A closet under a stairway can be a tricky part of your home to organize and maintain order in. I have a closet under my stairs and it turned into a black hole. However, I recently remodeled the closet myself and want to share the process. I did all the work myself and spent less than $200. Keep reading for how to remodel your under the stairs closet on a budget to create a useful storage area in your home.
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We moved into our home 6 years ago. The closet under the stairs at that point was a useless mess. It had one shelf and a bar for hanging something. We have a coat closet, so it didn’t need to hang coats. So, it became a black hole. It stored some luggage, cleaning products, vacuums, and just any random thing that didn’t have a home.
Here is the “before” of the closet, I warn you, this is real life.
Step one to remodel an under the stairs closet: Figure out what you want
Figure out what you need from your closet. Under the stairs closets can have many different uses. I have seen people turn these closets into mini offices! I needed to store cleaning products, paper towels, some bulk food items (cooking oils) and other items that I use on a daily basis. If you have smaller items to store (like cans of food, cleaning items) then your remodel may look different than if you are storing bulk items.
My closet was a black hole, no function, no organization. I hated opening the door and didn’t want anyone to look in the closet.
Step two to remodel an under the stairs closet: Empty the space
Take everything out and clean. Really- everything needs to come out. I found so many things in the black hole of my closet. So many things had better places to be in my house (luggage went in my shed, extra cleaning products in the garage, extra reusable bags in the car).
I cleaned the floors (which had probably not been cleaned in 6 years). Then I measured and measured again. I drew out the closet and then brainstormed.
I am not a carpenter and have limited tools, so I was not going to be building a new built in closet. I considered a wire shelving system but those can get expensive. I put those systems in my kids closets, and just wanted to do something different in this closet.
So, I knew I would need to purchase some type of shelving unit. Two short Billy bookcases fit the space perfectly. But just to be sure, I laid out where the bookcases would fit with masking tape so I could visualize the bookcases in the space. I wanted to make sure I had enough room to actually walk into the closet before I purchased the book cases.
If you don’t have an Ikea near you, you can check out Amazon for some great items. I found a few similar bookcases which could work for your closet:
I went with white for my closet in order to make the space look as large as possible. If you have a little more room, a darker bookcase could look rich.
These bookcases look great and did not require drilling into the walls. I thought about putting up shelves or a wire closet system. But after spending so much time patching holes I did not want to put more holes back into the walls.
Step 3 to remodel an under the stairs closet: Painting
Paint the walls. While everything is out of the closet you should paint. I had to paint my closet- I had a feeling the closet had not been painted since 1984 when the house was built. Luckily I had paint left over from painting my bedroom. Ideally, I would have used an eggshell finish which was better for rooms that get scuffed up. But I had a beautiful matter white and blue, so that it what I used. I loved how the blue came out, using blue on the back wall highlights the depth of the closet and gives the space some visual interest.
After taking out the old shelf and bar, I had a lot of patching. I had to patch, sand, patch and sand again. It may just be a closet but I wanted it to look nice when done.
You can see in the picture below, before I painted, I outlined the walls with tape where the bookcases would go. This helps me visualize the final product and to confirm the bookcases would fit. You can also see I had a lot of work to do with patching and painting.
After I painted, you can see the difference:
Step 4 to remodel an under the stairs closet: Assemble time
Assemble the pieces for your closet. I put together two Billy bookcases in less than 2 hours. Then I surveyed the closet again to figure out what other storage I would need. I realized I needed some baskets for the shelves and some hooks to hang items- those little finishing touches for the closet.
Step 5 to remodel an under the stairs closet: Finishing Touches
I added motion sensor/wireless lights to the bookcases. The closet doesn’t have any lights, but the closet is in the kitchen which gets a ton of natural light during the day and has a lot of overhead lights. The lights add a high end feel for an affordable cost. I really like the look of the lights and that I did not have to hire an electrician to add in lights. Here are the lights I ended up purchasing:
Command hooks have become a favorite decor tool for me this year. In the closet I got hooks for my mop and duster. I also got hooks for my kids backpacks. I love keeping things off the floor in the closet. I need space to walk into the closet, so having nothing on the floor is critical and keeps the closet looking nice.
Here are the hooks I bought for my kids backpacks:
Here are the hooks I bought to hold my mop and duster:
I really wanted to keep things off the floors and these hooks will help me do that.
Step 6 to remodel an under the stairs closet: Show it off.
Seriously, I have shown off this closet to everyone in my life and now the internet.
I was able to redo this closet for under $200 and it is perfect. If I had power tools and saws I would have built a custom system. But I’m an attorney turned stay at home mom. I have no real construction skills besides what I have learned on hgtv. But I was able to redo this closet and you can do yours too.
Disclaimer: Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.