Get Creative with These Under-Stairs Decorating Ideas

Hey friends! It’s Angela from Home Décor Chat. Coffee is in hand, as always. Today, I want to chat about one of the most overlooked spaces in our homes – the under-stairs area. I don’t know about you, but in every house I’ve lived in, this spot gets used for one thing only: storage. And not even the cute kind! It is more like “stuff it full of ugly boxes and mismatched bins” storage.

Our homes reflect our style, so why settle for basic when we can get creative? Under-stairs decor has so much potential to become something fabulous- a properly decorated nook or even a miniature room! Let’s explore how to transform this bonus space into something beautiful. I’ve got tons of tips and inspiration to share. Grab your notepad, and let’s get decorating!


The Hidden Gem of Home Decor: Your Under-Stairs Space

Let’s start with the appeal of this often ignored area. For starters, it’s prime real estate in the heart of your home! It can make a profound style statement as guests walk through the door if it’s near your entryway. You’ll impress them with how you’ve maximized every inch of your home. Plus, you can’t put a price on usable square footage. Any sliver of space we can transform into improved function or design is a score in my book.

But most importantly, the under-stairs zone is a blank canvas. Those sloped ceilings, tight corners, and “awkward angles” are opportunities to get creative. You can pick any theme or purpose – a relaxing reading nook, a secret storage spot, or a pet retreat! Let your personality and passions guide you. The possibilities are endless when you approach this space with an open mind and a little imagination.

decorating ideas for under stairs

Assessing Your Under-Stairs Area

Before diving into the fun stuff, assessing what we’re working with is vital. Measure your under-stairs space to determine the possibilities. Measure width, depth, and height considering low ceilings will impact furniture choices.

Pay attention to natural light sources – are there any windows or openings to take advantage of? Take note of any existing lighting fixtures, too. You’ll likely need to add more lighting options to this inherently dark space, so plan where you can install sconces, pendant lights, or recessed lighting.

Finally, evaluate any potential obstacles. Note awkward support beams, protruding pipes, or vents that may interfere with furniture placement or storage options. But don’t get discouraged! These obstacles provide a creative challenge. With careful planning and the right compact furnishings, you can design around almost anything.

Design Considerations Before You Begin

Now that we understand the canvas let’s prep our materials! Here are my top design tips before tackling an under-stairs makeover:

Structural Limitations and Safety

Form and function must coexist under the stairs. Adding floating shelves is cool, but make sure they can support the weight of your antique book collection. If you’re building a lounge area, choose furniture with a slim profile that won’t protrude too far into the room. Solutions are always available; you must get creative with compact, multi-purpose furniture built for small spaces. Make safety a priority, too – incorporate railings on any stairs, and don’t overload electrical circuits.

Turn Your Under Stairs Into a Reading Nook

The Importance of Cohesive Design with the Rest of Your Home

This unique spot should feel like it belongs in your home, not stick out like a sore thumb. Maintain a cohesive style between your under-stairs oasis and the surrounding rooms. Repeat color schemes, materials, and textures for harmony. If your home is coastal-themed, add some decorative shells. For boho spaces, opt for woven textures and macramé. Repurpose a salvaged door or install wainscoting to match the rest of your home’s finishes.

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Lighting Will Make or Break the Space

The mood and functionality of your under-stairs spot rely heavily on lighting. Recessed cans provide illumination, while sconces flanking a reading nook deliver targeted light. For ambiance, try pendant lights or a string of Edison bulbs. Install them at varying heights to add visual interest. Smart bulbs can change color temp and brightness – great for transforming the vibe. And don’t forget task lighting! Add adjustable lights, like an architect lamp, for activities like puzzling or crafting.

Storage Solutions that Wow

For some of us, maximizing storage is the goal of an under-stairs makeover. Luckily, there are many ways to add function without sacrificing style:

Custom Shelving and cabinetry

Built-ins are the ideal solution for awkward areas like under the stairs. You can custom-design shelving and cabinetry to fit the space perfectly. Open shelving offers easy access to frequently used items, while cabinets neatly conceal clutter. For a unified look, match the finish and hardware to existing cabinetry in your home. Rise to the challenge and get creative – even curved custom cabinetry is an option!

Transform your under stairs into a fun and colorful play area for the kids.

Pull-Out Storage Units

Multifunctional furniture is a must for small spaces. Look for storage benches or ottomans with lift-tops to conceal blankets and board games. Install sliding drawers sized for letter bags or file storage. How about a rolling kitchen cart with baskets for all those spare lids and containers? The options for pull-out storage are endless!

