Root cellars are a traditional way to preserve food, helping it to last much longer than it would otherwise. While we now have fridges, root cellars aren’t a thing of the past. Many people still use them, particularly homesteaders, survivalists, and anyone wanting to get back to nature. There are many modern root cellar designs that can be used to achieve the goal of long-term food storage, while giving having an aesthetic that makes you proud of your work beyond, “it just works”.
There are benefits too. For one thing, root cellars are low cost ways to keep food fresh, particularly root vegetables, other produce, and preservatives. Most of the costs come from setting them up, as a root cellar doesn’t use any energy (which is helpful if you have a power outage too, like during a hurricane).
Root cellars also allow you to store much more produce than you ever could in the fridge. Plus, if the power goes out, you risk losing all the food in your fridge. This doesn’t happen with a root cellar.
You can have a root cellar put in when your house is first built or extend your basement to include one, but those aren’t the only options. Some people build external root cellars instead, including some that look like works of art from the outside. We’ve featured a variety of these in this post.
On a side note, many of these designs could be used for other purposes. Some people even make guest houses or kid’s playrooms using similar structures. Why not let your imagination go wild?
Modern Root Cellar Designs (With Pictures!)
A Quaint Garden Structure
I love the elegance of this design. It looks like something out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or some fantasy novel. The outdoor seating set above the cellar is even more beautiful.
This style would be wonderful if you also stored wine and preserves in the root cellar. You might even be able to host an entire party without anyone going back to the main house.
A Hobbit-Style Root Cellar
Root cellars are structures in the ground anyway, so why not make them look like a hobbit hole? That idea is becoming increasingly popular.
I particularly like the pictured version because we get to see what the root cellar looks like on the inside. This is perfect for anyone wanting to build their own version.
One Seriously Impressive Design
Root cellars don’t need to be simple and out of the way. Some are incredibly impressive instead. The pictured root cellar is one example, complete with a carefully designed and landscaped garden on top.
The steps going up to the garden are pretty cool too, as are the curves of the design. After all, if you want to impress, why not go all out?
What About This Stonework?
This root cellar uses stones as well, but follows a completely different style. While the previous version was elegant and impressive, this one is rustic instead.
The best style really depends on the surrounding environment. For example, if you’re homesteading, a rustic design makes the most sense. If the root cellar is a feature on an estate or a vineyard, then something elegant might be better.
Another Pretty Cellar
Here’s another interesting cellar. This one has been carefully designed with brickwork, stones, and flowers, plus an elegant wooden door.
The purple flowers are particularly interesting. These really make the cellar stand out and look exciting. Of course, you could easily choose a different flower color.
A Cellar From Homestead Honey
This structure follows a different visual style again. That’s not a bad thing though.
What’s more, the Instagrammer that posted this includes a link to her eBook, which steps you through how the cellar was built. A book like that would teach you everything you need to make your own version.
Hidden In The Garden
This version relies on a natural hill to create a root cellar that’s almost entirely invisible. It just looks like a door in the middle of bush, which is pretty cool.
Root cellars like this don’t need to be rustic either. Many are, but sometimes you see a very modern and elegant root cellar behind a rustic door.
Here’s A Beautiful Modern Design
This design is exciting, as it looks much like the entrance to a house or a hidden room. This type of root cellar design is most common on large estates or wineries, as it allows for plenty of storage space.
You may notice that the cellar isn’t underground in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s part of a natural or an artificially built hill.
A Fun Beginning
I love the visual style of this root cellar. It’s unlike any others on this list and is enough to make you look twice. The style could be particularly good if the rest of your home is a little quirky as well.
Packed Full Of Food
We can’t forget about the inside of the root cellar, can we? This incredible version comes from the Klein Jam Restaurant. It’s larger and more impressive than a root cellar you’d make at home, but it shows you what’s possible.
Beautiful And Elegant
There’s something both elegant and enchanting about this design. The color of the wood coupled with the bricks works so well. I particularly love how the bricks step down on each side of the door, turning a corner as they go.
A Little Like A Tent
This root cellar is a little unusual, as it isn’t underground in the same way as normal. Yet, it was designed as a root cellar and should still have most of the same properties.
