Extra Space: How To Build Under-Stairs Cupboards Easily

Carrying out a DIY project is always undoubtedly the best option when it comes to saving money. If you are a homeowner with a small house, building an under-stairs cupboard is an excellent way to save space and add extra storage to your home by using otherwise unused space. Storage choices range from a basic built-in shelf to fully disguised, pull-out shelves and soft-close drawers, with something to suit everyone’s needs and budget.

Custom built pullout cabinets on glides in slots under stairs

With basic equipment and materials, most under-stairs storage ideas can be implemented by a dedicated DIY enthusiast. You will learn in this article how to plan ahead and measure your space carefully so that you end up with a flawless cupboard. 

Planning your project

A basic cupboard project does not require a large number of tools and is an excellent choice for under-stairs storage solutions. This should cost anywhere between £100 to £200. Whether you are planning a small or a big storage cupboard, you are going to need the following materials:

woodwork tools

Step-by-step guide: How to build under-stairs cupboards

Once you’ve gathered all the materials and tools, it’s time to take a look at the steps that you need to follow:

1. Look for studs in the wall underneath the stairs 

Use a stud finder and place it against the wall beneath your staircase. Slowly run it along the edge of your wall until the light comes on or a beeping sound is heard. Make a pencil mark on the stud’s placement so you know exactly where it is.
Continue to designate studs beneath the stairwell so you can position your box shelves. Knock on the drywall and listen for a substantial sound behind it if you don’t have a stud finder. If it sounds hollow or echoes, then there isn’t any stud.

2. Draw boxes on your wall to indicate where you want your cupboard to go

When drawing lines, use a straightedge as a guide to ensure that they are straight and level. To gain the most storage, place the sides of the box directly on the studs’ edges.

Take a few steps back from the wall and examine the box layout to determine if it’s to your liking. Make a note of the measurements of your boxes so you don’t forget. You can make the boxes as tall or as short as you like. The boxes must fit beneath the stringer of your staircase, which is the angled bottom support.

3. Cut through the drywall with a hand saw

Cut a hole in your drywall along the edge of one of the studs. To cut off the outline of the boxes, run the blade of your saw along the edge of the stud.

Keep your cuts as straight as possible to avoid damaging the other drywall in the area. Pull the drywall away from the wall once you’ve cut out the whole outline of the boxes.

You can also go for a reciprocating saw to speed up the process. 

4. Cut pieces of plywood to fit the measurements of the box openings

To make your boxes 45-60 cm deep, get enough 1.3 cm plywood or MDF for the size of your boxes. Draw the pieces for all of the boxes on your plywood so that you can easily cut them out along the outlines.

Place the wood on a flat surface and cut out the pieces with a circular saw. You can also cut the wood using a hand one, but it will take longer and the lines will likely be crooked. 

To safeguard your eyes, use safety glasses whenever you use power equipment.

Samples of laminated board and MDF.

5. Assemble the plywood pieces into boxes using 5 cm screws

To build a rectangle frame that fits in the hole you cut, dry-fit the box’s sides together. Once the frame is cut to size, secure the pieces by screwing the edges together every 10-15 cm.

To build the back of your shelf, place a flat piece of plywood on top of the frame and screw it along the edges. Continue to build the additional boxes in the same manner.

Test the fit of the boxes in the holes under your steps on a regular basis to ensure they are snug and that the cupboard is fitting. 

Only five sides should be present on the boxes. Allow space for goods to be placed inside by leaving the front open.

6. To install shelves, drill parallel sets of holes on each side of the boxes

Begin the first hole 7.5–10 cm from the box’s bottom edge, and 5 cm from the front edge. Drill 0.65 cm into the plywood while holding the drill perpendicular to the wood.

Make a second hole at the same height as the first one, 25–30 cm apart. Make parallel sets of holes every 7.5 cm until you get a straight line. Repeat on the opposite side of the box, aligning the holes across from one another.

If you want taller shelves or don’t plan to alter them, you can space the holes wider apart. Place a sheet of pegboard on the side of the box to serve as a guide for where your holes should be drilled.

7. Screw the boxes into the studs every 15 cm

Fill the hole in the wall with the box, making sure the edges are flush with the drywall. Insert a 5 cm screw into the inside of the box so that it lines up with the stud.

Continue to add screws every 15 cm down the height of the box on each side to keep it secure. Carry on with the process for any additional boxes you need to set up.

It is a good idea to have somebody nearby to help you keep everything steady so that the boxes don’t tumble out of place while you screw them in. 

Place spacers between the studs and the box to close the gaps if the box is too small for the hole in your wall.

man hand using manual screwdriver and screwing screw in board of opened drawer

8. To hide the seams, add a trim around the outside border of the box

To avoid clashing, choose wood trim that matches your living room‘s interior design. Cut the trim with your circular saw so that the pieces are the same size as the box outlines.

Hold the trim against the box’s edge to hide any exposed sides. To secure the trim to your studs, use 5 cm nails or screws. Adding wood trim is optional of course, but if you don’t, the exposed drywall margins will show.

9. Place shelf pins in the boxes where you want your cupboard to go

Shelf pins feature a flat end that supports the shelves and a rounded end that goes into holes. Get shelf pins that will fit into the holes you bore on the box’s sides and push them into holes that are across from each other.

Set the pins to the same height as the shelves you want to create and make sure the flat sides are parallel to the bottom. If you use shelf pins that are too small, they will fall out and your shelves will not be supported.

10. Place pieces of plywood on top of the pins 

Measure the inside width of your boxes to determine how long your shelves should be. Using your saw, cut 1.3 cm plywood to the same width and depth as your boxes.

Slide the plywood inside the box so that it sits on the shelf pegs and is snug against the sides. To make sure the shelf doesn’t wobble or come loose, press down on the top of it. If the shelf wobbles, make sure the pins are at the same height. You can put as many shelves as you wish.

How to use your new cupboard

You can use your new under-stairs storage unit for whatever you want after it’s installed, such as:

1. Extra office storage

With careful planning, the empty area beneath the stairs can be transformed into a fantastic workspace. You will be amazed to learn that you can actually fit all of your office supplies, which in turn can complement your home office

2. Cleaning supplies

Okay, it’s not the most spectacular application, but putting cleaning supplies, vacuum cleaners, mops, and sweeping brushes beneath the stairs makes sense because it frees up space in other areas (usually the kitchen and cabinetry) and keeps everything organised.

3. Toys

If you have little children, your home is likely to be overwhelmed with toys, teddies, and books. Adding extra storage is the ideal solution, which can simply serve as a playroom arsenal for them.

4. Extra space for coats and shoes

Hanging jackets and hiding shoes is a frequent application for under stair storage, which helps to clear up an otherwise congested doorway.

Consider mixing shelving and coat hooks at varying heights for adults and children if you’re planning to use your under-stairs space for coat and shoe storage.

5. Pets

Getting a pet comes with a bunch of extra items, like leashes, collars, harnesses, and toys, not to mention all of the pet food.

Using under stair storage for pet items is a smart option since it keeps kitchen cabinets and drawers from being overcrowded and consuming valuable living space. When putting dog or cat food under the stairs, be careful to keep it well sealed. 

Consider including an extra shelf or workbench into your project to serve as a “feeding station”, making it much easier to feed pets.

White under stair storage cabinet

Your new home cupboard is ready to use. This is a simple project that most capable DIYers can complete. Making the most of the wasted space beneath your stairs is a brilliant challenge that anyone can try! Don’t waste another minute! Go give this a try!

Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend