Smart Stairs: Squeezing Space Out of Your Staircase

If you’re anything like me, you find home design and décor inspiration just about everywhere. It’s a fantastic feeling, I think, to be inspired…but sometimes translating that inspiration into reality can be a challenge.

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In this article, you will find a few inspirational photos of how some homeowners have maximized their staircase space (often, this is “dead space” in a home, but it doesn’t have to be!). Then, these over-the-top-awesome photos will be followed by some other (also great) ideas of how average people with average budgets and home/building constraints might translate the space-saving ideas on a smaller, perhaps more manageable scale. But still with style. I like to call this “Dreamy Inspiration vs. Real Implementation.”

Dreamy Inspiration 1:

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Those under-staircase angled roofs have, since the dawn of time (or, at least, the dawn of staircases) been a challenge to work with, but isn’t this idea extraordinary? Create shelves on the opposite side of each stair step, and you’ll have yourself 10+ extra storage shelves that require zero real estate! I love how these shelves serve as an almost library-esque backdrop to this reading nook.

Real Implementation 1:

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If your under-stairs area is open but, for whatever reason, constructing built-in step shelves isn’t in the cards, here is an easy (and budget-friendly) alternative. Simply build, or buy, “step” shelves to work under the triangular space. Although this does require some square footage, it’s only taking up awkward and hard-to-style space anyway…and doing it with style and grace.

Dreamy Inspiration 2:

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Built-in drawers under the stairs, definitely a smart use of space. This not only looks great, but imagine all the extra storage here! Linens, shoes, sports equipment, games, the list of possibilities is endless. I like how this idea could work as well in a central part of the house (even in an entryway) as in the basement.

Real Implementation 2:

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If under-stair drawers are completely out of the realm of possibility, consider looking toward the other side of the staircase for your storage solutions. Installing built-in shelves on the actual staircase wall (assuming your stairs are wide enough) is a fairly straight-forward DIY with loads of storage potential.

Dreamy Inspiration 3:

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If your staircase has a landing, consider turning that perfect square footage into an “underground” storage box! Great for extra pillows, blankets, seasonal wear…whatever. I think this idea is fantastic, although I imagine few of us have the setup that would make incorporating this smart space possible.

Real Implementation 3:

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Whether or not your stairs have a landing, consider mounting a style-friendly storage unit on a nearby wall. At the base of this staircase, this wooden shelving piece is useful (think seasonal wear, such as mittens and scarves in winter, skates and sunglasses in summer) and aesthetic.

Dreamy Inspiration 4:

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Of course, who wouldn’t love a built-in mudroom under the stairs? It’s organized, it’s functional, and it’s visually endearing. Even in a space adjacent to a more formal living room, this is an excellent idea.

Real Implementation 4:

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Don’t have time, or room, for a built-in bench and coat hangers? Then mount some cute hooks on the wall and some wire baskets on a few shelves, and you’re golden. Done in an afternoon. I, for one, am in LOVE with this idea. Especially for a basement stairway.

Dreamy Inspiration 5:

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Ooh, I do love the coziness of a little special space. This office nook under the stairs is so chic and modern, even with the rustic wood paneling. With the wall that seamlessly “turns into” a desk, this idea was definitely planned from the beginning of construction, and it’s utterly inspiring.

Real Implementation 5:

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If your staircase is already built, though, and you’re left scratching your head to figure out how to maximize the leftover space, never fear! Find a small table, a lamp, and a chair, put them all under the stairs, and throw in a few pieces of art or framed photographs. Bam. Home office under the stairs. Your space never was smarter.