When we renovated our little old Modern prior to moving in 10 years ago, we had to put on a very small but necessary addition. In doing so, the rickety old stairs that led to the dank and creepy basement had to be eliminated. Since all the house's mechanicals were still down there we needed a way to access them. What we have is a low-tech wooden hatch that is about 24 inches square (not quite big enough to extricate the hot water heater that only lasted 4 years. . .), and a sturdy built in ladder with 7 treads to bring you down into the not-quite-as-creepy-as-it-used-to-be space.
While appalling to imagine spending any more than 3 minutes down there for any other reason, we do keep our wine there as the conditions are favorable for our extremely modest collection. I was impressed and amused to see on Blue Ant Studio how those with, uh, more resources than we keep their vintages. (see Spiral Cellars.)
What I'd really love is to make the underworld of our house into a space where the emerging drummer in the family can bang away to his heart's content – but that would require a lot more than just a fancy hatch! – GF