My Crazy Wife's Crazy Ideas - Printable Version

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- dananne - 10-05-2003 12:00 PM

The Anne part of "Dananne" is fed up with our humble and failing stand-alone wine cellar. It's an inexpensive temp-controlled wine cellar that holds about 220 bottles. You know the type. The condensation has collected within the walls, and they are bowing. The warping has affected the seams, so now we have condensation dripping onto the floor. We thought we had fixed the problem a year ago, but now after a hot Summer, it has returned.<P>Here's the "crazy wife" part. Rather than spending the money to replace the wine unit with something likely to be equally lousy and unattractive or spend an exhorbitant amount, thereby forgoing vacations and other desired major purchases, she has now decided that she and I (likely serving as her step-and-fetch-it, since she enjoys power tools) can build one out of an antique wardrobe or similar cabinet.<P>So here are the specifics of her grandiose scheme:<P>Purchase a suitably large wardrobe from a very reasonably-priced antique dealer (probably about $250). Pilfer from the old unit the cooling unit, mouting hardware, and light. Line the inside with polystyrene, and then a thin layer of wood over that. Then cut a hole in the wardrobe, polystyrene and extra wood layer to fit the cooling unit. ($100.) Next, send the unit off to a spray-on truck bed-liner place to have the inside of the unit sprayed with the water and air-tight truck bed-liner. ($250-500.) Then re-mount the door(s) with a rubber door seal for a refridgerator. ($?.) Then install a wooden racking unit inside to hold no less than 200 bottles. <P>So here are my questions:<BR>1. Is this possible?<BR>2. If it is possible, will it work?<BR>3. Is my wife crazy? (She insists it's mere genius.)<BR>4. Would it be even worth it to try? Or at least make inquiries into the truck liner cost?<BR>5. Any ideas or suggestions on how to change these plans to make it doable?<P>Thanks in advance for any and all comments.

- hotwine - 10-05-2003 02:26 PM

Your estimates total about $600, and even so could be too low. How about picking up one or two used refrigerators for the same or less and adding the mods to adjust their operation to mid-50's temp instead of their normal mid-30's? They're already fully insulated and have sound door seals, and you wouldn't have to sacrifice a nice piece of antique furniture. (We have three antique wardrobes and I suspect she gave more than $600 for each. Dunno, and donwannano.)

- dananne - 10-06-2003 09:27 AM

The reason we can't simply convert an old refrigerator (which would be a ton easier) is that the piece is going to be in our dining room. We have an old Victorian house, and in their infinite wisdom, they designed the house to have a kitchen the size of a shoebox, and a dining room that is large enough to comfortably fit Greenland. We do not have a utility room or basement, so the cellar will have to go in the dining room and be seen.<P>I hate to sacrifice an old wardrobe or some such piece of furniture, but it will likely be a focal point in the dining room due to it's size -- thus, it has to look good <IMG SRC=""><P>Regarding the cost, we have a great antique place called Simpler Tymes, at which it is very easy to pick up a great wardrobe for $250. It only happens once a month, but I recommend it to anyone in the Atlanta area that is looking for antique furniture. That having been said, it doesn't have to be an antique cabinet or wardrobe, but it may be hard to find a new piece at so inexpensive a price.

- hotwine - 10-06-2003 02:44 PM

Ah, the problem becomes more clear (he says, with mud in his eye). Clunky old refrigerators in the dining room of a fine old Victorian house probably wouldn't look very nice. Hmm. How about another hair-brained option: glassing in one entire wall of that big dining room to enclose a walk-in wine room? Although that would probably cost more than a modified piece of furniture...

- Thomas - 10-06-2003 08:55 PM

If you can find one or two, there are the old bar refrigerators (I think from England--suitably Victorian) that had wood on the outside and shelves on the inside. I am sure if you can find them, they would need temperature control modification, but it sounds like a perfect match for your needs.<P>I saw one in upstate NY--strikingly handsome piece; two or three feet across, with a curved glass front, maybe six feet tall.

- dananne - 10-07-2003 03:57 AM

Hey, that's not too bad of an idea. It also puts me to mind of an art deco style bar/cabinet I saw not too long ago. It seemed to have an insulated section, too, possibly making our (read: the wife's) job easier in the conversion.<P>Hotwine -- I would LOVE to glass in an area for a walk-in cellar, though I'm guessing that the cost would eliminate that as an option. Oh, well.<P>Will continue to take any and all suggestions from you folks! Thanks <IMG SRC=""><P>BTW, anyone have a pickup truck and/or familiarity with the spray-in bed liner? Would our proposed application of it be plausable?

