The space under the stairs is one of the most commonly neglected and misused areas in a house. Often used as a dark and cluttered dumping ground, objects that end up there are not usually seen again for a very long time.
With many of us feeling that our houses are too cramped, reinventing the area under our stairs has the potential to make a big difference to our living space and level of comfort at home.
With a little bit of thought, creativity and careful planning, it’s possible to turn this wasted space into a useful area that adds value to your home.
Here are a few clever ideas for how you can reinvent the space.
Understairs storage solutions
Most people use the space under the stairs for storage, but you’ll normally find that things are squeezed in, rather than the space being organised. Chaotic storage isn’t much use, as it’s easy to forget what you’ve got, and difficult to find something when you need it.
To create order, look to build custom shelves, drawers, cabinets or other storage solutions that fit snugly and neatly into the space.
Here are four popular ideas:
Bookshelves – If you’re a household of book worms, a little understairs library or reading nook may be the perfect way to reinvent the space. Line the walls from top to bottom with made-to-measure bookshelves to really make a feature of your literary collection. Or if you’ve not got enough books to fill the space, you could nestle a small armchair or cushioned bench and reading lamp between the shelves to create a cosy, quiet area to while away the time.
Wine – Having more wine than you’ve got space for doesn’t sound like such a bad problem to have, but it does have its challenges. Having your own wine cellar under the stairs can help solve that problem. Wine racks come in all different shapes and sizes, so you should be able to find something that fits in your space. If you’re serious about your wine collection though, a climate controlled custom-made solution will hold more bottles and mean you can store them at an ideal temperature to keep them at their best.
Outerwear – Most of us have coats and shoes stashed away under the stairs, but probably not very neatly. If you’re looking for a place to put your shoes and hang your hat, your perfect solution may be an understair walk-in wardrobe for outerwear. Keep coats, shoes, hats, gloves, scarves, bags and umbrellas for the whole family neat and organised with custom-built drawers, rails and racks.
Toys – If you’ve got kids’ toys taking over the house, you can reclaim your living area with understairs toy storage. Aim for wall to wall custom-built drawers and shelves that are easily accessible to keep toys organised and hidden away when they’re not being used.
Small understairs ideas
Just because the space under your stairs isn’t as big as some, doesn’t mean you can’t still make something of it.
Smaller understairs areas are more affordable to kit out, and you’ll be surprised as to how much more valuable that smaller space becomes when it’s organised and easy to access. Simply add some built-in shelves or a couple of built-in cabinets to make an underused space useful and free up more space elsewhere.
If you have enough storage around the house but could really do with an extra room, why not convert the area under your stairs into a new living space?
- Utility room
Tuck your washing machine and tumble dryer under the stairs, alongside shelves and drawers for storing other utility essentials like washing powder and fabric softener, an iron, laundry basket and clothes line pegs. Add custom-made doors to cover the washing machine and tumble dryer and keep them looking tidy. Once they’re out of the way, you’ll win back extra space in the kitchen.
- Office space
If you’ve always wanted an office but don’t have a big enough house, convert your understairs space into a compact home office with built-in shelving and a desk and it’ll feel like you’ve added a whole new room.This is the perfect solution if you work from home and find yourself perching at the living room table, or if you’d like a quiet space for children to do their homework.
- Downstairs toilet
Adding a downstairs toilet is not only a practical and convenient home improvement, but a valuable one too. On average, adding one into your home is said to increase a property’s value by 5%.
- Craft or hobby room
If you’ve got craft materials coming out of your ears, or another hobby that entails hoarding a lot of stuff, building a storage system under your stairs will help you to keep your collection neat and tidy. Add a small desk if you have room and the space could quickly become your new favourite spot in the house.
Making your vision a reality
If you’re ready to reclaim the space under your stairs, but not sure where to start, here’s what to consider before you begin.
Before getting too carried away, it’s best to measure up the space you have so you know exactly what you’ve got to work with. Having a good idea of the dimensions will also be useful if you do end up calling in a local carpenter for a quote on the job.
Don’t forget to be realistic to avoid disappointment later down the line. Set a budget for your project from the start and make sure you stick to it. You may be able to reduce the price by DIYing at least part of the job or compromising on the quality of the materials you use for a desk.
Can you DIY it?
Whether or not you can DIY your project depends entirely on your experience. There’s no harm in having a go at building custom drawers or shelves if you feel confident, but you’ll need to make sure any shelves are secure enough to not fall down and cause an injury. If you’re going to need electrics or plumbing installing, that’s definitely best left to the professionals. Most electrical installation work needs to comply with Part P of the building regulations. If a tradesperson is registered with a Part P scheme, they can certify that their work is up to scratch. If they’re not, you’ll need to get approval for the work they carry out.
Create a drawing or plan
Whether you’re going to tackle the project yourself or call in a tradesperson, it helps to create a rough drawing or plan of your design. This can help you to iron out the finer details and identify any areas in your design that may be problematic. If you’re calling in a tradesperson for a quote, a plan can help to bring your vision to life and ensure that you’re both reading from the same page.
Complement the rest of your home
Don’t forget that the space is a continuation of another room, whether it’s your hallway, kitchen or living room, so you’ll want to make sure that your design complements the interior around it and doesn’t look out of place.
How much will it cost?
The cost of this type of job can vary as it depends on the size and scope of the project.
A few important factors that will affect the price include:
- Project type (are you installing storage or creating a mini room?)
- Amount of custom-built furniture required.
- Whether any electrical or plumbing work will be required.
- Complexity of design.
- Quality of materials being used.
- Your location.
Find a local carpenter
Ready to discuss your vision with a professional? Get quotes from local tradespeople and start unlocking the hidden space in your home.