how to organize your scary cupboard under the stairs

whether it’s a basement, pantry, or entryway closet, the dreaded under-stair cupboard feels impossible to organize—until now. read on for our tips to help you FINALLY tackle the most awkward space in the house.

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by Cora L Diekman

Entryway closets are notoriously difficult to organize.  They’re often overstuffed with coats, shoes, scarves, hats, bags, dog leashes, sporting equipment, and everything else we’d happily move into the imaginary mudroom of our dreams. Until then, make the best use of the space you have and customize it to fit your needs. Start by emptying everything from inside and taking inventory, sorting into like piles. Then prioritize and decide on a system that works for you. Lots of small items? Look for bins. Overflowing with shoes? Think shelves or over-the-door racks. And don’t be afraid to remove the one-size-fits-all coat rack that’s taking up valuable real estate—it’s usually poorly positioned and leaves room for little else.

For basement closets where you don’t plan to hang clothes, consider a customizable shelving system that works with the angle of the stairs above. These systems, available at home improvement stores (and also IKEA!) take the greatest advantage of awkward angled spaces, and provide optimum storage for shoes or small items contained in baskets and bins.

For additional

shoe storage

in an entryway closet, remove (or shorten) the coat rack and install individual shelves along the slope of the stairwell to take full advantage of floor to ceiling space.

Seek out non-traditional storage solutions (they totally exist!) like this specialized rod attachment for slanted walls and ceilings, which keeps clothing, coats, ties, scarves, and other hangable items in check.

Shelving systems designed for angled walls are ideal for under-stair pantries (or other spaces) where small items like canned goods or spices need to be clearly visible and easily accessed.

Consider wall hooks for keeping frequently used items at hand and make a bench work twice as hard by stashing shoes or storage bins underneath.

Consider adding a rolling cart for portable, easy access and even more storage.

Don’t forget about the door itself, which can provide even more storage. There are plenty of specialized behind-the-door organizers available, which can store anything from shoes to spices to cleaning supplies. We like the idea of hanging organizers inside the cupboard door to keep storage spillover extra tidy and out of sight.

When a traditional closet doesn’t offer the solutions you need, consider a redesign. Replacing an under-stair cupboard with customizable drawers that pull out offers the ultimate in storage and convenience.

If your cupboard needs to perform double duty, consider removing the door and converting the open space into a multi-purpose nook. Add shelving to facilitate storage, and double as an office, coffee station, or cozy sitting space.