If you are short on storage space and have searched around for someplace in your house to use more effectively, one thing that may not have occurred to you is to better utilize the space under your stairs. Many houses with one or more flights of stairs have a space under the stairs that is underutilized, and sometimes a house has more than one such location. Space under the stairs in an unfinished part of the house like in a basement is easily organized by installing open shelving, but more often than not, this option is overlooked and the space is relegated to a jumble of boxes and cobwebs.
Up until recently, what the average builder incorporated into the space under the stairs in a finished part of a new house was a door leading to an awkward triangular closet. Anything that was stored first at the other end of such a closet rarely, if ever, saw the light of day again.
Utilizing storage cabinetry under the stairs is traditional in Japan, and similar storage systems have developed in England and Europe, where smaller-scale housing has been built for many years, much of it dating from before people had as much to store as they now do. Americans who find themselves in the same predicament have taken some inspiration from overseas, and there are now companies whose sole business it is to optimize under-the-stairs storage space.
The approach that has been shown to be the most effective in utilizing this space is a combination of drawers and cabinet space that are accessed from the side of the stairs. The doors or drawer fronts of the cabinetry are constructed so as to compliment the décor of the rest of the house and conform to the slope of the staircase. Some of the designs feature space for hanging coats, and rolling storage bins that allow for independent access to the items from more than one side. Each storage system is highly personalized, depending on what sizes and types of items are to be stored, and how much flexibility the owners want built into the system.
Since new housing with under-the-stairs storage as a standard option is just starting to be built in this country, most systems that are installed today are retrofitted. This entails some major, if localized, renovation, including reframing and electrical or other mechanical system rerouting. The complex and expensive nature of this kind of work has kept under-the-stairs storage in the high-end remodeling category, and has significantly slowed its introduction and acceptance.
Similar to other casework in a house, such as kitchen and vanity cabinetry and living room built-ins, under-the-stair storage can be worth a lot more than the money you put into it in terms of making your house more livable. Also, it has a positive effect on how your house "shows" when you eventually put it up for sale, which makes it a good investment. You're likely to be seeing a lot more of this amenity in the future.
Photo credit: http://www.vitsoe.com