- Drew - 10-07-2003 05:32 AM

If you can pull it off I really like your wife's idea. The only other possibility is to purchase a free standing wine cellar and one that would hold the 200 bottles you want would easily cost $1200 to $1500 plus shipping. One step higher is one of those fancy wood console units, you might get the victorian style, which would fetch over $2000. Keep us informed. You might want to go to and look around at their wine cellars.<P>Drew<p>[This message has been edited by Drew (edited 10-07-2003).]

- dananne - 10-07-2003 08:28 AM

The free standing cellar is what we currently have -- holds 220+/- and cost about $1200. However, it is unfortunately falling apart. Condensation built up and warped the side panels and particularly the back panel, and now it is leaking a condensation drip onto the hardwood floor. It did it about a year ago, and we completely emptied it, put in some new brackets to try and hold it together, and caulked the heck out of it. We thought we had it licked, but the problem has returned, and the back panel is trying to pop out. So, I think my wife is of the mind that she'd rather try and construct something that would look nice for the dining room rather than fork out the big bucks for another free standing unit. Frankly, I'd rather just buy another and save the hassle of trying to construct something, but once my wife gets an idea, she tends to run off with it <IMG SRC=""><P>

- Auburnwine - 10-07-2003 08:45 AM

I retrofitted an armoire as a media center, an easy enough task -- but moisture and temperature were not issues, so I'm not sure how effectively your wife's notion can be achieved.<P>If you were up to the challenge, perhaps you could deconstruct an armoire and rebuild it around a cellar unit. The money/effort investment might be significant. <P>But you would get to buy new tools!

- dananne - 10-07-2003 02:19 PM

Correction -- my wife would get to buy new tools.<P>In this area, we seem to have swapped traditional roles <IMG SRC=""><BR>

- Jorog - 10-17-2003 01:09 PM

Don't old victorians have closets all over the place? Why not retrofit a closet to the wine cellar and move the closet contents into the antique wardrobe? Your chiller unit would handle it on an interior wall with sufficient insulation.<P>Course you can't move it then and it doesn't show the wine off but keeps the wardrobe intact. You'll have a little cash left to buy a nicer one too.

- dananne - 10-17-2003 03:21 PM

Thank you very much for the suggestion. Actually, the idea never occurred to me. However, unfortunately, it wouldn't work in my house. I have no ground floor closets at all, and, excepting the master bedroom closet, the other 2 bedroom closets are simply too small. As is typical of the period, there is no depth between the door and the back wall. Victorian closets are frequently quite shallow, to the point of being almost useless for even storing clothes, which is why armoires and wardrobe pieces of furniture are so common. Our master bedroom, however, has a large walk-in closet, which my wife has filled to the point of overflowing with all her clothes, shoes (don't even get me started about her Imelda Marcos tendencies), etc. So, replacing that with a wine cellar may mean I'm sleeping with the dogs for some time <IMG SRC=""><P>Alas! This infernal house just doesn't want me to keep wine!<P>In the meantime, I have recaulked every seam in my free-standing cellar, and even sprayed that water/airtight foam crack sealer stuff around the seams where the condensation was coming out. It is holding it's temp right now, and since we keep our downstairs thermostat set at 60 in the winter to avoid $400 gas bills in this virtually uninsulated, nightmare-to-heat house, it shouldn't have to do much work to maintain appropriate cellar temp for the next several months. Also, the condensation is generally only a problem in the summer. So, I've (hopefully) bought myself a few months until my wife will want to attempt this outrageous and likely futile project <IMG SRC=""><BR> <BR>

- winoweenie - 10-17-2003 04:16 PM

Don't know what itis about the humidity in Atlanta but a close personal friend has had the same problems with his unit as you. How about the garage? Enny wasted space out there? My Daughter and son-in-law put a great cellar in their garage up in Carefree and the venting of the refrigeration unit was much easier.WW

- dananne - 10-18-2003 06:05 AM

No garage -- on-street parking <IMG SRC=""><P>Glancing over my history of posts on the topic, however, I see the obvious solution -- move to a new house with an already-built-in wine cellar. <IMG SRC=""><P>WW -- You are right about the humidity here -- it's downright wicked.

- winoweenie - 10-18-2003 06:29 AM

Have tons of 1st hand knowledge as my business are located 95 miles north on 95<BR>( Dalton ). When people complain about the 105 temps here with 5% humiditity I remind them of the 90/90 they're privilaged to live with in No. Georgia. <IMG SRC="">ww