Stairwells create triangular pockets of space for extra storage when enclosed.

How to Use Your Stairwells for Storage

by D Ann Kross

Often forgotten, stairwells offer untapped storage opportunities in two-story homes. Depending on the finish level of your under-stairs space, you may decide to incorporate a series of shelves or drawers that conform to the recessed area. If a closet already exists beneath the stairs, maximize hard-to-reach corners with a series of stacking crates or open shelving to contain seldom-used items, such as seasonal decorations. If the area beneath the stairs is open, consider custom-built options such as working drawers and cabinetry to finish the space with practical detailing.

1. Measure The Space

Determine the area you have to work with by measuring the width, depth and height of the stairwell area. Utilize graph paper to scale a drawing of the space accurately. If the space has special considerations, such as overhead lighting, indicate the location on your scaled detailed drawing. When maximizing storage space inside an existing under-stairs closet, make note of the door swing direction and the door opening measurement on your drawing. Work with the drawing to plan your closet layout.

2. Creative Stairwell Storage

The innovative ways to utilize stairwell space are limitless. Creative concepts include turning the staircase into a series of stacked, functional drawers cleverly concealed and accessed through the risers of each converted step. Other creative stairwell conversions include customized office nooks, sewing and craft centers, library bookcases and an inviting under-stairs sitting nook lined with cushions and inset bookshelves to display collectibles. Depending on budget and space restrictions, your stairwell holds the potential for multiple creative storage solutions.

3. Storage Use and Purpose

To calculate the correct proportion of elements, such as shelf height and depth, consider the required clearance of items that will be stored in the space. Reserve lower and hard-to-reach shelves for large or seldom used items and strive for symmetry at eye level, such as grouping a collection of books or albums upright. Consider incorporating a series of storage baskets to neatly contain small items. Lower shelves provide handy solutions for toddlers to become proactive in toy organization.

4. Designer Tips

Take advantage of every square inch to maximize storage opportunities in a stairwell. A naked wall section can become a peg-board storage area for cleaning supplies, rain gear or craft items. Conform new shelving to stairwell corners with right angles to maximize space and create wrap-around shelving. Research similar projects online to visualize your storage solution ideas. Hire or consult a qualified carpenter prior to attempting intricate plans, such as built-in staircase storage or angled cabinets.

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