Use under-stairs cupboards and stairway shelving wisely to maximise your storage potential
Houzz Contributor. I’m a London-based journalist with years of experience writing… More
In these space-starved times, most of us want to utilise every inch of storage in our homes. So making the most of under-stairs cupboards and stairway shelving doesn’t just make sense, it can be key to a calm, clutter-free environment.
The main trick with under-stairs storage is to decide what you actually need it for: many of us live unhappily with a single cupboard stuffed to the gills with a mix of cleaning kit, paint tins and light bulbs. But simply dividing this space up into a couple of separate cupboards and drawers can impose the order and access you crave. Here are 12 different ways to make the most of what you’ve got.
Create open shelving
Don’t automatically assume the under-stairs area should be reserved for hiding the Hoover and sundry shopping bags. Open shelving can look stylish, as these chic box shelves prove – more conventional horizontal shelves might have been messier. Here they provide a home for oversized art and travel books, while the soft grey woodwork contrasts with the hallway and adds an elegant feel.
Tip Note these shelves are fairly shallow – you could decide to divide up your under-stairs cavity into narrow display shelves, while retaining a skinnier hidden cupboard behind.
Max your drawers
Think about the exact combination of storage that will work for the way you live. These open cubbyholes have been supplemented by a low bank of drawers – ideal for stashing the post, dustpan and brush and other household paraphernalia.
Explore more ways with open shelving
Extend a room
With the dimensions of our homes shrinking, you might decide you’re actually better off using your under-stairs area to extend an adjacent room. This spot adds to the kitchen, with an extra worktop, shelf and sink for drinks prepping. The simple, industrial-style staircase adds to the modern feel.
Using the same Scandi-pale wood for these under-stairs cabinets as the staircase and banister creates a feeling of uniformity and order. Rather than creating one cupboard, the architect has divided them into smaller cupboards that will be easier to keep tidy and navigate in a hurry.
Squeeze in a sofa
Craving a quiet corner? These smart owners have designed a reading nook, complete with mini sofa, cushions and shelves. If you’ve always hankered after a room of your own but don’t have a spare study or attic space, this could be a cosy compromise.
Choose a bright colour
Who said staircase cupboards have to be white or wood so they ‘disappear’ from sight? Choosing a chartreuse textured finish for these smart, minimal doors lifts the space and turns the cupboards into an attractive feature.
Add some stairway shelves
Using the wall space on a staircase for books – if you have the width – is pure common sense. It can also add character and charm to a plain staircase, as seen here.
Talk to a carpenter for the best way to utilise ‘dead’ stairway space, making sure you think about how much room you need to ‘turn’ comfortably on the stairs (you don’t want be knocking over War & Peace every time you climb the wooden hill to Bedfordshire).
Create a library
Don’t want to dominate your living space with endless rows of shelving? Given a little planning, you can use your stairwell instead. This splendid staircase has been turned into a library, dodging the bland look that empty staircases can sometimes have.
Stash your shoes
There’s ordinary under-stairs storage, and then there’s this great solution for getting rid of unsightly shoes strewn across the hallway (a common problem in my house). This slide-out shoe rack is just the ticket, while the stairs themselves are beautiful.
Take 10 steps to a smarter staircase
There really are no rules as to how you should use your under-stairs space. Here, the owners have chosen to eschew the usual fitted cupboards and have instead created an eclectic, thrift-shop-style display using vintage crates. The resulting melange of retro toys, paintings and various other objects is charming, cool and bound to start a few conversations.
Insert a study
If you desperately need a home study area, then utilising the under-stairs zone may work better for you than sacrificing a corner of the bedroom or dining room. Remember to think about functional things such as lighting, as under the stairs can be pretty gloomy; here, strategically placed spotlights ensure the owner won’t be working in the dark.
Create a mini utility room
Tucking the washing machine and dryer under the stairs is a genius idea that frees up space in the kitchen for more units or a breakfast bar. Condenser dryers are a good choice for this arrangement, as they don’t need a vent – they collect moisture in a removable container.
Line up the appliances side-by-side and hide behind doors, or copy this neat solution, which includes a cubbyhole that was no doubt originally intended for a laundry basket…
How have you used your stairway for storage? Share your thoughts and photos in the Comments below.