Urban Space   

Wine Crate Accessorizing

With wine on everybody’s radar after this past weekend’s Okanagan Spring Wine Festival, I’d like to share one of my little secrets of household order: the wine crate. Call it an homage to this glorious wine region.

Wine crates are pine boxes used to ship wine to merchants. Not all wineries use them, though. Most opt for the more cost-effective corrugated cardboard box (useful for moving, but not nearly nice enough for home design, unfortunately).

My husband and I are modest wine collectors. We currently have about twenty wine crates in design—and wine—use in our home. They’re free. They’re cool. And they look great in pretty much any room.

The crates come in a few different sizes and each has the winery’s name and logo carved into the box. They’re attractive but because many wine retailers don’t see the design value of shipping crates, they’re typically discarded.

Baskets are great—and believe me, I can go on and on about the aesthetic and organizational merits of baskets (and probably will in future columns)—but wine crates are unique, and the uses for them are vast. I’ve used them for magazine and newspaper racks, media storage, food storage, and wine display. I’ve also stacked them in a corner to make funky end tables, and propped them against the wall to make a desktop bookcase.

Here are some tips for using wine crates:

Ask your local wine merchant for their wooden wine crates. Many retailers discard the crates after they unpack stock (although some style-savvy staff members may already have packed them in the trunks of their cars). Check often or ask the manager when they get regular shipments in. (Note: if they’re out of them, you may just have to buy a case of Osoyoos-Larose to get yours.)

Be creative. It’s up to you how you want to display or use your crates. Another idea for storage is to preserve the lid (ask the merchants to be careful when prying them off so they don’t split). Pick up some brass hinges at Home Depot for a couple of bucks and attach them to the crate to create an improvised storage chest.

Be careful. Remove any staples (with the claw of a hammer) and stickers (with nail polish remover), and give it a gentle sanding. The wood is light in colour, but often you’ll get one with a darker hue, and most have neat, natural whorls in the grain.

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