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The Wine Cellar

Like most old buildings, the lighthouse has its share of unexplained nooks and crannies. The large area in the eves under the roof accessible only through a “munchkin” door comes to mind, as does a long narrow area in the basement sandwiched under the staircase and next to the bunkroom.


When I first saw the empty area downstairs, I was stumped as to its purpose. Perhaps it housed mechanicals when the keepers lived there. Or it could have served as a small storage area for tools, ropes, or other lifesaving equipment. There were no clues left behind of previous shelving like I discovered in the upstairs room off the original kitchen, which was likely used as a pantry to store non-perishable food. And there didn’t appear to have been a door to close it off. The purpose of the empty space in the basement was a mystery.


But in true renovator fashion, I decided it needed a new purpose. Since it was located in the coolest part of the lighthouse and tucked under the stairs, it was the perfect place for a wine cellar. The unusual size and depth would allow for shelving that could house dozens of bottles of wine. Now the task was to find the perfect cabinet that would fit the space and allow for maximum bottle storage.


Not too long after I decided the unused space in the basement would become a wine cellar, I visited one of my favorite antique stores in Virginia. Low and behold there stood a large, four shelf rustic display cabinet wide enough for bottles to rest horizontally and perfectly sized for the space. I picked up the powder blue shelving for a good price and hauled it home for a redo.


Since the light blue color was not going to work at the lighthouse, I chose to paint it black. But not just any black, chalkboard paint black. That way, I could write on the shelves and easily identify the type of wine offered. Once I turned the cabinet upside down, there was a perfect lip on each shelf to keep the bottles in place. Not only was I able to write the type of wine on the shelves (white, red, rose, local etc.), I encouraged guests of the lighthouse to “Bring One, Take One.”


After a couple of coats paint, the cabinet was ready to be moved to its new home. Along with some other furniture, it made the move via boat to the lighthouse. It fit perfectly in the basement space.


Since completing the wine cellar, I’ve had a steady flow of different varietals. Friends like to bring a bottle when they visit, and some have found relevant additions to the collection such as the Sea Glass brand and Opici Vino Bianco, which comes in a clear glass bottle shaped like a fish. Personally, I love having my very own wine cellar. I’m not sure, however, the original keepers would have done the same with that nook in the basement. But it’s a great conversation piece and well worthy of a toast to the transformation of such an unusual space.


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