How to Make Use of Space Under the Stairs? (Guide with checklist)

How to make use of space under the stairs? Clean out the space then develop a plan on how you will utilize it. Use the checklist to write out all the steps that you will follow. Then purchase the material and use the steps in this post work your project.

Whether you just moved into a new house or you are looking to reorganize your space, taking advantage of all the nooks and crannies each room has to offer cuts down on the clutter. This includes the area beneath your stairs. However, with its unusual shape, you may be asking how to make use of space under the stairs. Keep reading to find out everything from what the space under the stairs is called to how you can best use it and create your own storage units.

What is the space under the stairs called?

If the stairs in question do not have another flight of stairs underneath, the triangular space is referred to as a spandrel. Often, the space is used as a closet. However, there are various creative uses for the area.

What do you store under the stairs?

What to store under the stairs really depends on your personal preferences and routine. Since, household stairs are typically in the front room, consider using the space for storing items you need when entering or exiting the house. If your spandrel operates as a closet, this is a great place to keep extra jackets and boots.

Screenshot of pintrest search

However, the space under the stairs does not have to be exclusive to clothing storage and can satisfy many purposes. Certain daily tasks require a little extra living room storage like somewhere to put the mail and set your keys.

The area under the stairs is an ideal space for a desk to house your important items.If you lead an active lifestyle and need a place to store a bicycle or two, there are also multiple ways to hang them under the stairs. In smaller living rooms, seating may be limited.

As you plan out your space, remember to consider what the main function of the room is and how the storage can best serve your needs. Make sure to always keep safety as your number one priority. It is always better to trade a quick job for an injury-free endeavor.

What about a dog house under the stairs?

  • Dog lounge – Adding drawers with a cushion on top provides another comfortable spot to lounge and relax. For couples with pets or kids, the area under the stairs also easily provides space to insert a dog house or play area if the area is large enough. Dogs love the “cave like” area and will naturally use it as their safe space where they can relax, cool down and sleep.  In the summer time dogs will love this area if it is in the basement since it will be cooler than other parts of the house.
  • Cat crash pad- Cats also love to have their own area – in addition to taking over yours! Add a scratch pad and some toys and your cats will love their new room.  Some people have even used this area for the litter area for cats. You should choose one or the other since your cat would not likely want to use the litter box and then sleep in the same area. Mine wouldn’t want to anyways.

Pro Tip: Don’t over crowd the pet area with dressers and shelves that would encroach in their space. You want them to use it as a room, not a multipurpose room. In most cases, it will be hard to have both.

Basement under the stairs storage ideas

The other area of your house stairs are common is leading down to your basement. When it comes to this area, you should consider what the space operates as. Depending on whether your basement is a laundry room, office or man cave, the storage accommodations should reflect your needs in that space.

Square storage boxes resembling cubbies are most common when it comes to the basement. These easily hold everything from extra towels to tools.

If your basement does not operate as an extra room and serves as a storage space altogether, adding racks under the stairs provides a long space for bins. These are ideal to hold important documents, seasonal items and emergency kits.

Here are the cool ways that I found people use their space under the stairs:

  • Storage
    • With floating shelves & without
    • With a moveable dresser
    • With built in shelving
    • Using bi-fold doors
    • Using sliding barn doors
    • No doors
    • Using a bookshelf “hidden” door
  • Computer server room
  • Kids play room
  • Kids toys storage room
  • Pantry
  • Laundry storage
  • Animal den
    • Dog & cats den/room
    • Food storage area
  • Tool storage room
  • Wine cellar
  • Beer making area
  • Connection passageway to the adjacent room
  • Bathroom option is becoming popular

Best examples of space under the stairs doors

Sometimes your stairs cut through your kitchen. An easy way to add storage to your kitchen and make the spandrel a pleasing visual element is to add doors. Reclaimed wooden barn doors instantly offer a rustic touch that provide a homey feeling to the space.

Installing doors with a dark stain adds a touch of luxury.

Creating a pantry by adding doors offers the ideal space to organize your food, pots and pans, spices, dishes or cleaning supplies.

Another door that works well on under-the-stairs spaces is one that opens and closes with magnetic touch. Without the need for door knobs, the door masks the storage space, blending with the wall.

How much does it cost to build storage space under the stairs?

Costs for an under the stairs DIY project depend on which type of storage unit you are trying to build.

Typically, you are looking at a bill ranging from around $200 to $500 if you do the work yourself. While this may be an investment, it saves you about 10X by being handy with tools. Custom units created by carpenters cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000+ depending on the design.

Costs include materials like wood, glass and light fixtures. In addition, you will need tools like a screwdriver, cordless drill, level, tape measure, nails and saws to do the job yourself.

What are some modern examples of under the stairs storage?

