Under Stairs Closet Storage – The Reveal


Do you agree that closets are the first thing to get really out of control?

They're definitely the easiest place to shove the things you don't want to deal with and can quickly become a dumping ground.

In my quest to create a home I love, I've become really aware of the spaces in my home I avoid or really don't like being in. - There's nothing worse than walking into or opening a closet to get the things you need to do chores, and being met with an unorganized mess. Right?

That's what my understairs closet was… a total dumping ground mess of a storage closet with everything in it from suitcases to cleaning supplies, food, and backpacks.

So I decided to approach this storage closet like I do any room in my home, with my 3 step process, to make sure it's both functional and feels really good.

Doing so sets the intention for the space and makes it very clear what stays or goes into a space and what doesn't belong.

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Our Storage Closet Before The Makeover

It's very clear that our under stairs closet lacked organization in a big way. - I can't believe I ever let it get this way!

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Early on we installed large shelves in the back part of the closet to utilize the space and store large items like suitcases.

But these deep shelves ended up with a lot of random things shoved to the back and forgotten.

We also bought an inexpensive shelving unit that stored our overflow and bulk pantry items.

But once we turned the closet pantry in our kitchen into a fully customized built in pantry with shelves and drawers, the need for that much food storage in the under stairs closet was eliminated.

Under Stairs Closet Organization

The first step I took to get this closet organized was to key in on what this closet needed to be used for.

  • It needs to act as a sort of mud room for backpacks, jackets, and umbrellas and have those things be easy for the kids or us to grab and keep organized.
  • It needs to store suitcases, wrapping paper/gifting supplies, floor cleaning supplies, small coolers, paper towels, and our foldable table and chairs.
  • It needs storage for kitchen appliances, bulk snacks, drinks.
  • And a spot to put important but temporary papers that we need access to.

With that list of exactly how we wanted this closet to function I was able to gather under stairs closet ideas.

Here's what I came up with…

Deep shelves to store large items

We used the existing under stairs closet shelves to store large suitcases like we did before.

We used to store these out in the garage but they were often dusty when we'd go to use them. Having them in here keeps them easy to get out and put away and eliminates the dust issue.

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We also continued to use one of these shelves to store our small coolers and picnic basket.

We use these coolers a lot. Between our meals at the beach about once a week, baseball and soccer games, and meeting friends at the park for picnic dinner nights we're constantly packing and unpacking these coolers.

Having them right there and easy to get to is a must.

What I did do though, was get rid of the ones we didn't use often and eliminate everything else that had accumulated on this shelf.

Wrapping paper storage

The next thing I need handy is gifting supplies so I dedicated one shelf to wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, and tissue paper.

I saw a lot of gift wrapping storage ideas, but in the end I wanted to keep it simple and use items I already had to make this shelf function.

First I attached plastic bag holders to hold my rolls of wrapping paper.

Next I used a large plastic bin to stack my gift bags, and tissue paper in. It also had a small spot in the corner to keep my small spools of ribbon.

Now when I need to grab a gift bag I just pull this bin out like a drawer and grab what I need. - How's that for an uncomplicated storage solution?

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Storing folding chairs and cleaning supplies

And finally, I moved the original bottom shelf up a bit so I can put my folding chairs and table underneath. - Again, this is something that used to get stored in the garage, but I want it to stay clean.

Having this shelf higher up allows me to reuse the plastic shelf unit we were using as a pantry in there before.

This time it houses paper towels, cleaning supplies, and a few paper goods. - All I had to do was take off one shelf for it to fit nicely in here.

I also added a hook to hang my mop and broom.

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Adjustable Shelves

On the opposite wall I installed adjustable shelves to hold a few pantry items, drinks, and kitchen appliances.

I put the shelves almost all the way up to the ceiling to utilize as much space as possible.

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To store drinks I found these clear acrylic can holders and really like how they keep everything organized without it looking too cluttered in here.

Then I got matching acrylic bins to contain bulk snacks and keep everything from getting lost on the shelves.

pantry shelves in under stairs closetPin

And finally I used the top shelves to store small kitchen appliances like the Instant Pot and the Sous Vide accessories.

And I didn't get too fancy with the containers here.

I used gift box lids that I had on hand cause I liked the colors. - I'd thought about using the clear containers here but there are many smaller pieces in those boxes and it would have looked cluttered.

Back Pack Storage

And finally, this narrow hallway like closet has been a great place for my kids to hang their back packs.

We don't have a mud room since here in Southern California there isn't a need for many changes in clothing throughout the day, but having a specific spot for backpacks and some sports gear has been essential to the function of our home and these simple hooks do the trick.

Creating a drop zone is one of the first things I teach my students to create in my course The Declutter Method and I'm happy to say that even before this under stairs closet was this good looking…

… I'd trained my kids to walk in the door, take off their shoes and place them in a basket, and go straight to this spot to hang up their backpacks, deliver any important papers to me, and empty their lunch boxes.

I did add one more hook for my daughter's soccer bag and I also created a simple pin board out of leftover supplies from the giant cork board I made in my daughter's room to put any papers that need to be kept.

Decorating The Under Stairs Closet

My mom was over when I was hanging the decal I created for this space and she said… "only you and I would decorate a closet!" Ha!

When you make the shift to decorate your home for you, not for other people, an interesting thing happens. You start to create spaces that make you feel good, even if you and your family members are the only ones who see them.

I walk into this closet on a daily basis and we often start and end our day coming into here because it's where we hang up our things, so I want it to feel really good.

Brightening up the space with paint and lighting

I started by painting the walls and the ceiling with a fresh coat of bright white paint. - The white paint in there before had a definite yellow undertone and it wasn't good.

Next I changed out the lights. There are actually 2 lights in here and both had very yellow light that they gave off.

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So I switched out the flush mount ceiling light at the back of the closet with a new LED light and since our ceilings in here are tall I went with a more fun and decorative light fixture toward the front of the closet.

Painted pattern on the wall

When I was working on this space in real time over on Instagram and sharing the progress on my stories I got a lot of people messaging me that they loved the wallpaper!

It's actually not wallpaper, it's hand painted!

I took a small artists paint brush and some left over paint from another project and spent a couple hours painting rows of imperfect lines to get this really cool pattern on the wall.

I love the pop of unexpected color it ads to an otherwise everyday closet.

Quote wall art for one more unique touch

Finally, since this is where my kids go just before they leave for the day, I wanted to create a sort of street art style wall decal.

I found a company online that will create a decal out of whatever design you create and so I opened up canva, created this saying with the font and colors I wanted and had it made.

I just love how big it is and it's a really fun surprise when you walk in here.

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I'm no longer dreading walking into this closet and it's serving our family so much better than it did before!

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