As everyone knows, the cupboard under the stairs can be very useful for accommodating unwanted wizard nephews. Most of us, though, just use that space for hanging coats, storing shoes and hiding the vac.
Have you ever looked at your understairs cupboard and thought that you could fit a lot more in, though? It’s an awkward shape, typically narrow with a slope that tapers off either to the side or the rear, depending on where the entrance is (and where your head seems to want to go). In an enclosed understairs cupboard, there’s a lot of vertical space that seems wasted, because installing shelves takes up too much of the available width. In an open understairs cupboard, there’s a lot of horizontal depth that’s wasted because it’s too deep to reach anything stored at the back.
Here are some of our understairs storage ideas that could help you make the most of the space available without banging your head (... still be careful, though!).
Open understairs storage ideas
If your staircase isn’t boxed in - which is typically the case if your staircase is within your living room, for example, rather than in a separate hallway - here are some understairs storage ideas that will look tidy and make good use of the space.
1. Storage bench
You could have this professionally fitted by a joiner, or you might be lucky with your measurements and be able to buy a storage bench with drawers to fit. You could buy seat pads or upholster some foam cut to size; add cushions to suit your decor and mind your head when you stand up!
2. Install shelves for a mini library
As well as being a great place to store your books, a mini library under your stairs would look amazing; add photo frames or potted plants to add a decorative touch.
3. Add stepped storage
Rectangular storage units will leave a lot of empty space at the short end of your staircase, but a stepped storage unit will fit beautifully. These ones from IKEA can be filled with boxes, cupboards with shelves, or drawers in a range of colours.
4. Understairs office
This might be a job for a joiner, to fit shelves and a desk, but depending on the dimensions of your space you might be able to find premade furniture that will fit nicely.
Enclosed understairs storage ideas
If your understairs area is boxed in, with a door leading into the space, your storage ideas can be more practical than presentable. The space is tighter, because you’ll need to squeeze into the space to access whatever you store in there, but you won’t have to worry about it looking a mess in your living room.
If your understairs cupboard is accessible from your kitchen, you could turn it into a pantry by fitting narrow shelves top to bottom. Store tins, drinks, bottles, and all kinds of dried food to save considerable space in your kitchen and be ready to sit out the zombie apocalypse or whatever the heck is coming next.
2. Shoe storage
Shoes are always a pain to store. Nobody ever puts them away properly, they get jumbled, pairs are separated and it’s a nuisance to root around for them. Let’s not pretend that when you get home from a long day at work you’ll put your shoes tidily away in their allocated box under the stairs. Instead, keep a small shoe storage box by your door, for the shoes you use most often, and use your understairs cupboard to store the rest of them.
Perhaps the best way to do this is to buy stackable shoe boxes that have see-through panels at the front, and open at the front rather than the top. Stack them on top of each other and pull out whichever pair of shoes you want that day. Your future self will be very grateful if you put them back in their box after you’ve finished wearing them.
3. Use the inside of your understairs cupboard door
Ironing boards can be screwed onto the inside of the door, so they take up very little space. You could also screw coathooks to the back of your door and use them to hang mops, dusters, brooms - pretty much anything with a loop that will fit over the coathook. You don’t need a drill or Rawl plugs or anything fancy, just fit screws (that are shorter than the thickness of your door…) with a screwdriver.
If your broom/mop etc doesn’t have a loop (so wouldn’t hook onto a coat hook), you could opt for a broom organiser that will hold anything with a stick in place.
4. Narrow trolleys on wheels
There’s little point storing something right at the back of the cupboard if you can’t then access it. Storage on wheels will let you bring whatever it is to you, rather than force you to lean over and try not to fall as you reach over for it.
Narrow storage trolleys are a great way to use the space in your understairs cupboard. Combine them with narrow shelves higher up, or hooks on the walls to hold coats and umbrellas, and you can store pretty much anything in there. Use the trolleys for shoes, bags, tools, cleaning supplies - whatever you need to store in there.
Hopefully, you’ll feel inspired to make the most of that space under your stairs and use it to its full potential!
If you need more space than you have under your stairs, consider self storage to create more space in your home and simplify your life.