A Perfect Fit: 12 Under-the-Stairs Built-in Storage Solutions

As a child, I dreamed of living in a home with a hidden room. Now as an adult, I’ve graduated to fantasizing about built-in storage under stairs. They’re the same thing, really: Both are a joy to stumble upon; both are designed to fit quirky spaces; and both feel just a little bit magical.

Here are some of our favorite examples of built-in shelves, cubbies, and cabinets shimmied under stairs.

Staircase Shelving in Tiny Paris Apartment by Marianne Evennou
Above: Staircase Shelving in a tiny Paris apartment designed by Marianne Evennou. Photograph by Marie-Pierre Morel, courtesy of Marianne Evennou, from Blue Streak: An Inventive, Postage Stamp-Sized Flat in the Center of Paris.
Stair to mezzanine in architect Mariana de Delás-designed Madrid apartment, a project known as The House for Cosimo Piovasco.
Above: The stairs to the mezzanine in architect Mariana de Delás-designed Madrid apartment, a project known as The House for Cosimo Piovasco. Photography by Miguel de Guzman and Rocio Romero of Imagen Subliminal, courtesy of Mariana de Delás, from A Small (but Growing) Apartment Inspired by a Favorite Novel.
Under Stairs Storage in LIsa Jones' Shelter Island Home, Photograph by Jonathan Hokklo
Above: Fashion buyer Lisa Jones turned an empty space under the stairs in her weekend home into a nook for log storage. See A Fashion Buyer’s Danish-Inspired Getaway on Shelter Island. Photograph by Jonathan Hokklo.
Home office: Under-the-stair desk in a Cobble Hill duplex designed by architect Oliver-Freundlich.
Above: Initially designated for bike storage, the space under the stairs in this Brooklyn duplex ended up becoming a home office. “I realized the underside of the remodeled stair was going to create a warm and inviting space,” says their designer Oliver Freundlich. See The Ultimate Starter Apartment, Cobble Hill Edition. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Desk Under Stairs of Jennifer Hanlin's Cobble Hill Loft
Above: “The stair in Mia’s bedroom is an interpretation of the Tansu stairs that we saw in Japan,” says architect Jennifer Hanlin, of the clever built-ins in her daughter’s bedroom. (The stairs lead to her sleeping loft.) “It efficiently incorporates a desk niche as well as drawers for clothing.” See An Eclectic Apartment Inspired by Japanese Storage Chests in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Photograph by Bruce Buck.
Charles Mellersh's Notting Hill Apartment Stairs
Above: Architects Michaelis Boyd had the stairs moved in this Notting Hill townhouse to create more livable space. Sloped cabinets were built in, providing more storage space in the kitchen area. See A Notting Hill Townhouse Tailored for Living by Charles Mellersh. Photograph by Chris Tubbs.
Massim Design Studio Stairs
Above: Behind this wall of smart built-in cabinets (check out that wine rack) is a tunnel-like staircase. The work of Massim Design Studio, the partition provides storage for the kitchen (to its right) and the dining area, which is right in front of it. See Best Professionally Designed Living/Dining Space: Massim Design Studio.
Juan Matiz Staircase, Photograph by Ty Cole
Above: Storage is a premium in most NYC apartments. Architect Juan Matiz made sure built-ins were part of the design of this staircase leading to the roof terrace. See The Architect Is In: Juan Matiz of Matiz Architecture & Design. Photograph by Ty Cole.
Hugh Randolph Palma Plaza Renovation Austin Texas
Above: Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects not only worked multiple seamless closets into the stair’s design, but also this functional command center. See The Architect Is In: The Family Cottage Reinvented, Austin Edition. Photograph by Whit Preston.
HEIRLOOM FARM COTTAGE RENOVATION: Stairs and Hallway at One End of the Living Room
Above: Bushman Dreyfus Architects gave the stairs to the attic of this 1780s log cabin a modern makeover that included a glass encasement to store fire wood. The firm submitted the project to Remodelista Considered Design Awards 2017. See Heirloom Farm Cottage Renovation.
Casa Tiny Airbnb Oaxaca Mexico, Concrete Stairs, Architect Aranza de Ariño, Camila Cossio Photo
Above: Casa Tiny, an Airbnb in Oaxaca, Mexico, features concrete stairs with wood shelves and cabinets nestled under them. Architect Aranza de Ariño designed the alternating treads to be wider than normal so guests can have extra seating. See Casa Tiny, A Walden-Inspired Getaway in Mexico. Photograph by Camila Cossio.
Annex Apartment: Stairs to the attic office
Above: Hidden and seamless cabinets line the side of these stairs that lead up to an attic office. The project by LAMAS Inc. was another 2017 submission to the Remodelista Considered Design Awards. See Annex Apartment.

Inspired? Here are more posts on built-in storage ideas:

N.B.: This is an update; it was first published in 2019.

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