Building a root cellar mostly above ground like this has advantages too, as it is easier to create (particularly if your home doesn’t have many natural hills). Just make sure to look for good directions, so you end up with a root cellar that actually works.
In The Heart Of Nature
This root cellar looks like something out of a dream. It’s so well-integrated into the environment that you could almost walk past it without noticing at all. Impressive, right?
This style could be particularly relevant for preppers, as it gives you the chance to store food out of the way and in nature.
This One Really Looks Like A Hobbit Hole
The creators of this root cellar really went all in on the hobbit hole style. There’s even an old fashioned bell (slightly odd for a root cellar, but the bell does complete the image).
The contrast between the bricks and grouting for this root cellar works particularly well too.
This Version Can Go Anywhere
We’ll talk more about this clever root cellar shortly. Unlike the other designs, the root cellar component is prefabricated. This allows it to be used in many different soil types and environments – including the beach!
The actual prefabricated structure is lightweight and even comes with stairs. So, rather than building an entire root cellar, you just need to clear out space for the prefabricated product.
This root cellar comes from a company called Revonia, who aims to make the cellar match the style of your home. Their root cellars mostly follow the idea of a man-made hill with a beautiful entryway.
A company like this could be perfect if you’re not good at creating beautiful designs yourself.
Behind The Yellow Door
This version isn’t from Revonia, but it follows the same idea. I love the curves in the white doorway coupled with the yellow door. Yellow is an odd choice, but it works well, particularly when the grass is this vibrant shade of green.
A Simple Option
This root cellar isn’t as beautiful or as well-designed as some others we’ve featured. It isn’t meant to be either. Instead, the focus is on an inexpensive root cellar that isn’t too challenging to build.
After all, root cellars all function in the same way. You don’t need an incredibly beautiful version if you’re simply trying to make your food last longer.
At The End Of The Garden Path
Somehow this version reminds me of a door from Beatrix Potter or some similar story. It just has that feel to it. It’s also a very unassuming design, relying on woven sticks rather than bricks along the edges.
A Different, Yet Effective Style
Here’s another somewhat above the ground version of a root cellar. It’s not obvious from the image, but I suspect this one extends underground as well, to help keep the food cool.
The root cellar doesn’t blend into its environment much at all, unlike most of the other designs on this list. That’s not necessarily bad though, as the style would work well for some environments.
Don’t You Love The Door On This One?
Then there’s this root cellar. It looks a little like the stone entranceway and door were made separately, then attached to a root cellar built in the hill.
That brings up a good point – most of the time we’ve been looking at the outside of root cellars, but the interior design can vary dramatically too. Some root cellars are small and rustic inside, while others are much larger, elegant, and even well-lit.
How Do You Make A Root Cellar?
What A Root Cellar Needs
Root cellars rely on the fact that the ground tends to be moist and cool once you dig down far enough. Because of this, root cellars are generally underground. This means that in most cases, you’ll be doing some digging.
Many of the cellars featured on this list use natural hills, as this is much easier than digging straight down and allows you to create more beautiful entrances. Some go in the opposite direction and build artificial hills or structures over the root cellar. This means the root cellar can be wherever you want.
Root cellars need strong walls, such as reinforced wood, cinderblock, or concrete. It’s also important to have some form of ventilation, to allow cool outside air to enter the root cellar and stale air to leave.
Using a Prefabricated Root Cellar
Root cellars tend to be time consuming and expensive, especially if you want a large one. Some of that time and cost comes from clearing dirt to build the root cellar to begin with, while a large chunk is associated with the materials. After all, you need solid reinforced walls to withstand the pressure of the earth and many options aren’t cheap.
Some companies now create prefabricated root cellars to make life much easier. The most famous example is Groundfridge, which is an amazing product.
Groundfridge is a lightweight prefabricated cellar (very lightweight, as it’s made from durable foam!). The cellar is large enough for two people to stand in, with a storage capacity of close to 800 gallons.
Other features include a timed ventilation system, steps and a stainless steel handrail, a lockable door, and shelves for all your storage needs.
While Groundfridge is currently the most modern prefabricated root cellar, there are plenty of more rustic options as well, including concrete root cellars. These are effective, easily installed, and get the job done.