When it comes to modern examples of storage under the stairs, the trend right now is to make the area a statement piece. Newer houses take the stance that the under-the-stairs space should be reserved for storing items that contribute to the finer things in life.

Modern examples include using the space for home bars, fireplaces, bookcases and to show off pricey art or decor. This also includes adding unique light fixtures and plants to the space. In one extreme case, fun loving homeowners even used the area for a slide.

The modern take on under-the-stairs storage definitely puts emphasis on the finishes. To make the space pop, decorating the wall inside the space with bold paint or bamboo panelling offers a new-age feel.

Can you make a bathroom in the space under the stairs?

Yes, although this option is only good for homeowners with plenty of space available. The bathroom would be rather small but you could install a toilet and sink. A bathtub would be out of the question.

Step 1. Have plumbing nearby to tie into. If you don’t have the waste pipe beneath the floor than you will need to tie into it to flush your toilet.

If the pipe is beneath the floor you will have to break up the concrete and then access the pipe so you could tie in.

Step 2. Install toilet

Step 3. Install sink plumbing

Step 4. Install sink

Can you use a barn door style door to cover the opening?

As we mentioned above, adding a barn door to the spandrel in your kitchen provides a rustic, luxurious element that creates a separated space. However, a barn door is not just limited to your food preparation zone and will look great on a variety of under-the-stairs storage spaces. The main factor to consider is the size of your space.

Standard barn doors are either (36″ x 84″) or (42″ x 80″) in size so its best to reserve these for larger areas.It is also possible to create your own custom barn door using plywood, brad nails, a drill, construction adhesive and circular and table saws.

After sanding, finishing and sealing the boards, you can add metal flat bar to create a sliding door. Tools like a cutoff or reciprocating saw and an angle grinder with a flat disc are useful during this process.

Is there an under the stairs kit?

There are several kits you can get on Amazon as well, all at very reasonable prices.

1. The WINSOON 6FT Black Steel Bending Wheel Mini Sliding Barn Door Track Roller Hardware is a great half barn door track set available at Amazaon here. This track set is great for a two mini door system. The door size is adjustable since you determine the height.

There are several high quality bifold doors that are great for enclosing the space as well. The key here is to pick doors that fit your style. You may like the open concept and decide to finish the space without a door as well…which is very popular as well.

Lowe’s and Ikea promote certain shelving units and baskets that are better suited to smaller spaces. In addition, Home Depot offers furniture that is shaped to mimic the underside of the stairs and fit seamlessly into your space.

Space Under the Stairs – Project Plan & Checklist

Like with any DIY project, protecting your safety should be your top concern. When it comes to designing and installing your storage space, it is important to keep a first aid kit close by. Also take note of the following safety precautions:

  • Plan your job before your start.
    • Download the checklist (link below).
    • Visually sketch it out on paper so you see what it will look like.
    • List all the supplies (screws, wood, storage bins, drywall compound, etc)
  • Slow down and consider your surroundings. When it comes to working in a small space, the taller you are the more at risk you are of hitting your head since it is a smaller space. Take your time and consider your surroundings. When you rush, you are more likely to revert to habit and stand up with a swift knock to your noggin.
  • Wear protective gear. Working in a confined area also makes your more prone to dropping wood or other tools on your feet. It is important to invest in boots and protective clothing and put it on before you start working.
  • Shine some light. Make sure the area has sufficient light so you can see all of the space in the area as it will most likely be pretty dark without the extra light.
  • Avoid electrical wires. If the opening under your stairs does not already exist, your DIY project will consider some serious handywork. When preparing to cut the drywall, first find the studs in the wall and mark out your space. Then, carefully cut through the drywall, avoiding any electrical wires. If you use a dremel to zip through the drywall you must know where the wires are beforehand.
  • Remove chemicals from the space. If your current under-the-stairs space houses your paints, stains or cleaning materials, remove them from the area before you begin working to avoid spills.
  • Understand your tools. Lastly, only use tools that you are comfortable with. Mismanaged drills and saws can lead to very serious injuries. If you haven’t used a tool previously, seek out someone with more experience who can make sure you are operating it correctly.
  • Dont work with kids playing around. Kids love to help out and work with projects (most kids anyways).  Be careful when you are working so they are not playing in the area.  
  • Final things to remember With better knowledge of what the area under your stairs can be used for, now comes the fun part. Taking the tips and tricks you learned above, it’s time to design!

Don’t forget to acquire useful tools like a tape measure and level. It is important to create functional storage, not something that is too big or does not make good use of the space. In addition, you want doors and decorations to hang straight. Lastly, asking for help is one of your most useful tools. Do not refrain from seeking out advice from Youtube demonstrations or other professionals.

Comparing processes with others may show you new design styles or techniques. In addition, going into a project with extra knowledge instead of guessing will make it safer.

D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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