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Using All Of The Space

September 1, 2014 - news
Using All Of The Space

If your house has more than one floor, chances are good that there is a lot of wasted space above and below your stairs that is just crying out to be filled with stuff. Shelves underneath the stairs are easy, and something that I added when we first moved in. But after years of climbing up and down the steps and staring at all of that empty white space up there, I finally had to do something with it, so as a side project to my current family room remodel, I’ve conjured up an entirely new room right off the kitchen that I’m calling a butler’s pantry.

The floor is a piece of 3/4″ plywood made just a bit beefier with some 1x4s, connected with some heavy duty hinges to a 2×4 attached to the wall with lag screws into the studs. It rests on a matching 2×4 on the opposite wall, and I cut a notch out of the wood to allow room for the handrail. This was designed to hold a single person, but we’ve already tested it with two adults (300+ pounds) and it had no trouble holding us.

Once the floor is in place, you can assemble whatever kind of shelves or hanging storage containers you like. I used 3/4″ pine boards that will easily hold 50-100 pounds on each shelf. Add a few hooks to the underside of the shelves and you have a place to hang pots and pans, or dry herbs from your herb garden. Mmmm… smell the rosemary. For just a couple hundred bucks in lumber and hardware, maybe you should add a new pantry to your house too? Eat your heart out Pinterest!

[Update: 3/11/18] I added a couple of recent shots to show the current state of the pantry.

42 thoughts on “Using All Of The Space

Cindy

Looks great, excellent idea!

Reply
chuck

Very nice Jerry, impressive use of space.

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Nancy

I have the same empty space and have been looking on line, trying to figure out how to use it. This is perfect! My house is 480 sq. ft. and need all the storage I can get. Nice job!

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Linda

Exactly what I would like to do to my stairway!!! Perfect place for a pantry to hold dry goods, canned goods, pots pans !!! Free up kitchen cabinet space!

Reply
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  • Pam

    How does the door get up and down ? And how much does it weigh ?

    Reply
      snewpy

      Pam, we lift it manually and it probably only weighs 15-20 pounds – it’s not a full sheet of plywood.

      Reply
    Angie

    This is what Iโ€™ve been trying to figure out for
    26 years this spot in our house has been stumping
    Me. Thank you!!!!!!

    Reply
    Gretchen Noll

    What did you use to hang the shelves?

    Reply
      snewpy

      The shelves on the back wall are just sitting on screws that I put into the studs on all three sides.

      Reply
    Lori

    The hatch door over our steps was perfect until we tried to put the hinges on. The door wouldnโ€™t open and we would have to shorten the door, try it again and still no good? Any rules of thumb when binging it?

    Reply
      snewpy

      There’s an old carpenter’s saying – measure twice, cut once. ๐Ÿ™‚ The part that required some trial and error for me was notching the board around the handrail.

      Reply
    Constance

    How wide is your stair case? Wall to wall width.

    Reply
      snewpy

      It’s about 38″ wide. Why?

      Reply
        Constance

        Just wondering if it would work for ours. It is 37.5″. So I guess it would. Love the idea. Thanks

        Reply
          snewpy

          You can make it any size you need by cutting the plywood the right size. It took me a couple of times dry-fitting it to get it right, especially the notch around the handrail.

          Reply
            Anne

            This is brilliant! Hope I can get my husband to agree that this is exactly what we should do!

            Reply
            snewpy

            Glad you like it!

            Reply
    Jay

    Very cool idea, and it turned out so nice! One thing that would I would add is a sheet of vinyl or lightweight laminate flooring over the plywood to help keep it clean and make it look even more finished.

    Reply
      snewpy

      Yep, not a bad idea.

      Reply
    Brittani

    How much weight do you think that floor could handle? I want my husband to do this because I feel like we could fall down the stairs when walking in w/our crazy dog . My plan would be to have it down all the time unless we needed to go in the basement do you feel that could work?

    Reply
      snewpy

      If you use 3/4″ plywood, like I did, it will hold a lot of weight. We’ve had about 350 pounds on ours (two adults), but I bet it could hold a lot more.

      Reply
    Kathy Skeesick

    Do you or could you please take a pic of the plywood in the up position? Would like to see how it looks when not in use.

    Reply
      snewpy

      There is a photo on this page already.

      Reply
    Maggie Thomas

    How do you pull the floor up? I don’t see any handles or a strap or rope. Do you hook something into the hole that cut out to clear the railing?

    Reply
      snewpy

      I left a gap between the plywood and the top of the first step so I could reach in there and lift it up. Maybe I should include a video of us using it? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
    Denise McGraw

    Now I’m thinking of doing the opposite. I have stairs going UP… but nothing/empty below. I could rig a hatch at the landing; open it up and establish stairs going down;… into the…”don’t open the door and go down there” scenario. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
      snewpy

      I’d like to see that when you get it done. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
    John Eberly

    This is awesome I just did this in my stairwell as well. Nicely done!!!!!

    Reply
      snewpy

      Thanks! Glad you liked it.

      Reply
    Mary-Ellen

    This is such a wonderful idea. Will you come to my house and build it for me?

    Reply
      snewpy

      I probably don’t have time for another project, but thanks for the offer. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
    Brenda

    This is brilliant!

    Reply
    Sheila Martin

    A couple of years use! You are so neat and tidy. Excellent result.

    Reply
      snewpy

      Thanks Sheila!

      Reply
    Jess

    Thank you for the inspiration! We built this floor above our basement stairs to create a space for our cats to eat away from the dogs. I think we may even put in some pantry shelves/cabinets as well. Thanks again for the perfect solution!

    Reply
      snewpy

      Glad you like it, Jess!

      Reply
    Moose

    Perfect idea for home security for my staircase to the second story

    Reply
    Diane

    Doing this just encouraged more hoarding of stuff not needed or used. Itโ€™s a great thought if the person is not prone to hoard stuff just because itโ€™s a neat idea. I have a neighbor that did just that.

    Reply
    Natalie

    Very neat idea and the exact solution I was looking for. We have a small home that is chronically short of storage space and I don’t have a pantry. I do a lot of home cooking and gardening and I would love to have a spot to put cans and jars and boxes. I could line the upper area with narrow shelves just for cans and jars. The access to our attic is also in the worst spot in this stairway so there is no place to put a ladder to get up to it. That would solve that problem as well although we don’t ever go up into the attic for anything but maintenance.

    Reply
      snewpy

      Thanks, Natalie. Glad you like it. That is pretty crazy that they put the attic access in a stairwell!

      Reply
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