Hidden Compartments + Secret Doors

Okay, this one satisfies my inner child. But really, what’s more magical than a secret space? Fake bookshelves that swing open, storage benches with hidden compartments, even cabinets with false backs or bottoms- these maximize every inch by tucking valuables away in discreet, surprising spaces. Add a touch of whimsy and mystery to your under-stairs oasis.

Create a Mini Library

For bookworms, an under-stairs book nook is a dream come true. Here’s how to create a cozy literary escape:

Shelving for Books

Start with shelving – lots of it! Built-in bookshelves work beautifully, fitted precisely to the unique angles of your stairwell. Mix floating and ladder-style shelves to add depth. Incorporate both open and enclosed storage. Curated decor like bookends and plants enhance the vignette.

Cozy Seating Options

A comfy chair is a must. Choose a slender armchair or loveseat to tuck neatly against the shelving. A pouf or floor cushions are also great flexible seating options. Add a pillow and throw for snuggling up with a good read. For more functional seating, try a storage ottoman or bench.

Under Stairs Home Office

Proper Lighting for Reading

Reading lights like sconces or swing arm lamps allow you to direct light precisely where needed. For ambient lighting, try pendant lights or recessed lighting on a dimmer. You can also install puck lights directly above shelving to spotlight book spines. The lighting options are endless!

Crafting a Compact Home Office Nook

For those working from home, carving out office space can be challenging. An under-stairs conversion makes for a private, focused work zone:

Desk + Organizational Systems

Tuck a petite desk or fold-down workstation under the stairs to conserve space. Customize with drawers, shelves, and bulletin boards for organization. For a modern look, incorporate a hanging desk or floating desktop. Add stylish woven baskets or bins to corral office supplies and paperwork.

Privacy Considerations

Block noise and distractions with a curtain or sliding door. Acoustic panels also absorb sound. A dedicated work zone helps you stay focused, especially in households with kids or pets. Delineate your office space with a slim bookshelf or room divider.

Ergonomic Setup

Don’t sacrifice comfort – an ergonomic workstation promotes productivity. Use a keyboard tray and invest in an office chair with lumbar support. Position your monitor at eye level to avoid neck strain. Add a footrest, laptop riser, and wristrest, too. Having the right tools makes work feel, well, less like work!

Use Your Under Stairs Space to Create Extra Storage

Designing a Petit Playroom for Kids

If you’re tight on square footage, an under-stairs play nook keeps toys out of the way. Here’s how to design a kid-friendly storage and play space:

Safe Storage for Toys

Start with lots of storage! Bins and baskets corral smaller toys. Use storage benches or an organizer with shelves and cubbies for more oversized items. Display favorite toys in open storage, like a bookcase. Sturdy toy boxes can also double as extra seating.

Kid-Friendly Decorations + Themes

Make it fun and playful! Choose a theme that excites your child – think outer space, a magical forest, or an underwater adventure. Paint or wallpaper one wall as an accent. Hang child-size curtains. Display books, puzzles, and games within reach. Sturdy area rugs define play zones.

Fun Elements

Add interactive elements like a chalkboard for drawing, a whiteboard for games, or a sensory table for tactile activities. Building a playhouse under the stairs makes an imaginative little hideaway. String lights overhead create a whimsical atmosphere for play and storytime.

Setting Up a Stylish Bar Area

Cheers to maximizing your under-stairs real estate! Here are two ways to craft a fully functional and fabulous home bar:

Built-in wine Racks and Glass Holders

Custom built-ins are ideal for organizing and displaying your collection. You can incorporate wine racks, glass holders, slim-open shelving, and cabinets or drawers for additional storage. Curves, angles, and lighting create visual interest. You should also include extra storage for bar tools and glassware.

Compact Refrigeration

The suitable fridge keeps drinks adequately chilled. Look for compact or under-counter beverage fridges designed for small spaces. For wine enthusiasts, consider a slim dual-zone wine fridge. If plumbing and ventilation allow, add a small wet bar sink for functionality.

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Under Stairs Mudroom

Tips for a Functional Yet Chic Design

Pay attention to details for a pulled-together space you’ll want to use. Incorporate a counter or bar cart for extra serving space. Use a rug to define the area. Mirrors visually expand the footprint. Sconces flanking the mirror provide task lighting for mixing drinks. Finish it off with barstools for seating if there’s room!

A Retreat for Your Furry Friends

Our four-legged family members deserve a space to call their own, too. Here are creative ways to design an under-stairs pet retreat:

Pet Bed Ideas

Customize a storage bin or crate with a plush cushion or pillow for an instant DIY pet bed. Repurpose a cabinet or dresser drawer for smaller pets who like cozy quarters. For cats, install a perch, hammock, or climbing shelf to add vertical space to the nook.

