pantry under stairs

stacilynnAugust 13, 2011

I was just wondering if anyone has utilized the long narrow space under their stairs. I am planning on turning mine into a pantry area. Hopefully with shelving along one side and across the back. I realize there won't be much elbow room but I really think it is workable. Would like to know if anyone has done this and how it looks. How far in can I comfortably go? I also thought this might be a spot for the recyclables.

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I love the idea of turning the space under your stairs into a pantry! Have you googled "pantry under stairs"? There are quite a few ideas both in images and websites on how to accomplish this. You might also look at Houzz for ideas. They don't have much in the way of pantry under stairs, but you can get lots of organizational ideas. I hope you'll share how you decide to proceed with your project!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 11:34PM
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I have my pantry under my staircase and I love it. I have narrow shelves on each side for food storage and and deeper shelves on the back wall for platters. We installed a motion light's great to leave your hands free.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 11:45PM
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I have googled "pantry under stairs" and found a few ideas but would like someone from this site to give me ideas.
Breadandsuch-do you have any pictures of your project. How wide is the space and how far in do you go?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 12:04AM
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The most efficient way to use that space is not with a pantry that you approach from the same direction as the stairs, but with storage you access perpendicular to the stairs.

In other words: Drawers--into the side of the descending stairs. The way it was done in some grand old houses I've seen. Worked beautifully.

Or you could just find some kid who's watched too many Harry Potter movies and rent it out.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 12:53AM
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I do realize accessing the space under the stairs is easier and better utilized from the side. But my "under the stairs" opens up into my kitchen right next to my fridge and center island. So I feel it would be a perfect (well not really perfect) but close to perfect for my situation. I hope someone on here has some pictures of a finished off step-in pantry.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 9:29AM
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I have seen everything from just a few shallow shelves (until the headspace became to short) to actual roll out units in the back to use the shorter headspace one rolled out and then pivoted for access to the 'back' side).

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:59AM
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Fori is not pleased

You can do a low budget pantry with these adjustable angle shelf brackets.

It would be silly NOT to use that space for a pantry, right?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 12:44PM
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Brickeyee- where did you see this? I want a roll out thing that maybe holds my recyclables that can be pushed back toward the short end of the stairway. Possibly with a landing spot on top to put groceries on before putting them on the shelves. I am afraid I will have to design this myself to get my idea to become a reality. I just wish I knew it would work. Or if there is another possibility that has worked for someone else that I could tweek to fit my needs.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 12:49PM
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I'm also interested in responses to this. I'm thinking a roll-out utilizing the short end, and a shelf along one side. This old house has a narrow staircase!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 12:56PM
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We are currently renovating our kitchen and my contractor is building a rolling pantry that will pull out of the area under the stairs. Because of access to under the house issues, we cannot build in a closed pantry. The mobile pantry will have shelving for food and paper item storage as well as space for larger items. The finished pantry should be about 24 by 32 by 48. There is currently a broom closet in that space and the pantry (which will attach to the existing antique door) will be pulled out when needed.
I'll post pics as we proceed.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 1:07PM
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Sorry, no pictures of the actual pantry, but maybe you can visualize it from this one. The stairs are behind the refrigerator wall going up from the right hand side. On the left of the place where the refrigerator goes, is a walkway to the dining room. Behind the refrigerator is a walk in pantry about 3 ft wide and 6 feet deep. It came w with 3 shelves that were 2 ft deep in the back, where the ceiling slopes for the stairs. They weren't as functional as they could be, so we shorteded the shelves to 12" deep. DH installed white haning wire racks about 5 or 6 inches deep up both side walls of the pantry. Works well for us.

One thing about maybe going in through the side of the stairs is that side wall of the stairwell MIGHT be a bearing wall (as ours is), and cutting through it would structurally weaken the house. We wanted to sink our non-counter depth fridge a little into the wall, but when we realized that it was a bearing wall, knew it couldn't safely be done without totally re-doing the wall and putting in support headers. That wasn't in the scope of our re-model, so we built the cabinet out a little instead.

Pantry door is on left behind refrigerator space:

We used racks similar to these:

Here is a link that might be useful: Wire wall rack

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 1:19PM
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Here are some pics for you. I will tell you that many builders like to use some of that space for an HVAC return. They also tend to give you push back as they don't see how you're going to be able to use that space under the landing because you can't stand up straight under there.

Dear Mom did her pantry under her stairs and that's where we got the inspiration. Her pantry is the finished one in the pics below. She has 10ft ceilings with 9 risers to the landing in each direction.

We have 9ft ceilings so only 8 stairs to the landing in either direction. To increase the height in there both as you enter as well as under the landing, we changed up the stair configuration & went with 11 risers from the 1st floor to the landing then 5 risers from the landing to the 2nd floor. This allowed us a 6' ceiling height under the landing so we're able to stand up straight everywhere in the pantry. We also had the framers recess an area back under the longer run of steps in the pantry for vacuums and brooms, etc. The builder got his way and an HVAC return did get installed in there and we were able to put it in the corner so it was not too obtrusive. Our pantry is the one that's unfinished in the pics below. The shelves are in now but I didn't get any pics yesterday. I'll see if I can snap some tomorrow and post them for you including the recessed area. We did discuss putting in drawers under the remaining un-utilized stair space (on the left) but I got overruled on that one as 'this should be enough storage already.'

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 1:32PM
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You should probably check with your building code...I haven't looked into this recently, but some codes prohibit storage under stairs, or require fire rated materials (which might be achieved with the right application of drywall).

