Storage Stairs: Turning Steps into Drawers

By Todd Fratzel on Closets & Storage, Finish Carpentry

Storage Under Stairs

A guest post by Marcy Tate.

storage under stair caseDid you know that stairs can be made into storage drawers? It’s definitely possible to turn the unused, wasted space under the stairs and into storage space. Storage stairs create easily accessible storage space. Shoes, magazines, books, and more are the perfect size for these drawers. Innovative ideas for storage stairs are emerging all over the internet as this trend gains popularity with homeowners throughout the world.

A staircase that doubles up as a set of storage drawers is the most practical and functional way to re-purposing stairs. The idea for creating a stair and drawer system originated from yacht and boat interior designers looking to create innovative storage space where space was scarce. Japanese cabinet makers were the first to utilize the space under a staircase with the invention of the kaidan tansu, or stair-stepped storage cabinets. It was this invention that initiated interior designers and carpenters to create new and innovative stair and staircase storage. The first stair drawers are credited to the Australian company Unicraft Joiney, who just a few years ago invented these amazing storage drawers. Today, carpenters and DIYers all around the world are replicating their version of storage steps.

An advanced DIYer can install an under the stairs storage system. Installing a pull out drawer in a stair requires some carpentry knowledge and experience with installing tracks and glide systems. The basic steps include determining the dimensions, building the drawers, mounting the drawer slides and installing the drawer. According to Canadian Home Workshop, a Web site which provides instructions for building stair drawers, “It’s easiest to build these drawers if your stairs have open stringers. If they do, then you can get started on building the drawers. If your stairs have riser faces on the front of the stringers, you’ll need to remove them first. A few taps from behind will free the risers if they were nailed in after the treads. If the risers were installed first, remove the treads before tackling the risers. Take extra care removing the risers so you can use them to make the drawer fronts.” Most stair cases are structurally sound to handle this renovation. The space where a stair drawer gets installed is hollow, and so installing the drawer does not compromise the strength of the stair. If you suspect that your stairs may have any type of damage, such as rot or termite damage, then have the stairs inspected before installing drawers.


Marcy Tate is a home improvement blogger at Networx.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. juliet says:

    I did not thought about this until I’ve stumbled upon your article. The idea is great! We only have a small space at home and I can’t afford to lose another space for a cabinet. We already installed hanging cabinets to save the floor space but they are just not enough. You have just shared the most creative and practical way of making storage drawers or cabinets. I’ll definitely apply this concept to our house. Thanks so much!

  2. Marcy Tate says:

    Hi Juliet,
    Thanks for the positive feedback and I am so glad to be a help. You could also try utilizing the space underneath the stairs for storage. Good luck!

  3. James says:

    Looks Cool, and I’ve got a perfect place for them, but I would be concerned to note that steps are usually built on an incredibly strong foundation of stringers, etc. I would want very specific plans and design before I tried to build drawer stairs… Without that foundation the weight must be transferred correctly so that in a few years, they don’t turn into broken stairs.

  4. David says:

    This is a very innovative idea. I think its worth heading the concerns of James that these would need to be installed with due consideration but for house short of storage space this could be the answer.

    With stairs often near the entrance hallway of a house, shoe storage using this idea I think is very desirable.

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