Every home kitchen is elevated by the addition of a well-organized pantry. It’s a perfect place for bulk non-perishable foods, canned goods, seldom-used kitchen equipment, and other miscellaneous culinary items. Keeping these things out of the main kitchen makes extra elbow room when you cook while making it easy to find what you need at a moment’s notice.

Though not all kitchens come blessed with a pantry. Some are limited to little more than large cupboards or perhaps a free-standing pantry closet.

If you need more space for nonperishable foods and miscellaneous kitchen equipment, you’re left looking high and low for creative pantry locations. All the while the under-stairs area might be staring you in the face.

Down Stairs Pantry Shelves

A lot of mid-century homes and early 20th-century buildings have steps leading down to the basement. Oftentimes the steps leading upstairs sat directly above the same stairwell. With this sort of setup, you’re essentially staring at the stringers for the ascending steps as you descend to the basement. If this stairwell is right off your kitchen, then you’re staring at a lot of untapped storage potential.

Take into account the amount of overhead space you need to walk down the steps. This can be as simple as having the tallest person in your family stand on the middle step. Take out a measuring tape and the remainder, give or take a couple of inches, is free game for pantry shelves.

These under stairs shelves can be as simple as installing robust L brackets to the underside of the ascending steps. Then attaching some quarter or half-inch plywood. Dozens of canned goods, boxed dinners, and a stray pasta roller will have instantly found their new home.

Behind the Basement Door Bins

This idea lies in the same vein as basement step pantry shelves. Most basement stairwells that sit off the kitchen have a door that seals them safely away. If that door opens out toward the kitchen, instead of in, toward the basement stairwell, you will have also found more untapped pantry storage space.

This could be as simple as repurposing an over-the-door shoe pouch rack. Each pouch can hold around 5 to 7 pounds. Perfect for bulk canned goods, boxes of stuffing, bags of microwave popcorn, and other items that don’t need to spend their everyday lives in the main part of the kitchen.

Under the Ascending Stairs Pantry Ideas

Let’s say that you have a set of ascending stairs going up to the second floor either in your kitchen or just off your kitchen. Chances are the original architect of your home just left this as empty space. There’s probably some simple wallboard or beater board nailed over a lot of cubic inches of potential pantry storage space, just waiting for you to make use of it.

A little careful prying with a crowbar will give you a peak at what’s possible, without having to rip open your walls only to find enough space to store a can of beans. Let’s say you pry a little further and it reveals a beautifully bold bounty of potential storage space.

This is one of those times when you’re going to have to harken back in your memory to high school geometry class. You have to remember all those awkward triangle formulas for calculating angles. Then you have to compare them to the rise over run of the ascending steps.

Once you’ve got your math right, you can start configuring just the right kind of shelving system to meet your needs.

Angular Shelving Systems

An angular shelving system with a triangular frame that makes the slop on the underside of the ascending stairs is probably the easiest option. You can build it out of standard lumber with precise cuts from a compound miter saw.

You then anchor the shelves with wood screws into the triangular frame. Once you have the shelving unit built, you can choose whether to leave it freestanding under the stairs or if you want to secure it to the wall. If you are going to secure it to the wall, make sure to check for any hidden electrical wires.

Adjustable Shelving Systems

An adjustable shelving system usually calls for anchoring heavy-duty metal tracks to the back wall under the steps. Then pantry shelves are locked into the track at the height you prefer.

The advantage of adjustable pantry shelves under your stairs is that they can be changed at any time to help you maximize your vertical storage space. The tradeoff here is that adjustable shelf systems that are only anchored into a single wall track don’t have as much maximum weight capacity per shelf as a framed system.

Different Height Cubbies

Let’s say you and the Pythagorean Theorem aren’t on speaking terms, you find a compound miter saw intimidating, or you simply want more weight than a track-system pantry shelf can hold. In a time like this, the easy way to transform your under-stairs area into a pantry storage space is simply to install cubbies of different heights.

This will give you stackable space for canned goods, boxed meals, and bulk baking ingredients. If possible try to find cubbies that have a middle shelf or have dowels on the sides to let you suspend your own adjustable shelves.

Discretion Is the Better Part of Organization

The truth is in most homes the area under the stairs is probably a little drab or ugly. Bare wood, a few stray wires, and the potential for an odd spiderweb or two can be an eyesore. Not to mention you might not want all your pantry items on display for all the world to see.

You’re left with finding a seamless way to cover it up discreetly. All while making sure you can easily access your new under stairs pantry at a moment’s notice.

Curtains are easy enough to hang and you can even create them from a visually stunning tablecloth. They look good and slide away in seconds.

A Pocket Door is a little harder to engineer and install, but it can make the face of the under stairs pantry vanish into the wallboard again.

Folding Panel Doors when done right will also mimic the appearance of wallboard or beater board, and can fold back like an accordion in seconds.

When to Call in the Professionals

If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, you don’t have the time, or you’re worried you might not be able to get it right, you can always turn to ClosetTec. We have an in-house team of custom designers and installers who have helped hundreds of homeowners create the under stairs pantry of their dreams.

From concept to design and installation, we have the experts to help you create the pantry space of your dreams. All without having to lift a finger.