Feeding Station Designs

Keep food and water bowls contained and mess-free. Build a custom feeding station with storage for food bags. Or create a space-saving setup with bowls atop a compact cabinet or console. Stencil your pet’s name onto the cabinet front for added subtle charm.

Under-Stairs Pet House Inspiration

The space under the stairs is perfect for creating a pet home or sanctuary. Build your pet a custom cubby filled with plush blankets and toys. Use a baby gate to block off the area. Add metal accent latticework or bead curtains for an extra whimsical touch. Install a pet cam to check in anytime!

Bringing Greenery Indoors

As a plant lover, I’m obsessed with cultivating an under-stairs indoor garden. Here are some tips for getting your urban oasis thriving:

Best Plants for Low-Light

The inherent shade under stairs makes it an ideal environment for low-light plants. Great options include snake plants, pothos, Chinese evergreens, and philodendrons. Peace lilies also help purify indoor air. Mix in some hanging plants, such as a string of pearls or heart-leaf philodendrons, for visual interest.

How to style the space under your stairs

Maintaining Your Under-Stairs Garden

To ensure success, mimic the plant’s natural environment. Group plants with similar light and watering needs together. Use gravel or pebbles in planters to improve drainage. Position plants on decorative plant stands at varying heights for a visually appealing display. Set plants on drip trays to prevent water stains on floors. Use grow lights as needed.

Display Your Art and Collectibles

The angled walls and tight space under the stairs can be tricky for hanging artwork. But with a bit of creativity, you can display your masterpieces in style:

Floating Shelves for Exhibits

Floating shelves are perfect for displaying small sculptures, vases, framed photos, or other prized possessions. Stagger shelves at different heights and depths. Incorporate railings or glass shelves for a lighter, transparent look.

Spotlighting for Emphasis

Adequately lighting a collection draws the eye and creates visual interest. Use adjustable track lighting or sconces to spotlight specific items. For softer mood lighting, utilize recessed lighting or picture lights mounted above.

Rotating Displays for Flexibility

Collections grow and change over time. A rotating display system allows you to switch the artwork. Try a decorative turntable, rails for hanging artwork, or standing shelves that make rearranging easy.

What do you do with awkward space under stairs

Incorporating Seating and Lounge Areas

Tuck discreet yet comfortable seating options into your under-stairs oasis. You’ll be amazed how many options you have, even in tight quarters:

Built-in benches with Storage

Maximize space and seating with storage benches built precisely to fit your under-stairs footprint. Raise the bar a few inches to do baskets or storage bins underneath. Add a hinged lid or slide-out drawers for super-functional hidden storage.

Pull-Out Seating Options

When space is exceptionally tight, look for creative pull-out seating solutions. A slim rolling office chair can easily be tucked under a desk or table. An ottoman on casters serves as extra seating and storage. Even a drop-down wall bench creates an unexpected seating spot.

Cushions and Upholstery for Comfort

Plush cushions, pillows, and soft fabrics transform hard surfaces into comfortable seating options. Use removable cushion covers to change the look over time easily. Incorporate storage poufs that can be stacked when not in use. Dress up an essential bench with a custom cushion and some throw pillows.

The Ultimate Reading Corner

If you’re anything like me, carving out space for a reading nook is necessary. Here are the essentials for creating a quiet retreat under the stairs:

Essential Elements

To maximize space, start by placing a cozy chair or loveseat flush against the wall. Add a floor lamp or sconce overhead for ample reading light. Incorporate a small side table to hold your book and a refreshing cup of tea. Top it off with a plush rug, throw blanket, and plump pillows for pure reading bliss.

Custom Lighting Solutions

The proper lighting sets the mood and illuminates the pages. Install wall-mounted swing arm sconces for direct task lighting. Use Edison bulb pendant lights or lantern sconces for soft ambient lighting. You can even add puck lights along the edge of the shelving.

Accessorizing for Ambiance

Accessorize the room with items that soothe the senses to make the room feel indulgent. Try an essential oil diffuser, cozy textiles, or a tabletop fountain for tranquil sounds. Add personalized touches like family photos, meaningful artwork, or a display of your favorite books.

Lighting Up Your Under-Stairs Space

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of lighting in transforming any space. The varied ceiling heights and angles of an under-stairs spot present the perfect opportunity to get creative with illumination:

Recessed Lighting

Recessed can lights provide ambient illumination and are easily installed between exposed ceiling beams. Adjustable recessed lighting allows you to control the direction of light.

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Decorative Lighting

Pendant lights, sconces, or track lighting can make a design statement. Experiment with bold shapes, sizes, and materials. Position statement lights at varying heights for visual interest.

Smart Lighting

With color-changing intelligent bulbs, you can take lighting to the next level. Control brightness and color temperature from your phone to set the perfect mood and vibe. You can also utilize app-controlled features like automated schedules, timers, and lighting scenes.

