Inventive ways to use that wasted space under your stairs | homify

Inventive ways to use that wasted space under your stairs

Leigh Leigh
Shawfield Street Ardesia Design Study/office
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Harry Potter may have lived in the cupboard under the stairs but there are far better and more creative ways to make use of the space. Leave the spiders, broomsticks and cloaks for the fairy tales and stick to the designer interior style pages that your home deserves.

In an era where space often needs to be saved and utilised, the space under the stairs is just as important as any room or area. With a bit of light, colour and style, it can become just about anything—from a cupboard to an extra toilet. 

The trick when it comes to the space under the stairs is to use whatever space there is wisely and creatively. You don't want a crammed area that looks messy or untidy or to disrupt the flow and design of the rest of the house.  

Follow these easy tips for inventive ways to use the space under your stairs.

Steps can become bookselves

Steps in a home don't have to be the boring, tedious things that the family climb up and down everyday. Steps can be the platform for the most beautiful design elements of a home. 

Steps can become bookshelves in a variety of ways. A bookshelf can form part of the actual staircase itself or fit in underneath the staircase, creating volume and depth in the home. In this photograph, you can see how these gorgeous, wooden floating stairs work with wooden shelves that run alongside them. They add colour and texture to the otherwise plain wooden pieces. Accessories and ornaments can also be used on bookshelves to break up the monotony of the books.

Bookshelf steps also add a casual element to a house, adding funky colours and trendy style to the interior design without having to spend a fortune on accessories or décor items. 

Experiment with different books, positions and styles for the most creative step bookshelf.

Small home office/study

Shawfield Street Ardesia Design Study/office
Ardesia Design

Shawfield Street

Ardesia Design

The space under the stairs is often the perfect nook for a small office area or study. Think cosy, neat and compact. Fit a desk under the stairs and float shelves above it, if need be to create more space for books, files and stationery.

This is also the opportunity to add some colour and style to the space under the stairs. Opt for a modern, neutral coloured desk and pair it with a bright, colourful chair. Wooden desks or white wood are a good option. Use wall art or funky wallpaper to decorate the wall space above the desk. See this range of artistic wall art and decor.

Accessorise with a modern lamp and a sleek desktop and the perfect home office is waiting just under the stairs.  

A great tip is to use storage space such as drawers within the desk wisely. The space underneath stairs is often small and limited so avoiding clutter and mess is important. 

Zen garden

A Zen garden is the most beautiful addition to a home, adding peace, tranquility and a touch of nature to the interior. Utilising the space under the stairs for a Zen garden is a wonderful idea and the perfect spot for this feature.

This Zen garden, designed by Portuguese Interior Landscape Designers HC Interiorers, is a great example of this contemporary feature where stones, trees and lanterns are used to create a modern, trendy filler for under the stairs. You don't have to imitate this one, however. Use sand instead of stones, add more trees or include a little statue or sculpture.

Some designers choose to go all out with this concept, incorporating Koi fish ponds, larger boulders and enhancing lights. Choose what works for your home and your style.

Japanese gardens are based on the premise of combining natural elements to create a place of Zen or a place of meditation. This is a design feature that has worked for hundreds and hundreds of years. 

Cool storage

In modern homes, space is often a limiting factor when it comes to furniture, clothes, books and accessories. Where to put them all?

The space under the stairs is the perfect place to store extra goods, tucking them away out of sight. Have funky shelves designed, with or without cupboard doors. Large, trendy drawers can also be inserted into the spaces under the stairs. Even a bookshelf serves as a perfect storage unit under the stairs.

This gorgeous storage space by French Interior Architects Atelier FB shows how perfectly shelves can be slotted in underneath the stairs, storing everything from coats to handbags to shoes. 

If there are no doors on the cupboards or storage space under the stairs, keep it neat and bright with accessories and storage containers.


A toilet slotted under the space of stairs is one of the most functional ways to make use of this area. 

The expertise of an architect is needed here to judge the size available for a toilet space. The chances are that the space will be small so it certainly won't be the largest toilet in the house. That being said, an extra toilet in the downstairs area of a house is a very useful feature. It provides a guest bathroom for visitors, who won't need to go upstairs every time they need to use the toilet. For a double-storey home, this is a must.

Design elements will need to be incorporated to make the toilet look bigger and lighter. Opt for white, beige and cream as well as soft, down lights to open the room up. Don't clutter it with too many accessories and keep the magazines to a minimum. 

Art display

The space under the stairs is also a wonderful place for a beautiful art display. Anything from pot plants to sculptures fit into this spot, adding a stylish twist to the usual, plain staircase.

To decide what art display to use, work with the decor used throughout the rest of the house. Bring through the same colours, tones and themes. In this photo, notice how Interior Architects Mariangel Coghlan have used three, large, grey pots to add height and volume to the space below the stairs. 

Paintings, sculptures and mirrors also give the same effect, brightening up the house and the space beneath the stairs.

There is no need to end up with empty nooks and awkward spaces that you don't know what to do with, especially in homes where space is limited. Find the perfect fitting furniture and accessories and pair it with personal taste and style. 

What else have you used the space under the stairs for?

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