One of the newest and hottest trends in home storage solutions is making use of the space underneath the stairs. It’s especially popular in older homes, homes without a basement and split-level homes with unused stairwell space.
Even if you don’t have a lot of space there are still a lot of great storage and organization systems that can help make the most out of every square inch. It’s especially helpful in a smaller home that might already be short of functional storage solutions.
Assessing Your Space Helps Determine The Best Storage Solutions
This is another one of those times where you’ll want to break out the old measuring tape. You might even wish you would have paid closer attention in high school geometry class. Still, with some attention to detail and perhaps a little graph paper, you should be able to get a working knowledge of the available space.
While you’re at it, be sure to note the location of studs, and possible wiring and other structural features. While you can usually remove things like drywall and paneling, load-bearing components almost always need to remain in place. Though a professional contractor might have solutions for reframing certain areas to maximize space without violating any critical building codes.
Choosing An Open Versus Closed Façade
Many people who choose to transform the space under their stairs are faced with the question of exposing it and making it tasteful for all the world to see or putting a cleanly disguised door. While personal taste is always going to be a factor, the functionality of how you’ll use the space will weigh heavily here.
You need to sit down and ask yourself “What do I want to use the space under my stairs for?” If the answer is something like a place to store my child’s outdated toys basic pantry storage space to keep bulk goods near the kitchen, then you most likely would choose a tasteful door. Some doors can be disguised so well that the casual observer wouldn’t even know it was there.
If your answer is “I want to turn it into a home office space or to store my child’s favorite books,” then you’ll likely lean toward leaving it open. Of course, this will also mean making sure its appearance matches the rest of the room and the existing décor. The last thing you want is to create an eyesore in your kitchen or living room.
Transforming The Space Under Your Stairs For Functional Storage
Let’s say that you’re just looking for a place to hold excess canned goods and bulk items, or perhaps you need somewhere to store seasonal items. You might only open the door to your new storage space under the stairs every few weeks.
In a situation like this, a tastefully disguised door is probably all the styling you need. Beyond that, the interior can be outfitted with heavy-duty shelves. While a free-standing unit might suffice, the studs and other robust structural lumber under a stairwell are usually strong enough to handle some heavyweight shelving.
This becomes a great place to load in bulk foods and shelves stacked high with canned goods and dried foods like bags of rice and flour. The trade-off here is that heavy-duty shelves usually do best if they are permanently installed in place. While adjustable shelves have come a long way in weight capacity in recent years, they still don’t do well holding more than say 70 to 80 pounds per shelf.
Heavy Duty Stackable Tote Bins
If you are looking for a place to store vulnerable seasonal items, the space under your stairs might be preferable to the basement, attic, or garage where the elements are more of a factor. In the summer you can store away winter coats, hats, and snow pants. When the seasons flip again, the winter clothes come out of the tote bins to make room for beach gear swimsuits.
Heavy-duty totes with lockable lids also prevent the stray mouse from getting into the bin. They also tend to be strong enough to be stacked three or four high. The slid into place to match the natural angle of the stairwell. Just make sure to label them on the outside so you can find what you need quickly.
Transforming The Space Under Your Steps Into A Home Office
These days more and more people are looking for innovative ways to transform disused spaces into a home office. The space under the steps is a prime candidate here. It tends to have just enough space to slide in a small desk for a laptop, with enough room for convenient shelves. In a pinch, you might even be able to get a half-stack filing cabinet under the desk.
Some people are hesitant to transform the space into a home office if it’s in a highly visible place like the living room. If you have a deep stairwell, and you can get by with a slightly smaller desk. You might be able to put sliders on the feet of the desk. When you’re not using it, the desk can be slid inside the compartment and a tasteful door is closed. When it’s time to get to work, you can open up the door and pull the desk out again.
Transforming The Space Under The Deck Into A Kid’s Reading Area Or Playroom
The studs and other structural components under a stairwell tend to be stout enough to accommodate shelves. You can install a heavy-duty track system that allows you to adjust the height of the shelves to accommodate books. It’s a great way to give you kids a reading area, while still keeping some of your own books on hand.
A few tote bins for toys and perhaps a beanbag chair or should also fit in the remaining available floor space. If you like you could even put a door on it to keep your kid’s books and toys out of sight. Though most people find an open concept that encourages kids to use the space more.
Lighting The Space Under Your Stairs
Whether you intend to use it for basic functional storage or leave it open for easy access, chances are you’re going to need to add some lighting. Most of the time the space under the stairs is dark and uninviting. At the very least you need to see what you’re reaching for.
LED lights are increasingly popular these days not only for their energy efficiency and low-heat production but also because you can put them just about anywhere. There are even battery-powered units that are touch activated. The low wattage demands of the LED fixture means they can run for an incredibly long time before you need to replace the battery. There are even some that can be tinted for accent lighting.