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Under-the-Stairs Closet Storage

Once again I'm about to jump into another home makeover project. This time the project revolves around getting the storage space under my staircase organized.

Originally when I moved into this home a few years ago the space under the stairs was completely empty. It was a blank canvas. At the time, without knowing the basics of organization (and an army of professional organizers), I added a single wire shelf. This helped out a bit but, as you can see from the photo, didn't solve the problem.

The issue we have is this space never stays organized. There are probably a few reasons for this. The first is because it's not very easy to access the items stored in this area. Which means people usually just toss stuff in. The second reason is because there really aren't any storage compartments. The third is because we've yet to identify the exact issue at hand.

Anyway, I'm going to fix this problem soon. Any advice or tips you may have are welcome. I'll be sure to share the results when the project is complete.

Hall Closet

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10 Responses to Under-the-Stairs Closet Storage

  1. Jim Deitzel January 18, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Honestly… not much happened here. Ultimately I removed all the clutter / junk that didn’t need to be here and made a rule that this space couldn’t just be a dumping ground.
    It’s probabably the hardest space I’ve organized.

  2. Cheryl January 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    So what happened with your under stairs storage? I am wanting to use the risers on the underside of stairs to make shelves and a storage area. I am only able to access from the front also. Most ideas are side entrances. I also want to use basement steps as storage by hinging the step and lifting it and putting a lift out storage container in there because there is no access under the steps from the side on this set of steps either. Any ideas!

  3. Jim Deitzel February 5, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    Good thought. This however won’t work in my case. The sides are either a dining room or kitchen. Thanks for the input.

  4. Lindsay L. February 5, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    I actually did away with this in our basement by filling in the door with a wall and then opening it up from the side. Then I created shelves as well as a bigger opening at the bottom where we can store (shove) larger things (like little strollers, shopping cart, activity center, over-sized blocks, etc. If you have the capability to do that, I highly recommend it!

  5. Jim Deitzel January 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    I’m all for taking out the single shelf. It’s not adding much value.
    I’m going to take a long look at the closet this weekend and work through the plan using the comments.
    Thanks for the input.

  6. Julie Bestry January 23, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    Heh. Seeing our conversation outside of the Twitterstream, where the Twitterer’s name comes first, it looks like I’m saying your lines and you’re saying mine. :-)
    I agree with Janice, in theory, about hanging the luggage, but a)I’m not sure you’ve got the height clearance there and b)luggage wheels are dirty and if they touch your walls, your wife may kill you.
    Every time I look at the closet, I’m more tempted to see if you can remove the one shelf you put in. It seems to limit more than it provides. The slats require small things to be placed in containers to keep from falling through. A short Rubbermaid resin shelf along the back wall would let you use lidded tubs as drawers that could slide out. Another short one, maybe with a shallower profile, could fit on the right wall w/out blocking the one you’d put in the rear, leaving space for standing items, like the vacuum. There’s not THAT much stuff in the closet–it just needs to be de-willynilly-fied.
    I definitely do agree with Janice about taking advantage of the vertical space, either the rear of the door or even the wall. Check out Jeri Dansky’s always-amazing blog post from just yesterday for options that might appeal to the whole family:
    http://jdorganizer.blogspot.com/2009/01/use-your-closet-doors-to-store-stuff.html

