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Martin's Blog 27/06/11 - Under the Stairs
In today’s modern homes, space is a premium, so make the most of every last inch. Aside from ‘Harry Potter’ style hideaways, the space under the stairs is often just a dumping ground for the vacuum and not much else. If you have grander ideas for this dead space, then the space under the stairs can be put to all sorts of uses:
Home Office - It’s a great place to have your computer, especially if you don’t have room for a dedicated office. Here the computer will be tucked away but in easy reach - although if your stairs are in the hallway, it might not be the best place to work. Unsightly cables can be easily hidden. Use spot lights or lamps to give task lighting.
Built in drawer space. Ideal if the stairs are open underneath. Even flat packed furniture can be bought in modules to fit in the space, or you can get something custom built. Another option is to actually use the stairs as drawers with the vertical rise of the stair as the drawer front. You’ll need to reinforce the stairs and make sure that they remain closed to avoid any nasty accidents though!
Kitchen Appliances - Many homes have the staircase descending into the kitchen so use the space underneath for storing appliances such as fridge or freezer. Enclose the space with cupboard doors and erect shelving for a handy food store or larder. It could also serve as a breakfast bar.
Wine storage - This one’s easy. Erect wine racks in a triangle formation to fit underneath the stairs and you’ll be able to reach for ya favourite vintage anytime. Check out Tesco Direct for a lo-cost wine rack designed just for this purpose.
Loo - If you can get plumping in, the dimensions of your under stairs space may be big enough for an extra bathroom (or loo with wash basin). This option is likely to increase the value of your house but be careful not to overspend on getting foul water out. You could use a Saniflo macerator WC if it’s too much hassle to run waste pipes there. Consult a specialist bathroom company. You’ll need an extractor fan to comply with building regs.
Fireplace or TV - If the stairs are in the living room, consider re-jigging the layout and have the focal point under the stairs. You won’t be able to have a chimney but you could create a feature fireplace with a flueless one. Alternatively consider positioning the TV here. The recess is ideal for cables and by mounting your TV within the wall, the screen can be flush with the wall.
Mini Kitchen - If the stairs lead up from a basement or room away from the main kitchen, use crafty appliances, to squeeze a sink, fridge and work surface under the stairs. Perfect for making a snack without having to venture too far.
Pet Place - I’ve seen them - those sofas just for the pooch. Give your furry friends their own space in your house by using the under stairs for their toy box and bed. It’s also an ideal place for reptile tanks, pet cages or aquariums.
Books and DVDs - Understairs shelving units are readily available (try www.argos.co.uk). But if you want something made to measure, speak to a local carpenter and get customized shelving and cupboards. You could even have the shelves running front to back in a cabinet mounted on wheels (similar to kitchen space savers).
Laundry - If space is tight in the kitchen, then don’t stop at just storing the hoover and ironing board under the stairs. Install the washing machine and dryer there too. You can close them off with doors but be aware that the noise might bother you.
If you lease your property, check the terms of your lease and contact the landlord before doing anything too major.
Rather than storing stuff under the stairs, you could install a spiral cellar and stash stuff under the floor around a spiral staircase. These are ideal for wine and you don’t need to have an existing cellar or basement to have one. You can put them into the floors of garages or outbuildings. If you want to install one inside your house, you’ll need building regulations approval.
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