Tulalip couple dug down into earth, creativity for 1,200-bottle wine cellar

Rick and Linda Hansken didn’t set out to add a spectacular wine cellar to their custom home in Tulalip. Their plan was to expand a guest bedroom.

But as that project moved along, they saw an opportunity: Why continue to store their 800 bottles of wine in a large but unfinished crawlspace? Why not dig out a new space below the bigger bedroom and put in a wine cellar?

Bret Berg of Berg Construction Services of Marysville was happy to do it.

After painstakingly creating and waterproofing the new cellar, which came close to two underground streams, Berg offered to do the finishing work, too, including the elaborate natural stone cellar walls the Hanskens desired.

The Hanskens, however — both working full time and Linda Hansken simultaneously working on her doctorate — wanted to do the finish work themselves.

Looking at the space now, after more than two years of labor, it’s hard to imagine a finer wine cellar.

Just around the corner from kitchen is a hallway with the cellar entrance, a work of art in its own right with a hand-painted mural featuring vineyard scenes and the beginning of the cellar’s elaborate stonework.

Nestled deep within the real rocks, all placed by the Hanskens, is a small, custom-made arched door.

Made of mahogany, it is heavy and ancient looking with an iron handle, decorative iron hinges and a window appliqueed with images of grape vines and wine barrels.

Its arched top is echoed in the stonework and in the barrel-style brick ceiling over the stairwell, also installed by the Hanskens.

The space underground, without a heating or cooling system, naturally stays in the 50s, perfect for preserving wine.

“It looks like you’re going down into an old-fashioned wine cellar,” Berg said, reminiscing about the wine caves he saw while visiting Italy.

Red oak stairs with cork risers lead down to the romantically lit space, featuring natural cork floors.

Linda Hanskens decorated the ceiling with the sides of old wooden wine crates. Artfully, she laid the virtual tiles out, filling in extra spaces with old wine corks to simulate grout.

Reading all the winery names on the crates overhead, it’s easy to see the Hanskens adore their hobby of finding great wines through their travels to California and Eastern Washington, visits to local restaurants and shops, and wine dinners at Tulalip Bay.

They now have about 1,200 bottles from around the world, mostly reds.

Rick Hansken estimates the couple put in about 275 square feet of brick to create the barrel ceiling over the stairs, plus more than 450 square feet of natural stone, sporting earthy tones of gray, copper and golden brown.

Their son, John, stained the cellar door and the room’s many custom-made wine racks and daughter Suzanne helped apply the images to the cellar door.

“This was a labor of love,” Rick Hansken, 58, said. “I enjoyed doing this.”

The Hanskens brought their day-job skills at Boeing to the project as well. He is an aerospace engineer and she is a project manager.

“We laid out a pattern,” Linda Hansken, 57, said. “It’s like putting a puzzle together without the picture. Each stone was hand washed at least five times.”

In the middle of the room, a wine barrel, elaborately modified by the Hanskens, serves as a table, thanks to a glass ring around the top, shelving below and a built-in lazy Susan nestled inside.

The Hanskens also had a cabinet made out of old wine crates from their favorite vintners.

“They have an artistic talent,” Berg said. “They wanted the stones to be where they wanted them. I think they did an awesome job.”

Letters on the racks help the couple keep track of their many vintages, listed on a detailed spreadsheet that is constantly updated.

Linda Hansken said they haven’t had much time in the space since it was completed in July, but said all the work they did together was actually really fun.

“I love the space. I love going down there,” she said. “There are just a lot of nice memories.”

“It’s a lot easier than going down to the crawl space,” Rick Hansken said.

Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037, sjackson@heraldnet.com.


Berg Construction Services: Bret Berg, general contractor, Marysville, 425-280-4887, bergconstruction@hotmail.com.

Mozelle by Design: Mozelle Spencer, artist, Bellevue, 206-755-7721, www.mozellebydesign.com.

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