What Lives Under Your Stairs? 14 ingenious ideas for transforming the cupboard under the stairs

One of the most underused storage areas of the home is the under stairs cupboard. More often than not, it's the place where we throw everything that doesn't have a home, however, there are several great storage opportunities lurking under there.

Here we look at some great ways to maximise this space, for uses including:

Cupboard under the stairs Handbags stored behind bedroom door

1. Coat storage

This is probably the most common use of the space under the stairs, especially if the stairs are in the hallway. For most homes it's a bit of a no-brainer, as it instantly hides away coats, scarves, bags, boots etc whilst keeping them easily accessible.

The downside of these types of cloakroom is that they can quickly turn into a bit of a dumping ground. This can be easily addressed by installing shelves to store accessories (individual boxes for gloves, hats, accessories etc can help keep things neat and organised).

TOP TIP: Don't forget the storage potential on the back of the door, such as shoe racks and bag hooks.

Toilet under the stairs

2. W/C

An extra toilet is always handy, especially in a family home, and where better to install one than in that under-used area under the stairs?

You may need to be creative with your space, and you will have to take plumbing requirements into consideration, but with the right help and advice you can create a room that is not only useful, it will ultimately be an additional selling point to your property.

Office under the stairs

3. Workspace

With more and more people opting for flexible working, there is an increased need to create a work-station within the home.

Dedicating an entire room to a home office isn't always practical, however converting an un-used area can be a great solution. Hollowing out the space under the stairs will create plenty of space for a desk, and hidden shelves can easily be integrated into the wall space.

As most office furniture is designed to maximise space, you will also be able to fit a surprising amount of under desk storage into your work-space.

4. Wine Storage

Another popular use for this area is to store and display wine. The space lends itself to structured grid style storage, and it can be relatively cheap and easy to transform the area into a stylish, yet useful feature.

understairs-wine-cellar-remodelista Bookshelves integrated into under stair space

5. Integrated bookshelves

Create your very own library by lining the walls within the space with narrow shelves. By positioning the shelves relatively close together (take a look at the average size of your books and plan your shelves accordingly) you can fit a surprising amount of books in there.

Go a step further and turn the space into a reading nook. Incorporate some task lighting and seating, and the dead space suddenly becomes a cosy den.

TOP TIP: If you choose to create an integrated seat, incorporate additional storage with a 'toy box style' hinged seat, allowing access to the hollow space inside the chair.

6. Playhouse

Most children love building dens and hiding in little wendy houses, so why not transform this space into their own little play house? It's a great way to create a down stairs play space, whilst also creating a place to store toys that would otherwise clutter up the house.

A playhouse under the stairs Integrated shoe rack beneath stairs

7. Shoe storage

For those who consider shoes as a passion rather than a practicality, this can be a great area for creating specific shoe and boot storage.

Pull out drawers are a popular way to store shoes, as is cube storage and shallow shelves. Clear plastic boxes are great for stacking whilst still being able to see the shoes inside.

For family use, use the lower shelves for kids shoes so that they can put their own shoes away.

TOP TIP: If you prefer to store your shoes in their original boxes, a time saving tip is to take a photo of the shoes and pin the picture onto the box, that way you can instantly see what is in the box without opening it.

8. Laundry/utility

If you have a small kitchen it can be difficult to fit all of your white goods into the space. The area under the stairs is ideal for housing washing machines (plumbing permitted) and the space above is great for storing laundry equipment. As the space is being used in a functional way some people may prefer to close the space off with cupboard style doors.

Compact laundry and utility

9. Bike storage

Bikes are notoriously hard to store, especially if you don't have access to a garage or outhouse. Increasingly, people are biting the bullet and making their bike a feature of the room, by wall mounting or suspending in some way. The space beneath freestanding staircases is a great spot to 'hang' a bike and keep it tucked out of the way. This turns the bike into a quirky focal point rather than simply a cumbersome obstacle that clutters up the hallway.

dual staircase bike storage A corner sofa under the stairs

10. Seating area

Staircases in living areas can easily be integrated into the overall layout of the room. 'Hollowing out' this space will add an extra couple of feet to a room, ideal if you need more seating options. Use this additional floor space to house a small eating booth, a freestanding bistro table or funky corner sofa.

A pet house under the stairs

11. Pet house

Another good use of this space is to turn it into a pet house for your dog or cat. Put your pet's bed and toys inside the space to create a cosy place for them to sleep.

As this area is likely to be relatively small and without natural light, it is important that you don't have a fully closing door. Consider a simple arched doorway, as per the traditional kennel, or, if you prefer to be able to close the 'door', look at gates, shutters or doors with windows to ensure your pet has sufficient light and ventilation.

TOP TIP: Install a soft light on a timer that will illuminate the space in the evening. This is ideal for when your pet is left in the home alone.

A kitchen under the stairs

12. White goods storage

On a similar theme to the laundry example, housing white goods such as free standing fridge freezers and dishwashers (plumbing permitted) within the wall beneath the staircase can be a great space saving option.

TOP TIP: Position the white goods so that the doors sit flush with the wall for a seamless, and barely noticeable solution.

Entertainment system under stairs

13. Sound system/TV storage

Staircases within living areas are perfect for housing TV and audio equipment. If you don't fancy trying your hand at building a bespoke shelving/media unit to fit the space, there are several furniture manufacturers on the market offering module based products that can be easily constructed to fit the space.

Safe space under the stairs

14. Secret storage

If you want to integrate a 'safe place' into your home, for storing valuables or important documents, the space under the stairs could present the perfect secret storage spot. Simply create a small hinged door to allow access to the hollow space inside

TOP TIP: Disguise the cupboard space altogether by incorporating some decorative shelving into the door and no one will guess where your treasures are hidden!