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Creative Ideas for the Space Under the Stairs

Written by Karie Reynolds


Posted on July 29 2019

Have a staircase nook just begging to be decorated, but feel at a loss for what to do with it? We get it. The space under the stairs can be awkward and oddly shaped, making it difficult to imagine a design that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. While combing the internet looking for inspiration, we’ve found that the key is to embrace this space’s unique shape and allow it to inspire your design. Here are a few ideas to get you started and get the creative juices flowing.

Kids’ Hideaway or Playroom

Though the space under the stairs leaves a lot to be desired as a bedroom (as we all learned from the Harry Potter books), it can be a really fun play area for the kiddos. With the right touches, it can hold the same magical quality as a treehouse or fort, inspiring imagination and free play for little ones.

We’ve seen everything from transforming this space into a complete playhouse to a simple secret hideaway. If a playhouse is a bit too complicated for your liking, don’t worry. The use of big pillows, chalk paint, and bright paint colors make it easy to create a cozy, creative nook for your little ones to play in over the years to come.


Pet Retreat

If you’re a dog parent, you likely already know the benefits of providing a quiet little hangout spot for your dog. In fact, vets recommend equipping a “safe space” for your dog in your home so that they can have a quiet place to retreat to whenever they are experiencing fear, anxiety, or just need a break.
Having a safe space for your pup has other benefits, as well, like teaching young children how to respect boundaries with your dog. If your dog is in his safe space, little ones can be taught that he or she wants to be left alone and that it is safest to respect that. The availability of a safe space also builds your dog’s confidence in dealing with uncertain or stressful situations because they know they always have the option to leave a situation and go somewhere that is completely theirs.

When setting up your dog’s safe space under the stairs, keep in mind that you’ll want it to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Cozy it up with a quality dog bed that matches your decor, toys that provide mental stimulation, and plenty of food and water. Nowadays, there are plenty of higher-end pet supply brands out there from which you can select items that will keep the space looking chic while also serving as the perfect private spot for your dog.


Home Office

A two-year Stanford study showed that working from home significantly boosts productivity and includes a host of other benefits, like converting commute time to quality family time. If your job grants you the privilege to work from home, then it’s time to stop working from the kitchen table and to create a space just for you.

If you don’t have the advantage of a spare bedroom that can be converted into an office, that nook under the stairs may be all you need. Under the stairs home office concepts range from elaborate to minimal. Wherever you fall on the spectrum in terms of what fits your style and budget, you can create a work space where you will feel inspired to sit down and chip away at your biggest goals.


Library or Cozy Reading Nook

Still struggling with a lofty collection of books, even after KonMari-ing your entire home? We get it. It can be hard to part with that stack of your favorites, plus all the ones you intend to read every summer but somehow just haven’t yet. Why not give them a home under the stairs? The cozy nature of this space makes the perfect library, like something pulled straight from the pages of a storybook.

And speaking of finally working through that stack of unread books, the space under the stairs can also serve as a cozy reading nook. Decorate it with your favorite chair, add patterned throw pillows to make a statement, and a potted plant to keep it feeling fresh. Or, you could go in the direction of actually building a window seat-like nook into the space to really crank up the level of cozy.


Clever Storage

Sometimes, you just need more storage in your home, whether it’s for your craft supplies, kids’ belongings...or your wine collection. We were especially impressed by this exposed wine cellar by Canadian design firm, Beyond Beige.

Hand-built drawers and shelves can provide a beautiful and functional storage solution and minimize clutter -- especially right at the entryway to your home where stray items tend to accumulate throughout the day.


There are still many other creative uses out there for the space under the stairs -- from laundry rooms and bathrooms to fully stocked bars. With some clever design and and an open mind, you can transform this tiny space into something both functional and beautiful for your home. What is your favorite use for the space under the stairs? Let us know what your plans are for yours.




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