That space under the stairs

October 14, 2013

You may have noticed that I stalled out on the house purge I started a few months ago. I was on a roll for a while and then I just couldn’t go through one. more. drawer. There’s only so much of it I enjoy and then I need do other stuff for awhile.

But I’m BACK! I finished the kitchen (including the pantry, scary!) and then moved on to the basement. This space is going to be cake compared to years past when it was unfinished. Shudder. But so far I’ve only worked on spaces you can’t even see – closet and storage spaces.

I’m SO EXCITED about a change I made to the area behind this door:

black interior doors

So. This is the storage space under the stairs. When we started finishing the basement early last year one of the first steps was to move all of the Christmas stuff into this spot. Early this year I majorly purged my holiday decor and made it so we had even more floor space for vacuums and such.

I have a LOT of Christmas decor. I love it but sometimes just want to get rid of half of it. But I do write this thing called a blog, and my son is still young and very much into holiday decorating. I figure in just a few years I’ll be begging him to help with decor so for now I deal with the bins and don’t sweat it. In no time at all we won’t use half of it and I’ll be wanting these days back. :)

Well, I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like till about March I’ll find little bits of Christmas around the house. And because I’m lazy busy I just throw them on top of the bins instead of putting them away. So the Christmas closet became this:

Christmas storage

Earlier this year I took some advice from my friend Carmen and took some of the items out of the bins and hung them instead. (Check out her awesome holiday closet here!) It did help – I hung some of the bulky greenery up on hooks and ended up getting rid of a ton of bins between this and purging.

But it wasn’t enough. It still became a mess because of my laziness being busy and all:

So fast forward to some progress in the basement that happened last week – we had the cabinets for the kitchenette installed:

basement kitchenette

More glorious storage! Whoot! I’m still not sure if we’ll do small uppers or not. Next up I need to buy and install the countertop and sink and then trim out and paint the cabinets. Even with all that still left to do I’ve already started filling them. ;)

And not even two minutes after they were installed I stood there and realized I had completely spaced it – my plan for years (YEARS!) has been very specific for this space – I had planned on a regular cabinet (for the sink) and then an under cabinet fridge with a smaller cabinet on the side.

Well I totally, completely, just plain forgot, about the fridge. I’m getting old remember? Argh. There wasn’t much we could do about it either – we couldn’t return the cabinet that had already been installed.

So, I had to come up with a new solution. Our dream has always been to have a fridge down here, for snacks and drinks during movies, or for hubs to grab while he’s working (his office is down there). So I got to thinking about that messy closet – and came up with a new idea for the space.

And after hours of cleaning out the garage and moving stuff around and dragging a LOT of bins up and cleaning of the storage area, I ended up with this:

kitchenette under stairs

There’s a bonus to my mix up – to install a fridge under a counter you need to get a a specific one that vents out the front, and those are not cheap. The least expensive one I’ve found is $400-something at Home Depot. And the more I thought about it, I knew we’d want a fridge for more than just drinks (the version at HD was just for beverages). This one is just a standard mini fridge ($100-something instead) with space for food too. And a freezer!


Awwww yeah.

This closet is actually nearly 50 square feet of storage space – and I LOATHE wasted space, so I wanted to make it even more functional. I picked up a couple super cheap bookcases ($17 each) and put them inside as well:

using space under the stairs

Our built ins in the family room down there are awesome but not wide enough for games, so this is a perfect solution. Now all the games are in one spot and easier to find (I had them in a dresser before).

There’s still a few things I’d like to do – I still need to get an outlet installed in here (I have the fridge plugged into a heavy duty extension cord now but hope to have the outlet installed this week).

And I still feel like the vertical space is wasted – so my plan is to stack the bookcases (securing them to the wall of course) where the fridge is now, then placing that off to the left. I’ll have room for a little cart or something next to it to hold plates and such. I won’t be able to move stuff around till I get the outlet installed.

That way the fridge will have even more room to breathe in there – it’s got more than enough clearance around it now but it will have more moved over (with the open space behind it).

I did my research before moving the fridge in this space – make sure you do the same before doing something similar. It’s a large closet and we don’t keep clothes in here obviously (not a good idea near a fridge). You want to make sure there’s enough breathing room around it. (I asked numerous electrician friends/my dad and all said it was fine.)

Eventually the microwave will go out the kitchenette, but for now it will stay in here. This is like a new room in our house! The Bub and I were SO excited about it last night, we may have made some pizza rolls to celebrate. :)

Check out the before and after:

using space under stairs

See why my back hurts now? I think I moved about 12 bins up. We don’t have quite enough room for one more big one in the garage so it’s still back there in the closet. (We have a door in hubby’s office to access that side.)

I’ll show you the garage organization soon – that space is still a pit and next on my list after the house is decluttered. One step at a time.

Do you have a little storage space like this under your stairs? I always think of all the possibilities – a wine cellar, a hide out for the kids, bookcases – all of it sounds awesome to me. Now ours is a bit of Christmas/storage/game/kitchenette room. Love. What do you do with yours?

