How to create under-stairs storage — whether you rent or own

Handy hacks for making the most of your under stair space

An image of a white and pine stair case with gray storage drawers underneath the stair case
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re fed up of wasted space at home and wondering how to create under-stairs storage, you’ll be pleased to know there are great options, whether you own or rent. 

In a bid to say goodbye to unused space, we’ve spoken to design and organization experts for their best tips on making the most of those difficult-to-use under stair areas. 

From ideas for under-stairs storage and renter-friendly hacks, our experts have covered all bases. 

How to create under-stairs storage

Understanding how to best utilize the size and shape of the space you have is essential.

Professional organizer, Amy Bloomer, says, “Under the stairs can be a super space for storage. The secret is figuring out how to efficiently utilize the square footage, given the tricky angles and ceiling lines," regardless of the design of your stairs

Amy Bloomer
Amy Bloomer

Amy Bloomer is a professional organizer who has an MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Amy has been in thousands of homes, helping families, professionals and retirees transform their space.

1. Install shelving

An image of a white stair case with wooden hand rails and an under stair storage box

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A simple way to take advantage of wasted under stair space is adding shelves.

Finding shelving to fit an awkward space can be challenging. Amy says, “If budget isn't a concern, install custom shelving as an optimal way to maximize both vertical and horizontal space.

“If you are looking for a more economical approach, measure the length and height of the walls and order metal shelves (these adjustable shelves from Amazon are genius) that fit the dimensions well.”

For rental properties, where drilling or fixing items to walls aren't possible, cleaning and organizing expert, Karina Toner says, “Opt for freestanding or modular shelving unit that don't require permanent installation (this freestanding expandable metal rack from Wayfair is sturdy and visually appealing). This allows for flexibility in adjusting the storage layout without damaging the rental property.

“Floating shelves (such as these no-drill, peel and stick floating shelves from Amazon will hold up to 15 lbs) are versatile and can be easily installed without causing damage to the structure. They also provide a sleek and contemporary way to showcase items.”

Karina Toner, Operations Manager, Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is a cleaning expert and the Operations Manager at Washington D.C.-based Spekless Cleaning. 

2. Fit pull-out drawers

Add to your under-stairs storage with drawers beneath your stairs or shelves (we love these freestanding angled pull-out drawers from Wayfair). These can either be custom-made or freestanding, depending on whether you own or rent, as well as your budget. 

Karina explains, “Utilize the triangular space under stairs with pull-out drawers. These are versatile and can be customized for various items, from shoes to seasonal items.”

Alternatively, for rental properties, she says, “Consider pre-built under stair drawer units that are easy to install and remove, making them suitable for rental properties. These drawers offer practical and concealed storage.”

Or, for a more budget-friendly approach to storage, Karina suggests using storage cubes (such as this 10-cube storage organizer rack from Amazon). She adds, “Storage cubes are customizable and can adapt to various under stair configurations. They are easy to assemble and disassemble, making them renter-friendly.”

3. Add doors to create a closet or pantry

An image of a white stair case with wooden hand rails and under stair pull-out storage boxes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're staying put for a while, or have a lovely landlord who'll let you make some more long-lasting changes, fitting doors to the front of that triangular space under the stairs could usher in a whole new storage era. 

Karina suggests converting the space under stairs into a small closet or pantry. She says, "This is an excellent option for storing cleaning supplies, vacuum cleaners, or even non-perishable pantry items.

“Create hidden storage nooks with hinged panels. These can be seamlessly integrated into the staircase design and provide discreet storage for smaller items.”

If fitting doors isn’t an option, Karina suggesting hanging curtains or using tension rods for a makeshift partition. "This not only conceals storage items but also adds a touch of style to the space," she adds.

Got extra space under your stairs? This might be the perfect time to make a den under your staircase for your kids. They will love it!

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.