under the stairs...a catch all???

sunny631April 13, 2010

Unfortunately, as soon as you walk into my house you are in front of stairs. Two steps forward and you can see under the steps. I don't know about you guys but for me it has turned into a catch all for things that don't have a "home" I live in a smaller house and storage is a bit of a problem. I do have extra cabinet space in the kitchen but the stuff under there so isn't "kitchen" stuff. Like my large box of computer accessories. Or the extra floor tile I want to put to good use but haven't figured out how. Or gallons of paint that's still good. Or hubbies tool box. And who knows what else?

So my question is...what do I do w/ the stuff. ( I am not tossing it!) We keep our house with the minimal amount of stuff but if I paid for something and have some left over I try to find another use for it. Like the paint. I intend to use on the upstairs bathroom. One day. The floor tiles...I have no idea.Maybe I could use that there too.

Is there a clever way to disguise that mess under there? Or another way to utilize the space? I suppose if I turned it into something functional I would be forced to find a "home" for this stuff. But I am at a loss.

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Can you build some shelves there? So far that is the best thing I found for that type of area. If it is on a shelf, it looks neat and clean. Otherwise, it all ends up in piles.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 3:53PM
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I vote for shelves too. If you can see through the stairs you might consider putting risers on them. Alternatively put a sheet of painted plywood on the back of the stairs. If you paint it black it will disappear. A dark curtain hung in front of the shelves will hide it from view

Another solution would to get an armoir that will fit under there

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 5:47PM
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Picture please?

How much room do you have?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 5:54PM
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Oh, I'm am so ashamed....please don't say anything about the four keyboards. I already know. Computers are my hobby. One of them. I was thinking a shelving unit of some sort too but that's only cause I have no other idea's. That's not gonna help me w/ this mess but it might come in handy for future things.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 6:15PM
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How about a set of baskets to fit under the stairs? keep "like with like". I.E. Food in one basket, papers in another, another cleaning products, etc. . It sounds like you don't have enough storage space, yet this place has naturally appeared for storage. Just make it look nice and organized. You don't need to throw anything out if you use it.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 9:38PM
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Lovely space you have there!!!

I would have shelves on both walls, do the black painted plywood at the back of the stairs and the curtain and also have a bin on casters in the middle for bigger stuff.

You can store a lot of stuff there and have it very organized too. Love it!

It will cost some money, but not a whole lot if you DIY.

Maria in Chios, Greece

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 2:16AM
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Lovely space you have there!!!

I would have shelves on both walls, do the black painted plywood at the back of the stairs and the curtain and also have a bin on casters in the middle for bigger stuff.

You can store a lot of stuff there and have it very organized too. Love it!

It will cost some money, but not a whole lot if you DIY.

Maria in Chios, Greece

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 3:17AM
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Many places sell shelving-Home Depot, Ikea, etc. Why not visit a store and see what they have that you could fit in that space? Be sure to measure first!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 9:47AM
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I do have a baker's rack type thing that is now empty after relocating some books. I may be able to fit that along the left wall there. And maybe some of those cheapo three bin plastic drawers or something along those lines?
Baskets won't work for us. I will just fill them up until they overflow. Not proud of that but, it's the truth. Well, maybe one basket right there under the stairs. Since it will be hard to put anything else there.
I have decided to move the paint upstairs since that is where I will be using it. I have double sinks up there and not one thing in the cabinets underneath. I also noticed (blush) that two of those large boxes are empty. Who knew?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 9:48AM
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Can you find some four, three and two-drawer full-suspension file cabinets? They make marvelous storage bins, and they are deep enough to fill the space.

OR, use just 2-drawer ones and put a top on them to make a "launch pad" where keys, mail, and other transient things go. Add some coat-hooks for purses, a key rack, and a mail basket. Maybe some small drawer units to hold stamps and scissors.

OR, find a table that just fits the space, put a skirt on it to cover the mess (Put the mess into plastic labelled bins). Make the top into your launch pad.



    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 11:14AM
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If you do a Google Image search on "shelves under stairs," you'll see all sorts of ideas. I think the simplest would be standards and brackets with melamine shelves. Nothing fancy, but it would make the area look neat.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 9:30PM
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I'd build shelves with a space for baskets/containers underneath. Do you put the same items there all the time? Do you want to use this space for certain stuff?
Before you go building shelves, determine what you want kept there. Then go look for containers to hold the stuff, then get out graph paper and draw yourself shelf/storage system that will accomodate what you want to put there.
Believe me, I know from experience to build around items instead of trying to fit stuff in whats there.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 11:12AM
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I kind of hesitate to be the voice with the one thing not mentioned ... clean it up and out. It obviously bothers you everytime you look at it and I'd be afraid baskets, boxes and shelving will evolve into the same visible unkempt stash that it is now.

I understand small (my first house being a pretty bare bones townhouse), but no basement, garage, carport, shed, mudroom, covered porch, utility room, laundry room, accessible attic, closets?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 11:34AM
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Let's break the stuff down.

Paint- You said you were going to use it upstairs. Pick a time when you can paint and then paint. Putting this off is stealing your energy for other things. Most people hang onto paint cans indefinitely and never use the paint again. Use it or get rid of it.

