12 Storage Ideas for Under Stairs

by Grace Bonney

This weekend we visited the new (but very old) home of friends of ours who previously lived in Brooklyn. They took the leap and bought a beautiful home from the 1850s and are now in the process of planning their full list of “to-dos” at home, from big to small.

One of my favorite features of their home is a grand staircase right past the front door that has some awkward storage space underneath. Most people would probably stick a coat rack there and call it a day (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that), but this little space felt rife with potential for something really special. I immediately started sketching custom-built cabinetry and hidden storage in my head, so I ran home and started this roundup for them to get the ideas flowing. They certainly aren’t the only ones who could benefit from a little creative under-stair storage (it’s a great place to hide cat litter boxes!), so I threw in one of my favorite hidden cat spots, too! xo, grace

It has always been my dream to have hidden storage like this. It feels like a secret doorway, but it's actually just a neat and tidy way to organize everything from hats, coats and gloves to pantry goods. This sort of design requires some custom carpentry, but it's a feature that makes a home feel special and well thought-out. Design and photo by .
Not all under-stair storage has to be custom or built-in. Pre-made book shelves are a great solution if you're a renter or just don't want to invest the time or money in something custom-made. Image from Kelli and Sam Larson's home tour on DS.
This is one of my favorite projects/ideas we've EVER run on DS, and it involves an ingenious way to hide the one thing every cat owner both needs and hates: a litter box. Douglas Riccardi cleverly hid his cat's litter box under the stairs (along with some other storage) using a little curtain. See the full home tour here.
If you're going super modern and have some time to plan before you build, something dramatic like this is a great way to both store AND showcase beloved books, kitchenware, serving pieces or everyday odds and ends. Image via .
Looking for something more traditional? A mix of open storage cubby holes lets you both hang and stack everything you need for day-to-day life. Image via .
If you don't want to go overboard with custom woodworking, you can easily create a little hidden closet where you install store-bought shelves, but still keep things hidden with a door that closes to conceal any clutter. Bonus points for any cute puppies involved. Image via .
If you like the look of tiered shelving that mimics the lines of your staircase, but don't want to do built-ins, you can try this idea! Halligan and Adam cut short, pre-made shelves to hang on the outside of their staircase. See the rest of their home here.
If your staircase faces into your sitting or living room, it can be a great place to hide everyday electronics like speakers, TVs and video games. Just be sure to consult with an electrician before building to make sure you can safely house (and cool) all the wires inside. Image via .
Want room for your bikes? Install hanging racks under the stairs and you've got a smart way to store your wheels while keeping them out of the way. Image via .
Paneling can be a great way to disguise any hidden storage under your stairs. I love the way these horizontal lines echo the direction of the stairs. Image via .
Want to close off your space without putting in a lot of fancy cabinetry? Just throw in an angled door with a great handle like this one. Image via .
I love the mix of open and closed space here -- and the molding detailing makes it feel like a high-end bit of custom work. Image via .
If you're like me and tend to pile up "need-to-read" books and magazines by the front door where the mail falls, this mix of closed (great for shoes and rain gear) and open storage is a fun way to use a small and awkward area and change it into something highly functional. Image by .
Slide-out doors can also reveal hidden closet space if you include racks for clothing and accessories. This idea is so clever and minimal -- and the oversized exterior knobs can double as hooks for coats and bags. Image via

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