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Custom Wine Cellars – Making the Most Out Of Limited Spaces

Wine cellars have come a long way from just being damp, cold caves of olden times. Now, they have increasingly become a part of homes and have in fact been regarded as a house’s main feature by folks who share a passion for wine. For fervent wine collectors, not even the lack of a sizable, suitable space could stop them from realizing their dreams of owning their very own custom wine cellars.

A Customized Wine Cellar in Baltimore, Maryland

The Ahmads from Baltimore, Maryland, had an empty, unused space under their stairs that they hoped they could convert into a customized wine cellar. The room measures just 79 ½” x 46 ½” and, needless to say, we had to be creative!


Ahmad Custom Wine Cellar TOP View

Top View of the Ahmad's Custom Wine Cellar in Baltimore, Maryland

Our senior design consultant was able to make the most out of this small room by utilizing storage configurations that maximized every space available. They had to take in consideration that there needed to be ample space both for the wine bottles, and for people to walk about inside the customized wine cellar.

The Wine Racks

Custom Wine Rack with Cigar Humidor

Rack A containing the cigar humidor


The customized wine rack on the right side wall (Rack A) features a diamond configuration which is known to maximize storage space per square foot. The stacked bottles allow heat to dissipate as it’s passed from bottle to bottle, thus offering better thermal cooling performance. The wine rack also allows the best labels to be displayed by pitching some bottles at a 15 degree angle, which gives the viewer a good view of the labels while keeping the corks moist. The upper portion uses a single bottle storage configuration which offers better protection for the wine labels.



The Ahmads wanted to feature a cigar humidor within the wine cellar, so we decided to install it on the right side wall because of the deeper space on that side of the room. Like wine, cigars are premium items that need to be stored for aging and preservation. Even premium cigars can initially taste bad but when properly stored and aged, their flavors will dramatically improve as with most wines.

The cigar humidor we built for the Ahamds is lined with Spanish Cedar, which is known for its distinctive aroma that compliments cigar flavors well. We left the humidor’s interior unfinished to allow the Spanish Cedar wood’s natural oils to add flavor to the cigars. We weather stripped the door so that no other scents from the wine will be absorbed by the cigars. And finally, we used Malaysian Mahogany for the humidor’s exterior.

The wall opposite the door features a 6 Column Single Bottle Wine Rack (Rack C) from our wine rack kits. This rack is 21 5/8” wide and 12 ½” deep. Wine Racks A and C are connected by a Curved Corner Wine Rack (Rack B), also from our wine rack kits, which offers a smooth transition between the wine racks through its true radius curve shape. (A true radius curve is a portion of a perfect circle’s circumference.)


Curved Corner Wine Rack Kit

Wine Rack B. Curved corner wine rack.


Mahogany Wine Racks

Isometric View of Wine Racks A, B and C

Wooden Rack

Wine Rack D with Lateral Display Configuration




The left side wall only has a 6 inch depth space so we decided to go for the storage configuration that you can see on the right. This customized wine rack (Rack D) can hold a total of 45 wine bottles in each of its cubicles. And because the wine bottles are displayed laterally, the Ahmads can use this wine rack to display their best labels. Brilliant.





Wood Species Used

For the Ahmads’ Baltimore, Maryland wine cellar, we used Malaysian Mahogany for the wooden wine racks. Mahogany is generally strong, yet soft enough to work with. This wood species varies in color from golden brown to dark-reddish brown. True mahogany is typically considered high grade because it has low shrinkage. Unlike some other hardwoods, it resists abrasion and warping which is perfect for the elevated humidity levels found in custom wine cellars and other climate controlled rooms.

The rustic stain and clear lacquer top coat finish proved to be perfect for the Mahogany wine racks and cigar humidor exterior. The wooden wine racks ended up complementing the interior wall paint’s pinkish tones.

Wine Cooling System

According to the Köppen climate classification system, Baltimore, Maryland lies within the humid subtropical climate (Cfa) zone, which is characterized by hot, humid summers and cool winters. The climate in most of the states in the Cfa zone is subjected to extremes, which means that wine cellar cooling systems are mandatory for the Ahmads’ Baltimore, Maryland wine cellar.

WhisperKOOL’s XLT series was used for the wine cooling system. The XLT series is a self-contained wine cellar cooling system, which means that both the evaporator and condenser units are contained in a single housing. This type of wine cooling system is very easy to install as it only needs a through-the-wall installation, which basically any person can do. The WhisperKOOL XLT series is specifically designed for fairly small spaces like the one the Ahmads have. But it does need an empty, thermally-controlled adjacent room to be able to function effectively.

The Finished Product

As you can see from the pictures below, a few more modifications were made on the Mahogany wine racks, particularly on Wine Racks B and C. The installer did an excellent job of cutting away portions to accommodate the stair structure (left) and the wine cooling system (right). Check out the cigar humidor and marble surface installed on Wine Rack A!

Custom Wine Cellar - WhisperKOOL

Ahmad Custom Wine Cellar in Baltimore, Maryland

This customized wine cellar in Baltimore, Maryland can hold 410 wine bottles. The wine cellar door is made of solid wood and fitted with double-paned glass. And just as important as the wine it protects, it offers an actual livable space for the Ahmads as well.

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