Finishing Touches: Paint, Wallpaper & Textiles

Don’t overlook the importance of finishes and fabrics in taking your space to the next level. Have fun and get creative with patterns, textures, and bold colors:

Choosing Colors and Patterns

Define the purpose of your space, then let loose with colors and prints that excite you! Use tones that complement adjacent rooms or make the area pop as an accent with contrasting hues. Geometric patterns and bold stripes work beautifully on angled ceilings and walls.

The Power of Textures and Finishes

Textured wallpaper, shiplap wood, and exposed brick or tin ceilings add visual and tactile depth. Cozy blankets, plush pillows, and area rugs add comfort. Distressed paint techniques, like rag-rolling, add character. Chair rails, trim, and wainscoting provide polish.

Application Tips

Careful prep ensures your finishes turn out flawlessly. Fill cracks, sand down imperfections, spackle holes, and remove grease or dirt. Measure twice, cut carefully. Work in sections and let layers dry completely. Use painter’s tape for clean lines, and don’t rush!

Innovation with Technology

Smart gadgets introduce next-level convenience and functionality. Integrate tech seamlessly into your new space:

Integrating Smart Home Features

The area under the stairs provides the perfect place to tuck away intelligent hubs and devices. Install bright lighting you can control remotely from your phone or voice assistant. Add smart locks for keyless entry, a video doorbell for extra security, or a smart thermostat to regulate temperature.

Concealing Cables and Tech Accessories

Keep unsightly cords and gadgets organized and out of sight. Use cable management systems like wire channels or raceways to run cables neatly along baseboards and ceilings. Conceal power strips and tech accessories inside drawers or cabinets. A mounted tech station corrals devices in one place.

Audiovisual Setups for Entertainment

Tuck AV equipment like speakers, gaming consoles, or streaming devices out of sight while still connecting them to a central viewing area. Install a projector to display movies on the ceiling and opposite wall. Use IR-repeater systems to enable remote controls to function inside enclosed cabinets.

DIY Under-Stairs Decor Projects

Looking to add personal flair on a budget? Roll up your sleeves and get crafty with these do-it-yourself ideas:

Simple Upgrades You Can Do Yourself.

A fresh coat of paint immediately brightens up the space. Update lighting fixtures or install new ones like wall sconces or pendant lights. Add floating shelves for display space. Use peel-and-stick wallpaper for an instant transformation. Paint or stencil a fun mural.

Affordable DIY Storage Hacks

Maximize every inch with DIY solutions like a hanging shoe organizer, pegboard tool wall, or storage benches built from lumber and baskets. Repurpose items like crates, ladders, and dressers. Use budget materials like concrete blocks and boards for industrial shelving.

Handmade Decor That Adds a Personal Touch

Show off your personality with handmade decorations. Frame your favorite photos or kids’ artwork. Make wall hangings using embroidery hoops and fabric. Arrange a gallery wall with removable wall sticker frames. Craft unique lighting like a branch chandelier or dangling paper lanterns.

Showcasing Your Personality Through Decor

When designed thoughtfully, your under-stairs addition becomes an extension of your spirit and story. Have fun highlighting what makes you YOU:

Travel Souvenirs and Personal Items

Display treasured mementos from trips near and far. Frame vintage postcards, maps, ticket stubs, or stamps. Incorporate a trunk as a coffee table. Show off folk art finds and handmade ceramics. Create a gallery wall of photos capturing memorable destinations and adventures.

Themed Decor That Reflects Your Interests

Surround yourself with belongings and motifs that ignite your passion and spark joy. Super fans can showcase sports memorabilia or fantasy movie collectibles. Music lovers may choose vintage instruments, album art, and concert posters. Bookworms will relish literary accents and overflowing shelves.

Using the Under-Stairs Area to Tell Your Story

This intimate nook provides the perfect opportunity for self-expression.

You can display sentimental antiques passed down through generations, showcasing your family roots. Exhibit trophies, diplomas, or patents representing your proudest accomplishments. Include items harkening back to treasured phases of your life.


Hopefully, these tips sparked your creativity about reimagining practical yet often underutilized areas in your home. Spaces take on new life when we thoughtfully enhance them with purpose, storage, comfort, and personal touches. Don’t overlook the potential of your home’s unique nooks and corners. The most rewarding design projects transform previously wasted space into stylish, functional places that meet your needs and reflect your spirit.

Now, I’d love to hear from you – how will you customize your under-stairs zone? Did any ideas in particular jump out as perfect for your home? Are you excited to tackle this often neglected space finally? Share your under-stairs plans and completed projects! I’m always seeking new inspiration and can’t wait to see your beautiful transformations.