If you aren’t utilizing your under stairs storage, you’re missing out on some awesome organization potential that can transform your home.
If maxed out your garage, de-cluttered your closets, converted your garden shed, and still have items to store, there may be one area that is ideal for organization that you haven’t yet tapped—under your stairs!
Whether you have an open nook already or need to do a little (potentially DIY) construction, read on for tips on how to make the area under your stairs a storage powerhouse.
Can I add storage under the stairs?
In a word—yes! Whether you have a lot of room or just a small space, the area under your stairs can be a great way to create some storage for extra organization.
The storage potential under your stairs can be flexible, utilitarian or entirely customized. Whether your new storage is well-hidden or showcased, or a combination of the two, you can add something both functional and aesthetically pleasing to your home.
“When it comes to staircases overall, there’s a lot of potential for storage,” says Alex Mazhukhin, who runs the design and renovation company Mr. Build It with his wife Irina. “Because no matter what kind of stairs you have, there will always be an empty cavity underneath. I think it’s a wasted space if you don’t take advantage of it.”
Two years ago, Mazhukhin converted an under stairs closet area into a pantry, complete with dry bar and cabinets, and documented the the under stairs storage project.
For more ideas on small space storage (including some surprising staircase options), check out our blog.
What is the best way to use space under the stairs?
As with most organization projects, it's important to be strategic with your under stair storage area to avoid it becoming a catch-all of random items.
“I always recommend that you assign the space a purpose,” says Lisa Archilla of Texas-based Bee & Peacock Organizing. “It can be more than one thing, but it shouldn’t be the place where you stick things because you don’t know where else they should go. Then it becomes a weird mix of stuff where you can’t find anything.”
Think about the location of the stairs in your home. If they’re near your kitchen, a pantry project like Mazhukhin’s might be in order. If they’re close to your study or office, consider a bookshelf.
Staircases near the back yard could be a great drop zone for sports and workout gear. If near your front door, coats and shoes may be stored there along with a spot to sit for removing footwear.
If location doesn’t help you zero in on the ideal purpose for your project, think about what may be missing. Afterall, the area under your stairs doesn’t have to be for storage alone. Do you have a home office? If not, create one under the stairs. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of having a reading nook with a good light, a comfy bench and shelving for books under the seat.
Depending on the space you’re using, you could create a hangout zone for your pets along with hidden food and toy storage. A hideaway for your kids with plush cushions and some favorite books and toys could be fun, especially if they invite you in.
Don’t worry if you need a little help figuring out what needs to be stowed under your stairs.
Archilla has worked with many clients to find personalized storage solutions under their stairs that have run the gamut from a work bench to a travel closet, which was a space “designed for a client who does a lot of traveling. Everything she needs is in one place for easy packing and also identifying things that need to be replenished.”
Once you settle on a purpose, do you want custom drawers and cabinets to hide what’s kept inside or something built-in that’s more like furniture? Or a combination of hidden storage and display shelves for a prized collection that’s been packed away too long?
How do I build under stairs storage?
For all those amateur handypeople and DIY enthusiasts, it is possible to undertake a stair storage project yourself.
However, you’ll want to take your skill level and the degree of work that needs to be done into consideration before you grab your tools and get swinging.
If you need to excavate the cavity under your staircase or encounter a load-bearing beam, it might be time to call in a professional to get the job done.
“The only part I wouldn’t consider easy to do by yourself is working with drywall,” says Mazhukhin, who had to cut out the drywall and move a support beam for his pantry conversion. “But if someone has an exposed area under the staircase, it’s just a matter of installing cabinets or shelving to complete the project.”
To get the most out of that triangular zone under your stairs when you already have a closet, Archilla recommends flexible wall-mounted shelving (generally 10-12 inches deep) that extends from the door to the slope at the back of the closet. She warns that free-standing shelving can leave you with extra negative space, which is a waste. Be sure to utilize flat spaces to the fullest by hanging items on the walls.
Another thing to consider is the time it would take you to finish the job, which can be a major factor for busy families or weekend warriors. Mazhukhin estimates that his under stair pantry project took about two weeks, but suggests that for those who can’t devote their full time and attention to the job, a similar undertaking could take a month or two.
Whether you just want to add cubbies or are hiring an expert to create a storage masterpiece, go ahead and make use of that secret storage spot under the stairs.
For more DIY projects that can improve your home, check out blog.