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  1. we do have one it is long and narrow - not much room for anything to be honest. but lately I've been thinking of installing hooks and hanging all my wreaths, door & wall hangings for outside in there. my wreaths get all smashed no matter how I package them every season. I suppose its because I like the huge fluffy ones they don't fit in the wreath totes and the cardboard boxes just don't protect. I luv your usage of the space!

  2. We do have a space like yours. Our stairs are U shaped. Ours are a mess. We have toys of the kids when they were little we want to save. A box each of clothes of theirs (keepsakes), luggage among other things. I wish it was more organized. But I don't have anywhere to put that stuff. Our storage room is really small. I have all of our Christmas stuff and the other holiday decor in there, a fridge, wrapping paper, seasonal dishes, my son's art stuff and games. I need to clean the stairs area, storage and mechanical room. (Mech. room is full of my FIL's things from when he passed away that my hubby just can't deal with right now).

  3. Fabulous storage, love your solutions. Hugs, Marty

  4. Our space under the stairs is unfortunately the next set of stairs going down to the basement. Our basement is like yours was, unfinished and a mess of boxes and bags. Sigh. One day.

  5. What a great storage solution! I love how you found a place for your refrigerator in there too. :)

  6. so much better, Mine is still a storage pile. :-)

  7. I have a great space under the stairs but the hot water heater is in the way. I have to sneak by it to store holiday stuff, massage table and other stuff. One day I'll build shelves and have it better organized.

  8. We have the exact same space at our house, and big surprise, we use ours for Christmas tree decorations as well. And, it's a total mess at the moment! Love how you reorganized & used your space.

  9. Looks great, that inspires me to rethink so of my "hidden gems" those little places one never shares on the home tour.. Thanks for that.. :)

    1. Rhonda I think those are some of my favorite spaces in a house! :)

  10. So all the Christmas stuff went to the garage??

  11. I love how you redid that space! You are thrifty but also very "handy" good job!

  12. I have the same closet under my stairs and it looks identical to your before picture. I organize it like a champ every year or two and then I gets wrecked all over again because I just throw things in there. I guess I'm "busy" too. ;)

  13. The previous owners installed shelving along all the walls in the space under my stairs, and since I have a small, galley kitchen, I use the space to store little-used appliances, baking pans and as a pantry.

  14. So glad my storage under the stairs isn't the only one that is a mess, oh wait yours isn't a mess now! Great idea! Don't make it too nice down there you're never going to get your hubby and your son upstairs again ohhh wait that might not be bad! But seriously looking good!!

  15. Looks great. My pantry is in the closet under my stairs. I have built-in shelves on both sides for all of my canned goods, cereal, etc. The part towards the back is where I put all my kitchen stuff that doesn't get used often. I hate wasted space as well and make use of every nook and cranny.

  16. We have a closet under our stairs and I can not stand it, I can never figure out how to organize it. I like the bookshelves in there though. Right now my Mom is temporarily living here ( her house should be build in the late spring) so she is using it for her own storage. I am sort of relieved as it is off the table for organizing!

    I was on a major organizing/get rid of clutter kick until I tore my meniscus. I guess it will be continued until after the surgery!

  17. Woohoo - looks so great! I love using every square inch of our house. I'm still crazy for your doors too - someday I'll get around to painting ours too.

  18. We have a space under our stairs similar to yours except our door is on the end of the space rather than the side. Does that make sense? I have two metal shelving units on one side. The taller shelf had cleaning supplies on the top shelf, kids board games on the next shelf, my shoes on the next, and my husbands shoes on the bottom shelf. The next shelving unit is shorter with 3 shelves. Each of the kids have an aassigned shelf for their shoes. The opposite wall has nails that I use to hang my swifter, broom, and dog leash. Our vaccuum also sits at the back of the closet. It works great, plenty of room to walk in and find what you need.

  19. When we had our basement finished, I had the builder frame out this space so the closet would be deeper. I have a light and electrical in there and keep all our holiday platters, bowls, glassware etc., in there as well as large lobster pots and crock pots. We call it our "Harry Potter Closet" !

  20. I love your blog. You are not only crafty but you are gifted with let's say "thrifty" abilites. I am learning from you. THanks for sharing. Keep up the great job. Just wanted to pat you on the back. You deserve it. Now, let me get back to learning more from you. Have a great day.

  21. Our spot under the stairs is our kitchen pantry. It's pretty great for storing more than just food. What I didn't realize when we bought the house was that it doesn't have a coat know, where the vacuum cleaner goes!? So, the vacuum and broom and mop is in the pantry. Good thing it's big. :) Wish I had something more than just a coat rack by the door for coats, though. LOVE what you did with your space.

  22. Not sure if this would work or not, but have you ever thought of framing in a hole for the fridge beside the closet door. This would give the fridge a built in appearance, but it would still have lots of room to vent into the closet. Love your blog

  23. Not sure if this would work or not, but have you ever thought of framing in a hole for the fridge beside the closet door. This would give the fridge a built in appearance, but it would still have lots of room to vent into the closet. Love your blog

  24. I would love to take the space under our stairs and make a play house - the grandkids would love it, and I like the idea of utilizing that space better than just storing boxes. Don' tyo ujust love cleaning out and updating or using the space better?


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