Multi-level homes offer lots of comfortable living space, but they can also create obstacles when it comes to accessibility. Staircases tend to be narrow and indirect, which makes storing and relocating your belongings impractical. A keen eye for design, however, will allow you to work out ways around these difficulties. By making better use of the area surrounding your home’s stairways, or by repurposing the stairways themselves, you can free up valuable space while also enhancing the visual presentation of a room.
EditCreating Built-In Storage
- Upgrade to stair drawers. Turn individual steps into hidden caches by replacing your staircase’s basic paneling with oversized slide-out drawers. Stair drawers are perfect for when you want to get everyday items out of the way but still keep them close at hand. Use your stair drawers to stash things like shoes, sporting equipment, pet supplies and household tools.
- Stair drawers have gained popularity as a creative storage solution, and can be installed in homes of almost any size.
- Each drawer is the length and width of one step, giving you tons of bonus space that was formerly off-limits.
- Put in handy wall shelving. Build into the flat, blank wall lining a small stairwell and use it to mount sturdy shelves of various sizes. Now you’ll have a dedicated place for books, trinkets and family photos that won’t take up any additional room around your home.
- Have the shelves cut and arranged to your own specifications to create wall storage that matches your needs.
- Invest in custom cabinets. With little difficulty, you can convert a section of the wall or an unused alcove at the top of the stairs to a convenient built-in cabinet. Integrated cabinets fulfill the same function as shelves, but give you more options in how to store and display your belongings.
- Have wall cabinets designed to blend in with the area around them.
- Cabinets can act as all-purpose storage or be based around a specific theme, such as preserving mementos from your wedding.
EditSetting Up Under the Stairs
- Increase your closet space. Most newer homes are designed to include some kind of coat closet beneath the main staircase. If your home is lacking this feature, it may be just what you need to reduce clutter and maximize your storage potential. These types of closets don’t even have to be very big—with just a few square feet, you’ll have more than enough room to stow a card table, backup toiletries or some unwieldy cleaning supplies.
- Use extra closet space to supplement your wardrobe or keep accessories like shoes, hats, belts and ties organized.
- If you like to cook, closets near the kitchen can function as storerooms for dry ingredients and utensils.
- Set up a modest study. Make the most of a deep recess or the area under a flight of floating stairs by moving in a desk and a few other compact pieces for a basic home office setup. This will give you an out-of-the-way place to pay bills, read over work-related documents or do homework. Don’t forget to include a lamp, desktop organizer and a charging station for your laptop or phone.
- Lay out a futon and some pillows to create a cozy reading nook.
- Hang a memo board, calendar or set of filing trays on the walls of an alcove.
- Add onto the room. You can usually extend a given room by three to four feet by opening up the area below a staircase. That’s enough territory to set up a drafting table or put in a mini bar. By using every available inch of the room, you’ll be able to free up useful storage space elsewhere.
- Transform a few extra feet of floor space into a pet area, complete with beds, toys and food and water dishes.
- A vanity mirror and narrow countertop can serve as a quaint powder room.
- Create a tasteful art display. Even if you can’t cram in a whole lot, you can still reinvent a small space to enhance the look of your home. A single shelf and some under-glow lights are enough to elegantly highlight that prized painting you bought at auction that’s been sitting around in a closet collecting dust. You and your guests will be able to stop and appreciate a moment of beauty each time you change levels.
- The gallery feel makes a sophisticated touch for contemporary homes, especially those that are leased as rentals.
- Display your cherished awards, trophies and medals in a glass-front display case.
- Make room for your appliances. For people living in studio apartments or townhouses where square footage comes at a premium, designating the empty spot under the stairs as the new coffee bar or laundry facility is just good sense. It could also make a great place for a second refrigerator, exercise bike or even the TV, if your staircase is situated in the center of the living room.
- If you work from home, you could set up your printer, copier and scanner.
- Make sure you have access to the necessary outlets before moving cumbersome appliances into place.
EditUtilizing Nearby Space
- Take advantage of nooks and landings. Some staircases are plagued by too much awkward negative space. Turn a negative into a positive by filling these spaces with freestanding cabinets, trunks or cubbies that can house clutter. Every corner presents a possibility.
- Tall, vertical cabinets can be just the right size to position around cramped stairways.
- Go shopping for attractive storage containers that suit your home’s design sensibilities.
- Provide multifunctional seating. Place a bench at the top or foot of the stairs to give weary house guests somewhere to sit. Reserve enough room beneath the bench to slide in a few separate containers for boots, jackets, scarves and other items that people tend to discard when they first come in. Alternatively, you could accompany smaller seats with end tables that provide a place to lay wallets, keys, papers and other paraphernalia.
- Look for settees, ottomans and similar pieces that double as storage compartments.
- Combining your seating and storage will also help you keep up with everyone’s individual belongings.
- Place a shoe rack near the door. There’s no need to make extensive renovations to your home in order to seize on smart storage opportunities. Footwear can be tucked away in a minimalistic shoe rack or cubby right in the foyer, where they’ll remain neat and orderly rather than accumulating in the living room or muddying up the kitchen.
- Establish a new house rule that dirty shoes must be removed and put away upon entry.
- If you have pets, put the rack above floor level to keep shoes out of reach.
- Mount elevating wall racks. Imagine waking up in the morning and having your coat, purse, umbrella and car keys all held out to you on your way down the stairs. You can make it a reality by putting up a series of hooks and hangers at various heights on the wall alongside the main staircase. Mounted racks are inexpensive, unobtrusive and allow you to keep all your most frequently reached-for items together in plain sight.
- Hang a separate rack for each member of the household so that everyone has a place to put their things.
- One of the biggest impediments to sensible storage is simply having too much stuff. Start by getting rid of everything you don’t need, then work on finding the best spot for what remains.
- Come up with a definite vision and set an approximate budget for involved building and renovation projects.
- Mix and match different storage solutions for maximum efficiency. For example, you could install built-in stair drawers for holding shoes and also mount hooks along the wall to hang jackets and accessories.
- Once you’ve increased your stairway storage, come up with a system for organizing items in the new space.
- Save money on new storage containers by finding inventive uses for old, unused pieces. Get creative!
EditThings You’ll Need
- Office supplies
- Art for display
- Storage containers of various sizes and styles
- Seating with built-in storage
- Shoe rack
- Wall-mounted racks and hangers