces are reclaimed wood as well, but taken from the heart of the lumber itself, so no patina there… I believe we also left the wood untreated as well.

And finally, all of the remaining lumber used, which is probably about 90% of the final product, is made of - Are you ready for this? – 2 x 4’s! You read correctly; We bought cheap, yellow spruce at $2 per pieces from Home Depot, ripped them in half (which required 2 passes on the table saw); I am not sure which technique my guy used (my 50 year old cabinet maker is from Slovakia; He learned from his father or grandfather back home before his son won the immigration lottery 10 years ago and relocated here. He can not design or create anything, but he is unparallel at the execution). The yellow pine did receive a onetime Cabot stain named driftwood, I think.

The 12 lite door came from the garbage – Yes, garbage! I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time a few years ago when I spotted not one, but two doors laying by the curb; I immediately turned around, pulled over and went straight to the front door to inquire about the doors. The lady was actually surprised someone would even ask to take them when they were there for the taking! She was also happy that they would find a home, since they were laying there in the rain for two days already!!! I could not believe not one else had picked them up.

I am a firm believer of “having too much of a good thing, making it bad” (I hope I said that right!); I love stones, but I’ve seen houses here that had so much of it (the dormers were stoned), that it was absolutely ugly, even repulsive if you ask me! Same with wood; I’ve seen people using so much of it (all 4 walls, the ceiling and of course the floor), it made my head spin, not knowing where to stand if it wasn’t for gravity…). So, I thought a bit of stones in the back would balance everything. I found out through experience that a balance of raw materials like wood, stone and wrought iron is the most desirable when designing. The stones are actually man made, by Eldorado.

The floor itself is nothing but the concrete slab; Ok, I did a little treatment to it… I acid-stained it, cleaned it up, then sealed it.

Best of all, the whole thing is passive. The left and back walls are against poured concrete foundations, with thin layer of troweled Portland; The other two walls are framed (metal studs) but well insulated with continuous 2” thick blue board and then 5/8”, topped with an earth-color, heavy-sand paint. We also sprayed the ceiling and every little nook with 2” of close cell foam insulation before installing drywall. The result is a room that stays between 55 and 60 degrees (Summer goes up to 60, winter down to 55); Humidity level is a little higher that I what I wanted, but still acceptable at 75 to 80%.

And Voila!: We have a custom, green wine cellar, made of reclaimed vintage wood, w/o any energy cost for up keeping.

1161 bottles can comfortably age in there, in a space of roughly 10.5’ deep x 5’ wide


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We are located in South Salem, (Westchester County), NY
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