  7. Jim Deitzel January 23, 2009 at 8:00 am #

    Yesterday Julie Bestry and I had a conversation on Twitter about this project. I thought I’d share.
    TWITTER STREAM 01/22/09
    @ProfOrganizer – Your blog comment just made me laugh and snort. Seriously. A co-worker just gave me a really strange look.
    @rubbermaid I’m glad my blog comment made you laugh. Was it the puzzlement over the orange thing and purple thing? :-)
    @ProfOrganizer – My laughter had to do with your puzzlement which ultimately was a result of my giant mess.
    @rubbermaid Naw…we organizers can usually identify items in person. Let’s both blame it on the photograph, not the closet. :-)
    @ProfOrganizer – Just so you know. The purple items are coach pillows or a jr. sewing machine depending upon which purple thing.
    @ProfOrganizer – The orange item is a paper umbrella. Just like the ones found in drinks except very large. Got it at a wedding.
    @ProfOrganizer – Just uploaded all the photos to flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/rubbermaid/
    @rubbermaid The organizer in me asks, re: the giant paper umbrella, have you used it since receiving it? In what circumstances might you?
    @rubbermaid Must be a junior sewing machine. At that distance, I thought it might be a hand mixer.
    @ProfOrganizer – We’ll never use it. However the kids like to hit each other with it :)
    @ProfOrganizer – I’m laughing so hard right now. I’m so embarrassed of that closet. Oh. the sewing machine is missing the power cord too.
    @rubbermaid Y’know, we might be talking about dif. things. Is orange (yellow?) thing in left front part of a vacuum? Looks like fireplug?
    @ProfOrganizer – Oh yes. A Dyson vacuum. The best thing I’ve ever purchased. Hey everyone. Buy a Dyson if you can. Is Dyson on Twitter?
    @rubbermaid If the sewing machine is missing the power cord, then perhaps you either have to acquire a cord or set the machine free?
    @rubbermaid If the giant paper umbrella is only used when the kids hit one another w/it, perhaps it should live with toys/dressup & *there*?
    @ProfOrganizer – I think the sewing machine & umbrella can find a new home on the island of misfit toys.

  8. Janice Simon January 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    Hi Jim,
    I thought it would be better to send an email to get down all of my ideas. First of all, you have to purge and sort what you have, but that’s just a given.
    - Hooks (or even mails) work well on closet walls to hang up things like brooms, mops, bikes, etc. You could even use a bike hook to hang up those suitcases that I see in the picture.
    - You could put up another shelf on the back wall of the closet.
    - On the back of the closet door, you could have a shoe bag to capture small, floppy things, such as hats, gloves, scarves, camera flashes, etc. Like this one: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=8195155 You can label these too if needed.
    - Using the clear totes on the top shelf (labeled of course) could hold off-season items (or those things you rarely use). The plastic ones with drawers also will work on the floor if you need it. Those are on “kid level.”
    - These organizers work well in closet spaces as well. http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=4888330
    Those are my suggestions! Have fun!!!
    Janice

  9. Jim Deitzel January 22, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    Great questions. Let me try to answer. I also like the idea about taking pictures of the items and doing something real-time. Not sure how well that will work since I can’t really be sure when I’ll do it.
    1) A variety of things. Lots of ‘project kits’ for the kids. Crystal growing kits, woodburning kit, sewing kits, etc. Some games. And a bunch of misc. stuff like wrapping paper, office supplies, pillows, cat carrier, art supplies
    2) Thinking about the categories most of the items fall into the art & crafts category. Aside from a few cleaning items, office supply/packing items, a pillow or two, some wrapping paper (would could be considered crafts) and 2 cat carriers.
    3) I think most items currently in the closet should be there. We can probably purge a bit more. Don’t need to store the pillows or cat carriers there.
    4) The kids use these items once in a while. We don’t need super easy access. What seems to happen is we ‘organize & clean’ the closet and the kids never put it back the way it belongs.
    5) I think I’ll take better photos and also type up a list of the items currently stored along with their frequency of access.
    I think a big problem is the lack of shelving or storage. Most of the items just end up on the floor because there is no place to put them. Hope that helps. Thanks for the input.

  10. Julie Bestry January 21, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

    Ooh, this little closet looks like fun…I wish you were closer, and I’d come over and help. I’m partially at a loss as to what to suggest because i can’t tell what some of those items are…From the mysterious orange thing in the lower left, diagonally to the red & black suitcase, I just see undifferentiated blackness. Is it one thing? Many? And what’s in that bag of multicolored items? Balloons? Wrapping paper? And what’s that purple thing towards the back?
    So:
    1)What’s in there?
    2)What *categories* are there? It looks like there might be wrapping/packaging items (I see bubble wrap and cardboard boxes near the back, but are they empty?) Are there hardware/household tools? Are those air filters flat against the right side?
    2)What actually SHOULD be in there (and what should be elsewhere, and what should be gone)?
    4)What’s the frequency of access for the various categories of things? (Since I don’t know what the orange thing or the purple thing or the black stuff might be, I’m starting behind my usual advice-giving prowess.)
    If you could take everything out and take a picture of it all displayed on a blanket, we could tweet you directions of what to put back and where…Ooooh, are you up for an interactive, in-real-time, organizing project?

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