Fab space-saving ideas

I rarely hear clients complain they have too much storage space in their house; what we all wouldn't give for a little extra in our homes.

Cue the often-forgotten space under the stairs: typically it's gyprocked and then filled with suitcases and Christmas decorations, not exactly savvy or highly functional.

No matter the size of your home, every little inch counts. Here are five of my favourite chic and clever storage solution ideas for that prime floor space beneath the stairs...

Wine and wet bar

  • You don't need a separate room dedicated for your wine collection (although wouldn't one be amazing), when that patch of empty space will do just fine. Granted, temperature and humidity control isn't feasible for the advanced connoisseur, a sharp looking, under-the-stairs display will wow your friends and guests all the same.
  • Some clients aren't fans of the sit-up wet bar, but still like to entertain and need counter space, storage, and a small wine fridge to house glassware and drinks. Run lower cabinetry along the wall and install a floating shelf above to display glasses, bowls, and other decorative items.

Powder room

  • Unless your staircase is right off of the kitchen or dining room, adding a small washroom down the hall or adjacent an upper landing can be perfect for larger families (no line ups), homes without a mudroom or space to wash up in, or simply for those in need of a smaller-sized water closet.
  • Pedestal or wall-mounted sinks are best and will keep the tiny space feeling as large as possible. Bright, but dimmable lighting is essential to also keep the space well-lit and airy.
  • If you have a traditional staircase with paneling or molding you can run the same trim and treatment over the door so it blends seamlessly into the mix.

Home office

  • It doesn't need to be flashy. A simple work surface, bank of drawers or rolling storage cubby, and a few shelves for magazine holders, baskets, bins, and some personal mementos for effect will do the trick.
  • Some pre-planning is required if you're in the process of or thinking of building, so that extra bracing, wires, and cables can be run and concealed in the drywall.
  • If your space is already finished, tuck cables and cords up along the underside of your counter and hide wires running to plug-ins with plastic u-channels painted the colour of your walls.


  • Why not consider using this space to create your very own reading nook or library? Having a built-in bookcase installed is a clean looking and functional piece of furniture that would otherwise take up valuable floor space somewhere out in your room.
  • Flank it with a cozy pair of chairs (foot stool’s a must here for optimum lounging comfort), and a small side table for cups of coffee in the morning or that glass of Shiraz at night.

Clever Catch-All

  • Glide out bins or hinged doors concealing shelves, hooks, and containers make smart use of this area as well: consider carving out a small niche to house a dresser or small sideboard (to hold mail, keys, mittens, scarves, or even the dog's bowl and leash), and build-in the rest.
  • For a more casual look, install a few shelves and fill with woven or wire baskets, keeping the area open, yet tidy and completely organized.

Crispin Butterfield owns Urban Theory Interior Design in Kelowna, and has been designing soul-hugging residential and commercial spaces across Western Canada for the past 13 years.

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