Clever Ways To Repurpose Unused Under-Stairs Spaces

If you live in a multi-story or townhouse-style home, a large portion of the space in your entryway is likely occupied by a stairway. This is a necessary use of space, of course, as the top floors need to remain easily accessible. However, many home designs don't take full advantage of the available square footage underneath the stairs. According to data from Neighbor, 32% of Americans wish they had more space and 45% want their next home to be larger. For many, this is simply an issue of limited floor space, while for others, simple switches like capitalizing on the area under the stairwell can add a few extra square feet of space and make the overall home feel more functional and less cramped.

To help you capitalize on this often-forgotten space, we've listed some of our favorite ways to transform it, from installing simple storage solutions to more involved mini-rooms that can add a dose of extra fun to your home's design. The specifics of what you'll be able to accomplish in your own house are entirely dependent on the location of your stairs, how they're supported structurally, and the specifics of their design. But, with a bit of tinkering, you should be able to find a renovation idea that works for both your home's design and your family's lifestyle.

Convenient storage

When you think of making the most of forgotten space, the first thing that comes to mind is likely adding storage. It's a simple idea but popular for a reason. The area under the stairs is often an awkward size, but it can easily be filled with cleverly-cut cabinets that grant you access to all of that unused space. Stick with drawers that roll in and out if your stairs are a bit more squat, install a small closet in the taller areas, or create a combination of the two for the best of both worlds.

Glass divider

If you don't want the area under your stairs to feel closed off, consider adding a glass wall instead of the traditional drywall. This way, everything still feels separate from the living space, but there's no stark cutoff or stuffiness like there would be with a regular, opaque wall. Bring in a cozy chair and some shelves to use this mini room as a reading nook, install some storage and a wine fridge to make it a mini wine cellar, or add some hooks and a shoe rack to turn it into an elevated coat closet.

Office area

Working from home has become more popular than ever in recent years, but many people still lack a designated home office. If you're not able to sacrifice a whole room, no worries — just make the most of the area under your stairs. If this part of your home is deep enough to accommodate a floating shelf and a chair, you'll have a mini cubicle that can help you focus on work. Just make sure to add in a light source, as such a tiny niche can easily start to feel dark and claustrophobic rather than minimalistic and cozy.

Hidden mudroom or shoe storage

Mudrooms are one of the most convenient uses of space in the home, especially if you have members of your family who frequently find themselves tracking in dirt and mud, but they don't come with every design. If you find yourself in need of a landing place for all of those dirt-caked boots and dripping raincoats, consider adding a hidden mudroom under your stairs. You could add a closet for coats and a cabinet for shoes so you can hide away the mess. This may also decrease the amount of times you have to mop the floors after a heavy rainfall.

Reading nook

Having seating in the entryway is great because it gives you a spot to put on and take off shoes, set down bags, or hold items to grab on your way out the door. But, for the most part, these spots aren't usually the most comfortable to relax in. With this idea, however, that might all change. Consider carving out a space under your stairs to create a cozy reading nook, complete with shelves and plush pillows. You'll be able to use the space for two purposes: as a place to put on/take off shoes and a spot you'll actually use to kick back with a good book.

Designated pet area

If you love your furry friends like family, why not treat them like family, too? Go all out with your extra space under the stairs by creating a relaxing nook for your pet. This area is likely too short and angular to create a spacious area for people, but it's the perfect size for a pet bed, some food bowls, and even some additional toy storage. While it might seem a bit silly at first, this is a great way for pet owners to ensure their animals' necessities stay in one, easy-to-access spot.

Bar area

If your stairway is near where you frequently entertain and greet guests, turning the unused area underneath into a bar can instantly transform your home into the ultimate hangout spot. This area will be just as functional as a typical bar cart without taking up space when you're not mixing cocktails. Add a small bar with some counter space for cutting garnishes and setting down glasses, a couple of shelves for holding your favorite liquors and liqueurs, and, if you're feeling fancy, a mini fridge to keep your beer, mixers, and white wine chilled.

Firewood storage

If the area under your stairs is fairly open but you're just not quite sure what to use it for, those who have a fireplace could consider using it as a spot to hold their firewood. This might not be quite as functional year-round as something like a concealed mudroom or a reading nook, but it adds a lovely rustic touch to your interior that still serves a purpose during the colder parts of the year. Stack the logs organically to really lean into the cabin look, or invest in a storage rack to keep everything organized.

Closet homework station

Having a place for your kids to do their homework allows you to keep an eye on them and stay accessible if they have any questions. But, for some reason, it's not all that common to find a designated homework area in most homes. With this idea, however, you don't need to sacrifice an entire room to make that a reality. Simply modify an existing under-stair closet for this purpose by adding a desk and some seating. Once they're done with their work, you can close up the homework station to focus on family time and relaxation for the rest of the night.

Extra sleeping space

Sleeping under the stairs might sound like a distinctly "Harry Potter"-themed kind of torture, but, with this setup, your guests might be fighting for the space. A small mattress is a perfect addition to a nook under the stairs. And, when not used to sleep an extra visitor, it provides a great spot to relax that's more private than in the living room. While this isn't ideal for a year-round bedroom because of the overall lack of space and privacy, it's a great solution if you need an extra area for visitors (especially for young kids) and don't have a spare bedroom.

Keep it open

Sometimes, the best use of your space doesn't require any major renovation. If your under-stairs area is already open, consider bringing in something simple like a short chair and side table to ensure it doesn't feel too vacant. This way, you'll be able to enjoy the openness and breeziness of your existing entryway, but you'll also have an area that's cozy and functional. If your interior design style changes down the line, simply swap out the furniture rather than having to fully demo your last project.

Book storage

If you consider yourself an avid reader, you know that finding the space to store all of your favorite novels can be a challenge. Those who are willing to do a bit of renovations can turn the area under their stairs into a mini library. Keep the shelving straight for a classic look or mix and match different shapes for something a bit more dynamic and fun. If you're not the bookish type, these shelves present a great opportunity for you to display your favorite collections, whether you're fond of rare houseplants, detailed figurines, or shimmering crystals.

Laundry space

Finding space for a laundry setup isn't always easy. But, if you have the proper connections or are willing to undergo a more involved renovation, under the stairs is a great place for a washer and dryer that's both tucked away and accessible. Stack them if you have the available vertical room or install them side-by-side like you would in a typical laundry room. If your staircase is somewhere in the home that's front and center like the entryway, you can also easily install a sliding door to conceal these appliances when they're not in use.

Additional pantry space

In many homes, especially ones where the bedrooms are upstairs while the kitchen and living room are on the first floor, it's common to have your staircase practically in your kitchen. In a layout like this, there's no better use for this space than creating an additional pantry area. If it's close to the stove, use it to store spices or oils that you need easy access to while cooking. On the other hand, if it's on the other side of the room, use it to store snacks, pots and pans, or small appliances like blenders and waffle makers.

Half bathroom

Having one or two bathrooms near the bedrooms in your home is perfectly fine. However, if you have the opportunity, nothing beats the convenience of having a half bath in an area that's accessible to guests like under the stairs. This unique niche doesn't give you a lot of space to work with, but it's usually the perfect size for a simple sink and toilet setup. Situate the toilet so it's under the shorter part of the stairs, and you'll be able to utilize all of your available space in one of the most functional ways possible.