IMG_0362by Janet Akers


What do you do when you don’t have enough storage space?  The owner of the home pictured here found storage under the stairs.  When she was remodeling, she could have enclosed this space to create a closet, but she chose not to because of the way the staircase was constructed and because she did not want the extra expense of a building two walls to enclose the space.  The homeowner was handy with a sewing machine, so she opted to block off the space with fabric.  She minimized expenses by using a cotton painter’s cloth.  It came in the large size she needed, was of the correct weight to hang nicely, and had a color and texture that worked well with her wall color and furnishings.  For the short side of the space, she sewed a pocket on the upper edge of the fabric then hung it on a rod, which fits into two decorative hooks.  On the longer side, she used grommets on the fabric, which she then hung on nails on the inside of the stair riser.  The corner where the two are connected is closed with velcro tabs so that she can access the interior of the space easily and quickly.  The end result is plenty of storage with minimal expense and no clutter in her living room.


If you are adding a second story and end up with space under your stairs, consider using it for storage.  If your stairs are between two walls but open at the tall end, you can add a door so that the space can be closed off.  Add a hanging bar and you can use the space for clothes, with additional storage behind for infrequently used items.  If you don’t need clothing storage, consider mounting narrow shelves on one of the long walls.  That way you can store lots of things and still be able to access them easily and quickly.


If you have a more open staircase, such as the homeowner mentioned above, you can create a closet by closing in the length of the stairs in addition to the short end.  An alternative arrangement would be to construct a solid wall on the short side, with shelves or drawers on the long side.  These could be the depth of the stairs or less, depending on what you want to store there.  The shelves could be open, or have doors if you prefer not to see what you have stored there.  If you opt for drawers, they could be different heights and widths for variety, or all the same size for uniformity.  You can even customize the space with shoe racks, wine racks, or storage for sports gear.


IMG_0656If your new staircase includes a landing, don’t overlook that as a source of additional storage. In this photo, the landing is 3 1/2’ square and 2 1/2’ tall. The steps are on the backside.  The builder chose to close it in entirely, but how much more functional it would have been with some storage. Picture this space with two drawers 3’ wide and 12” tall. Or else a pair of doors opening to two shelves.


Use your imagination to come up with a creative use of space around your stairs.