Under Stair Cabinet:
Potter's Realm: The Under-stair Space
area under the stairs is often neglected. Once you recognize its potential, however,
you can transform it in a variety of ways. With a little thought you could turn
it into an efficient storage area, designed around your particular needs; or you
could open it up into a room or hallway, thus increasing available space and giving
your home a more open-plan feel.
on the pitch of the stairs, there may be enough room at one end to stand, in which
case the space can be put to many uses. If the water supply and drain lines are
close, you could install a shower or toilet, or even turn the area into a mini-utility
room, fitted with a washing machine and dryer.
you decide to use the space, aim to unify it with the surrounding decor by painting
it in the same colors or papering it in similar wallpaper. Continue the existing
floor covering, if possible, or keep closely to its tone and style, even if you
are using the space for storage. That way the newly converted area looks a planned
part of your home, rather than an afterthought.
up the Space
ease with which you can open up the area under the stairs depends on the type
of staircase and its position in the house. In many instances the space under
the staircase is already enclosed by paneling and opening it up simply involves
removing the wood panels. Before you start though, it is important to assess the
construction of your staircase.
simplest type of staircase - a straight staircase supported at the top against
a wall - is the easiest to open up because the timbers under the stair serve only
to support the paneling. A straight staircase between two side walls (with access
to the space from an adjoining room) is the most difficult to open up as both
walls are likely to be load bearing. In this situation you need professional advice
and help, and perhaps a building permit, before you can remove the walls.
quarter-turn, half-turn, and some straight staircases that extend onto a landing,
the top of the stairs and intermediate landings are supported by a large timber
post called a newel. You can easily identify it because it is much bigger than
the timbers that support the understair area, and usually lines up with the corner
post of the stairs above.
should never remove a newel post without consulting an architect or builder first,
as it is a complicated structural conversion that may require a building permit.
If you do go ahead and remove it without professional advice, the stairs above
could fall down on you. However, you can remove the paneling which screens off
the area under the stairs without any fear of collapse, and then plan how you
use the space around the newel post.
you have a fairly large space and lots of books and magazines, how about setting
up a mini-library? Line the walls under the stairs with shelves - adjustable ones
are a good idea, allowing you to vary and alter the spacing to store all sizes
of books and magazines. Painting the shelves to match the baseboard and other
moldings gives the space an integrated feel. Use recessed spotlights or angled
floor lamps to illuminate the books as well as to provide reading light. For a
really high-tech touch, fix up strip lighting on the shelves themselves to highlight
space permits, add a comfortable chair, looking out into the room or hall. The
stairs themselves often protect the space underneath from drafts, making it a
cozy place to sit and browse through the books.
don't need much room for a compact home office. Install a desk or fitted work
surface with roll-out filing cabinets or a stack of baskets underneath. Fix shelves
to the walls above the desk and add a swivel chair on castors. Provide a telephone
jack and power outlets for electronic equipment. Multi-purpose office machines,
such as a combination phone, fax, and answering machine, fit into some remarkably
lighting is essential, especially if you sit with your back to the natural light
source. Wall-mounted bracket lighting may be more practical than a desk lamp,
which takes up some of the valuable, but limited, space on your work surface.
up a private telephone area under the stairs. All you need is a phone and phone
jack, a comfortable chair, and a telephone table - use one with a shelf or drawer
underneath for message pads, pens, and telephone books. A wall-mounted adjustable
spotlight or torchere with a dimmer switch gives you enough light to read phone
numbers, but allows you to dim the lights to a pleasant glow for a chat to family
under-stair spaces fitted with shelves are ideal for displaying collections of
attractive objects, such as glass or china. Put up open shelving or place precious
collections behind glass. It is also a good place to display collections of watercolors,
delicate needlework or fabrics because they are usually protected from damaging
exposure to direct sunlight.
may decide to close in the space under the stairs instead. Using wooden panels,
tongue-and-groove boards, or sheets of plywood effectively creates a useful storage
closet. If you equip the area with plenty of hooks and shelves, you can store
a large quantity of household paraphernalia away under there. For easy access,
fit a full-size, outward-opening door a little away from the end wall, so that
you can put shelves behind the door as well. Make sure that the space is adequately
lit, locating the light switch by the door.
space: You may even be able to keep large kitchen appliances, like a freezer,
tumble dryer, or washing machine under the stairs. Check out the practicalities
of installing power outlets and plumbing first, of course. Also ensure that you
can comply with the regulations for adequate ventilation in windowless spaces
by installing a ventilating kit for the dryer and an exhaust fan to the outside.
space: In many homes, there is enough room to add a toilet or mini-shower room
under the stairs, as long as it is practicable to supply power outlets, plumbing,
and ventilation. Consult a plumber for professional advice and be sure to get
a quote for the work before embarking on the conversion.
Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties
and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.