When home owners think about updating their stairs and hallway, they tend to focus only on tasks such as replacing the stair balustrade, handrails, spindles and newels for a fresh new look. But there is so much more that can be done to improve this area, especially if you are short of storage.
One possible solution could be staring us right in the face – the space under the stairs. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most out of this all-too-often neglected resource:
How often have your kids complained that they have nowhere to play? Children love hidden nooks and crannies, so converting the cupboard under the stairs can be a great alternative to an outdoor play house – especially in winter.
If possible, cut windows and a doorway into the side panels of the staircase. This will allow light in and stop the den feeling claustrophobic. Strips of leftover curtain material stapled to the windows make a nice homely touch.
Use a beanbag or some large cushions to create a comfy seating area. Finally, encourage your little ones to personalise their new hideaway with some books, toys and, if there is room, a small desk for drawing or writing.
If you’re tired of having to pick your way over discarded bags and coats in the hallway when you get home, think about converting the area under your staircase into a cloakroom.
Even if there’s only a shallow nook, it’s usually sufficient for a few cubby holes with hooks for hats, umbrellas and coats. Try adding some wicker baskets underneath for small items such as scarves, gloves and key rings – you’ll find it so much easier to keep everything tidy.
If the whole area under the stairs is accessible, consider turning it into a clothes cupboard. Just fit some shelves and hanging rails round the edge to provide useful storage for seasonal clothing, and free up space in your bedroom wardrobe at the same time. This is also a great place to store boots, trainers, gym kits, golf clubs, tennis racquets and ski equipment.
As the modern trend for open plan living grows ever more popular, many people have removed the cupboard under the stairs and replaced it with an office or study area.
The neatest way of doing this is to have custom-made shelves and a desk unit fitted. However, if your budget is modest, or you don’t want to commit to a permanent office, you can simply install a free-standing desk and some shelving units.
Fitting an additional toilet or shower will ease pressure on the family bathroom and is particularly useful if you have small children or elderly relatives living with you. If done well, it should also increase the resale value of your property.
Headroom can be problem, so take accurate measurements to ensure people will have enough room to stand upright. You may also want to consider installing a special sanitary pump if the pipes cannot be connected directly to the main waste system.
The great thing about shelves is their versatility – you can find ones to fit into almost type of space. Fitting a tailor-made shelving unit under the stairs will allow you to make the most of the space. You will be able to display all your best photos, ornaments, CDs and books that might otherwise be boxed away – and to show off your favourite items, you could even fit some strategically placed backlights.
If you have too many books you could make a miniature library by fitting some shelves under the stairs. Just add an armchair, reading lamp and coffee table, and you’re all set for some quality ‘me’ time.