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:16PM
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This isn't in the kitchen, but we used most of the space under the stairs in our last house. Closet down to usable space, set of drawers that could have been wider, and on the other side of the wall, a stackable W/D. We had a step up into the closet due to basement stairs needing headroom.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 12:51AM
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What are acceptable dimensions of a step-in pantry?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 12:00PM
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My parents used the space under their stairs for a pantry. They had shelving built all along one wall and I believe it goes nearly all the way back. Most used items are near the front, so one rarely has to stoop to get to the back.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 10:25AM
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Pricklypearcactus-do you have, or could you post a picture of how it looks? Thanks

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 11:25AM
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We are nearing the end of our kitchen remodel. The home was built in 1982. The kitchen is behind the stairs and there is a coat closet next to the stairs in the entry. We demo'd the coat closet and reframed it to open into the kitchen and opened up the wall to the right of it where it goes under the stairs. So the main pantry storage is in the "coat closet" and there is "overflow" storage as you turn right and go under the stairs. The stairs on are the other side of the wall behind the oven and refrigerator. I'm not sure if this is helpful to you but since we did in fact use the space under the stairs as a pantry I thought I would share.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 10:23PM
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I can't wait to see what you do! I think it's great that you're going to use this space that otherwise is wasted.

We left the area under our new stairs open so we could put our dog's bed under there. Under the dog's bed is the hatchway to the crawl space/cold storage.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 12:29AM
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Sorry, I do not have a picture. The door is at the end, so you look directly down the length of the stairs. The shelving is all on one side and is maybe 12" deep. It's essentially a bunch of square openings that slowly step down the length. My parents tend to store a lot of canned, bottled, and dry goods, as well as wine.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 11:19AM
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Well this will be an adventure. I feel like I can see it in my head, I just need my carpenter guy to think as "out of the box" as I am...I am afraid he is going to look at me like I am crazy. Which I very may well be by the time this project is completed...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 12:10PM
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No pix, but my daughter's pantry is under a straight run of stairs, accessed from the end, and is truly excellent, like Dreamhome's, with shelves only along the side. It has no special features to maximize storage, but because the run is straight it has tons of storage as it is. If it were mine, I might well build in a couple of aftermarket pullouts at the end to hold pet food. If not, I'd fit the far end to hold tall, deep stuff so I didn't have to lean over to grab, and I'd place that back storage before the point where leaning became cumbersome. I'd also wall off behind that. No back pantry "ghetto" collecting seldom-used items that I disliked visiting and wished I didn't have to empty and clean.

This is exactly what we did with our master closets in our attic bedroom--short hanging items (blouses and folded pants) on a bar across the back, placed where I could walk forward under the 12 in 12 pitch, reach out without any bending at all, and get what I wanted. I decided on bar placement, then told the carpenters where to frame the back wall. Also working excellently.

BTW, my own 12" deep wall-pantry shelves hold everything (EVERYTHING!) but my largest pots and serving platters. It was a big surprise to realize just how small, for instance, a large Sams Club bottle of vegetable oil really is. These shelves hold Campbell's soup 4 deep with a couple inches to spare. Shallower shelves would mean less searching.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 3:29PM
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I will probably have narrow shelving on the right side. I would like to recess between the studs. This shelving would be for cans and jars. On the left side I plan on going a bit deeper, maybe 10 inches, to hold things like boxes of cereal or cake mixes. In the back will be a landing spot for bags of groceries. Not sure if I will be able to put shelving above or not because of the slope. Under the counter will be a roll out bin for pop cans and plastic recyclables also maybe infrequently used things like canning stuff, bread maker, fondue pot would be housed there. I like the motion light idea.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 2:41PM
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Here's my pantry under the stairs.

The pantry is 42" wide and 6' long. We have 9' ceilings and the stairs end about 9" before the door so for those 9", the ceiling height in the pantry is 9' tall. It slopes from there; the back wall is 5' high. We removed the builder-installed fixed shelves a few years back and installed Elfa shelving system, which IMO is heads and tails better than what we had because I can store so much more than before. I love my pantry, modest as it is, and I would not want to give it up.

I said as much to a KD we hired to come up with plans for our remodel. Her first plan eliminated the pantry, replacing it with a 24" wide pantry cab. Uh, no, that won't work for us. What part of "I would not want to give up my pantry" did she not get? Needless to say we didn't continue to work with her.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 4:56PM
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Thank you lisa_a , for your picture. You are lucky to have such high ceilings. Mine are only about 6 1/2 feet under the stairs. Therefore I will probably only go back 3 1/2 to 4 feet. But at least this gives me an idea of what it will look like. Do you ever feel the need to have a landing spot or counter on the back wall for your bags of groceries?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 8:23PM
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Our kitchen island is near the pantry door (as is our fridge). All groceries get plopped there and then distributed to wherever they go. I would want something handy but I have to say that there are times when I haul a bag that is full of items destined for the pantry straight into the pantry and unload it there. So I think you could do without.

But here's an idea. Do you have any wall space nearby where you could install a fold-up table? You know, the kind that is attached to the wall, folds up when you need it and folds flat (or close enough to flat) against the wall when you're done using it. I don't know if I'm giving this the right name so hopefully you know what I mean.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:30PM
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Thanks, my island and fridge will be close to the pantry as well. So may be rethinking the counter area and replacing with shelving in the back. Although I was planning on having the recycling center in there. I thought I could have something on rollers that I could push back into the slope that would normally be unusable.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:55PM
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here is a picture of my 'under the stairs'. work in progress...

Here is a link that might be useful: gutted under the stairs

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 12:18PM
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Here's a thought. If all you need is a small area to unload pantry items, why couldn't you install a small pull-down (wall) ironing board and use it as a table and ironing board (if you iron ) just a thought.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 1:39PM
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