The cupboard under the stairs

No, I’m not hiding Harry Potter under my staircase. But I did create some much needed pantry storage in the stairway that leads down to our basement. One of the quirks of our old house is that there’s no storage on the first floor – not a single closet.

Off the kitchen is a stairway down to the basement which is equipped with three large shelves and many hooks. This space would be ideal for storage but it was filthy. And I mean D-I-R-T-Y! Plus, the old owners left behind lots of funky basement items like plant food, bleach and old flower pots that were strewn along these shelves. When we moved it we shoved our grocery bags and a few other items in with the existing left-behinds and called it a day. Until last week when I couldn’t stand the mess another minute. I forgot to take a true “before” photo, but here’s what I was left with after clearing out the space.
Basement Shelving 001
Glamorous, eh? Once I got everything out I sorted the garbage from the good stuff. After getting rid of a full trash bag of things that weren’t even ours, I was left with a much more manageable amount of things to store. I started stripping the fake wood grain contact paper off the shelves. Not sure who’s idea it was to cover wood with faux wood paper but it seemed a little redundant. Then Tommy helped me remove everything from the walls (that wooden strip of hooks you see on the right, the fire extinguisher’s holder, a holder for screwdrivers) and we were ready to paint.
Basement Shelving 004
We had a gallon of paint left over from our living and dining rooms to use. The plan was to cover the walls and shelves with two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb gray then go over the shelves, trim and that row of hooks on the right with a semi-gloss white that we also had on hand (Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s white.) Here’s the after shot:
Basement Shelving 040
Look at all the functional storage space!! I was happier than the proverbial pig in mud restocking those shelves. There was so much more space than I had previously realized.
Basement Shelving 011.JPG
I was able to bring up all of our “Costco” items from the basement (toilet paper, tissues, oats, broth) and pull the extra cleaning supplies out from under kitchen sink. We use that little cabinet on the right to store some tools, tape and other miscellaneous items.

On the right we hung the broom and reusable grocery bags. Before we had no less than 100 bags, so I got rid of the ones we never use and hung one bag that’s ready for to grab for the grocery store (3-4 bags seems to be what we need most weeks) and stuffed the rest into another bag. It looks so much cleaner with just two sets of bags hanging.
Basement Shelving 026.JPG
On the bottom shelf we fit our iron, ironing board and steamer along with a bag of shopping bags and some things we had stored above our fridge.
Basement Shelving 033.JPG
It’s so nice to have everything laid out so I can see what’s actually there. The reason I have so many extra cleaning supplies is that I can’t always see what’s jammed under the sink. I would grab a refill at the store only to come home and realize I already had two bottles of glass cleaner tucked away.
Basement Shelving 009.JPG
It may not be the most gorgeous space in our home, but it’s incredibly functional and I’m so happy with how it came out. I woke up Sunday morning and ran straight down the stairs to the kitchen so I could open the door and peek at the fresh, clean, neatly-organized shelves one more time. (Does anyone else find themselves oogling projects once they’re finished? Or is that just me being a weirdo?!)


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