Under achieving

Harry Potter knows better than most people how annoying that space is under the stairs. It tricks you into thinking it will be useful storage space, but how do we utilise that space to our best advantage? I know my under stairs cupboard leaves something to be desired, but that’s probably because we treat it like it’s some kind of bottomless black hole. Anything that doesn’t appear to have a home goes under the stairs. It’s now so ridiculous that I couldn’t even tell you half the stuff that’s in there, let alone reach it. I can’t be the only one, so if you’re guilty of the same then read on.

Pull out drawers and cupboards

What strikes me in particular is that, for storage purposes, having a series of pull out units or cupboards is much more useful and manageable than one big cupboard. It’s so much easier to see what you have in there and you can easily access everything whilst making sure every inch of space is utilised.

These pull out units are perfect for shoe storage in this Brooklyn townhouse by Ben Herzog
Open shelves

Show off how cool you are by displaying your beautiful wares on open shelving. Intellectual books? The latest design and fashion magazines? Artefacts and treasures from your travels around the world? Your collection of aged balsamic vinegars? These all have a place on the side of your staircase. The douchier the better.

This only really works if you keep it quite neat, it’s as much a display as it is storage so don’t let it get cluttered. It’s best to keep the shelves shallow too as deep shelves are not useful and can be difficult to keep clean and tidy. Either use the space behind as a narrow storage cupboard or set the shelves back. Alternatively, mix up open shelves with small cupboards and drawers to store your more unsightly belongings.

Open shelves house a collection of interesting books on this contemporary staircase by ACRE Goods + Services
A cosy reading nook

Everyone loves a reading nook and the space under the stairs is perfect for this. You can while away the hours with your latest page turner in the cosy space and it adds interest to what may be an otherwise bare entrance hall or landing.

JWT Associates have designed this lovely little reading nook complete with wall light and book storage. I don’t know where that tiny door leads to but it’s so flippin’ cute!
A secret hideaway

What child (or adult, frankly) wouldn’t want a secret hideout under the stairs? The small space makes it ideal for little ones and it keeps messy toys out of sight. Decorate with bright colours and fill with beanbags and squishy cushions – they’ll never want to watch TV again!

A secret playroom is perfect for a double width staircase like this one by Von Fitz Design
Bar or coffee station

Now this is a seriously awesome idea. A bar or coffee station tucked under the stairs? Unexpected, functional and gives you serious bragging rights at your next party. This only really works if your staircase is part of a larger room and preferably one that you would use for entertaining. Plus, it offers extra storage if space is tight in your kitchen. I want a new house just so I can do this.

Beware – with this swanky bulthaup home bar by Kitchen Architecture, you might have trouble getting rid of your guests!
Laundry point

Laundry rooms are becoming increasing popular, probably influenced by the US where they take their laundry rooms very seriously. They find the idea of having a washing machine in the kitchen absurd. However, space is usually an issue and it can be hard to find a place to house a utility room without compromising on the size of other rooms.

Depending on where your staircase is, you might be able to utilise this area as a laundry station. It’s a great use of the space and gets it out of the way of the kitchen. You just need to make sure that you can get plumbing and ventilation to the area and also be wary that it may be noisy.

A washer and dryer have been cleverly tucked under this staircase by John Hannah Architectural Design & Rendering. And I love the little cubby hole for the cat!
Bike storage

I loved this idea when I came across it. What a great place to store your bike! There may not be a suitable area outside to keep it, plus it’s better for the bike and reduces the risk of it getting stolen (a big problem in Cambridge!) so what’s not to love?

Get yourself a CLUG – a teeny tiny bike clip that mounts to the wall, then hang your bikes with pride! No more squeezing past it and scratching up your walls. You do need one wheel resting on the floor though, so if you want something like the arrangement in the picture below then you’ll need a bike wall mount or hook.

Now isn’t this just a bit too cool? Designed by Nic Darling.
A mini office

If you’re after a little office space but don’t have a room you can use as a study then this could be your answer. The space is just big enough for a slim computer and a bit of storage if you don’t need a lot of desk space. Also, if your stairs are not part of a main room, then it should be a bit quieter than working in the living room with the ever present distraction of the TV.

You can also combine this idea with one of the others for the lower level space to use it as additional storage space.

A perfect space for a home office as demonstrated here by Risinger Homes. The lower level space has also been fitted with neat flush fitting cupboard doors for extra storage.

And finally…

Living quarters for a small unhappy wizard
The obvious choice for your under stairs space

So how do you use your under stairs space? Let me know if you have a clever idea of your own or if one of these has inspired you to revamp yours! Until next time…

J x

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