The project: Wine enthusiasts Claire and Bill Von Holtum wanted to make the most of the lower level in their Eden Prairie home. They had a big family room, complete with fireplace and wet bar, but rarely used it. The couple had recently visited California’s Napa Valley, joined some wine clubs and were “delving into the whole world of wine,” Claire said. One day she had an epiphany: an unfinished space that they were using for storage could become a place to savor their cabernets and zinfandels. “It just dawned on me that it was the perfect size for a wine room.”

The designer: Lisa Ball, Design by Lisa, 952-261-2027,

First things first: The biggest challenge for Ball was figuring out how to use the space in the oddly shaped room, which was long, narrow and irregular. The couple wanted to include a tasting table, as well as racking for a substantial number of bottles. “Trying to use the whole space was a little tricky,” she said. Ball and the couple worked with Ironwood Builders and Oakcraft, which had built the home’s original cabinets 15 years earlier.

The inspiration: The Von Holtums were seeking an Old World vibe for their new wine room. “We wanted it to look like an old wine cellar in Tuscany,” Claire said. “We honeymooned in Italy six years ago, and we wanted that feel.” With that in mind, the couple opted for stone accent walls, choosing a warm, rustic ledgestone veneer. The same stone was used to clad the fireplace in the adjacent family room.

“Plaster” and “wood”: For the walls and flooring in the wine room, Ball sourced new materials that could replicate the look of an ancient cellar. The textured finish on the walls, which resembles old plaster or cork, is actually an industrial vinyl wallpaper. The floors, too, are made of vinyl, but formed in planks that look like hardwood. “They’ve come a long way,” Ball said of today’s vinyl products. “They’re less expensive [than wood], quieter in that little room and easier to install on the concrete floor.”

Utilizing wasted space: The couple reconfigured their existing cabinets and fireplace to accommodate a bigger flat-screen TV and update the room’s look. In addition, a small triangle of wasted space just outside the wine room was outfitted with custom cabinets in knotty alder. “It made the room flow better and created storage where we can hang glasses and keep a little book for [tasting] notes,” Claire said.

Rack ’em up: The metal wine-racking system, which can accommodate up to 400 bottles, still allows for easy reading of all labels.

Just a taste: The room was too narrow to accommodate a full tasting table. So Ball and the Von Holtums found a small table with a metal base that they liked, and planned to cut the top in half, to fit into the compact space. But when that proved unworkable, general contractor Jesse Steinwald of Ironwood suggested a smaller semicircle top set flush against the wall. Bill Von Holtum made the new tabletop out of reclaimed wooden boards.

Let there be light: New wrought-iron light fixtures with a vintage look complete the wine room. “Claire found most of those,” Ball said. “I gave her drawings of what to look for. She liked being involved.”

The payoff: “The space turned out beautifully,” Claire said. “It definitely added an elegant touch to the rec-room area.” Now the Von Holtums can host tastings, inviting friends over to sample and share favorite vintages. “It’s really fun — a different way to entertain.”