The empty space under the stairs sometimes gets a bad rap on account of the many stories depicted in film that paint this potential storage space as a nest of insidious horror – or at the very least, a place of relative obscurity where things go to be forgotten. But in this modern age of urban living – where gratuitous space typically comes at a premium, we felt it be prudent to look at these spaces under the stairs in a new light, in order to discover novel ways of incorporating storage options.
In a compact space where a full-fledged staircase would have been overwhelmingly large, a lightweight stairway is formed out of progressively taller cabinets and bookshelves, with an intermediate split-level landing simplistically projecting from the top of the cabinetry. The result is deliberately left without a railing to achieve an unobtrusive stairway that is ingeniously disguised as storage.
The act of removing one’s shoes when entering a home has transitioned from being a distinctly Asiatic custom of tradition to a practical measure in many urban homes around the world – which necessitates considerable storage fixtures to be incorporated at the entryway. The pictured shoe drawers, designed by Toronto-based Post Architecture, enable a sizable family’s worth of shoes to be neatly stowed away in the unassuming space beneath the stairs.
While a stairway with a steep incline may present a formidable barrier to the upper floors, the complete use of extra space for cabinetry helps to disguise the risers and treads of the pictured loft-style staircase. To soften the gradient of the stairway, Schemaa (a Parisian architecture firm) incorporates intermediate blocks of wood to break up the high risers of the steps – resulting in a more graceful incline.
An alternative to wholly dedicating the space under the stairs to storage is put forward by the DIY Network’s Watson Hawkins. The idea entails moving beyond pure storage and adding a facet of functionality to the space. In the pictured example, nearby countertops are extended to the space beneath the stairs, with cabinetry truncated at an angle to match the slope of the stairway’s carriage.
For the majority of those who often find themselves working at a desk while at home, the extra headroom often goes to waste during those hours seated at a desk. Rather than dedicating an entire room to a home office and letting that overhead volume go unused, the pictured staircase incorporates a diminutive office space – where the lower clearance serves to neatly encapsulate the work corner.
Walking out of the front door is a ritual that often gets repeated whenever a necessary object gets left behind – with the procedure often followed by dashes up and down the stairs to retrieve some forgotten item. The entryway often gets cluttered with catch-all containers and furniture as a result. The pictured stairway holds an ordered array of wicker baskets in niches beneath the carriage to negate the clutter and hide vital containers from sight.
Spaces deemed too small for a human to utilise can be handed over to our smaller companions instead. With their uniquely low-lying perspectives, even the smallest of burrows can shelter whole landscapes that are worlds apart from their larger environment. The pictured stairway accommodates a desk just wide enough to be used (by a human) for writing letters – with the extra headroom dedicated to wine storage, while the extra space to the side goes to one lucky quadruped.