Tools - you need to find a way to store the tools since they have value and add value to your home when used. I would make the focus of the storage space for your tools. If the tools are organized and easy to find, you will be more likely to work on projects. You could even build a small workbench in there. Put shelves above it and to the right of it. Totally useful. Then you could hang curtains along the whole length. Ikea had a wire curtain rod for almost nothing. It's very indiscreet. If you don't sew, you could use bed sheets. On most sheets, the top hem is like a pocket which you could use to string the wire through, but if you are mildly handy with a sewing needle, you could sew rings at the top of the sheets and run the wire through the rings. That would make it easier to open and close.

Keyboards and other misc computer equipment - What do you mean it's a hobby? Are you actively building new systems that use up the components on a regular basis? If you are not, but keep saying that you want to do it, think about it really hard. It's very common to get all excited about a new hobby, but then we lose interest in it. If you are not doing anything about the equipment, that means you really are not that into your hobby any more. Let the equipment go and you will gain space and open up your mind and heart for a new hobby that you will enjoy doing. Hanging on to an ex-hobby keeps us in the past and doesn't allow us to move forward to live the life we want to live.

Tiles - You have no idea where you will use them. I know of a perfect place. If you have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore or something similar in your area, donate the tiles. The tiles are taking up valuable space, not only in your house, but your head. Free them and it will free your mind, and your tiles will benefit someone who is less fortunate than you.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:20AM
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Part of me agrees that getting rid of some of the stuff is a good first step, but me, I have to be ready when I let go and you're clearly not. Plus, I find I let go best when I organize first, then I can see what I have, and then make rational choices about it all. You sound like a very self-aware person who is quite OK with who you are even if you recognize your "flaws," and I'm sure your objective in posting was not to be told what a bad person you are. Nor did you ask for help running your life and deciding when to paint the bathroom.

If we focus on organizing what you have, Lazy Gardens has what I think might be the best idea: filing cabinets. Try to get the real office kind that are 28 inches deep with full extension slides - usually affordable if you buy vintage; I haven't priced them new. The biggest challenge you have in that under-stair space is actually using the depth, not organizing it. If you get a series of cabinets - perhaps 4, 3, and then 2 drawer - in the same colour, it will look very unobtrusive from the front door.

If you look hard you can get very cool old cabinets of that depth with drawers for index cards or all sorts of small drawers, good for tools and bits.

If you put something with less depth there, and I doubt you'd have a shelf unit with more that 16" depth if that, maybe even a sideboard with 17-22 inches, you'll just pile stuff in front of it. Ask me how I know.

And yes, I said sideboard. Or armoire. Even if it just paint and other ugly things, there's nothing wrong with using a nice piece of furniture to keep it in.

And just have to say that, wow, Oilpainter gets points upthread for being prescient about there being no risers. Would never have occurred to me, as my space like this is under closed stairs.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 1:16PM
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I don't understand the need to "be ready". If we have too much stuff and it causing us stress and embarrassment, then we should deal with it. What good does hanging onto it do?

Karen, You seem to have taken my post personally. I did not say she was a bad person nor are you, but making justifications for keeping stuff isn't helping anyone.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 5:01PM
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Is this truly the only place you have to store paint, etc.?

I'm w/ duluthinbloomz4 and with Janet--I vote for committing now to a time to paint the bathroom.

And if you can't do it, then I wonder if you are telling yourself that you don't really *want* to.

I do know that sometimes I have to "be ready" to toss* something. But I wonder if this post of yours is actually a huge part of being ready--you don't like how that looks. That's the first step.

Also--money. theoretically, the paint is worth money. Theoretically.
How much money? And how likely is it you want to paint the bathroom the same exact color, and is it mildew-resistant bathroom paint, etc.?

How much money is it worth to have that eyesore not dragging you down?

I sometimes say to myself, as I toss* things that seem to have monetary value, "I'd *pay* $35 not to look at this for the next year."

*toss = "get it out of my house in whatever way works--recycle, donate, put in the garbage."

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:29PM
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Seems to me you have a hard time reaching the under-steps to clean them -- for one reason that they are un-accessible. Clearing the space under the stairs will help you clean the stairs themselves.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 11:48AM
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If you "fill in" the area behind the stair case itself with either gyproc....panelling..maybe tongue and grove or something cheap that you can put wallpaper or a texture painted surface, you can work with the space and make a small home office or workshop area to work with your keyboards. Get a hollow core door and place it "desk level across the area and place a small chest of drawers or filing cabinets under it. A few pieces of trim will make it look nice. Leave room for a chair to slide under and place a few floating shelves on the back wall for storage of books or a basket ..or work related equipment. I have my desktop computer on mine, and my camera stuff up on the shelves along with battery chargers and a power bar, a desk lamp and a cordless phone...and I am good to go. There is also a good space behind the small dresser that I used so I hid our safe and a box of papers that didn't need to be laying about.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 7:57PM
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Depending on the room available, how about 2-3 carts that are on wheels. Get ones that are specific to your needs. So you could get some with shelves and some with drawers. That way you could pull them out to get what you need and it would be easier to keep organized. After you get the carts you could also put a solid shelf over the top to take advantage of the triangular area. This would also keep you from seeing the stuff through the steps. Hang a curtain over the front. If you hang the curtain in alignment with the shelf it would give it boxed look. One option would be to put a decorative basket on top of the shelf. You would also be able to use the shelf without having to fight the curtain if you decide to use it for a place to dock phones, store keys, or your purse. If you do that I would bring the shelf all the way out so it's even with the stairs. That way it would look more built in.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 12:08AM
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