February 21, 2023

DIY Under Stairs Storage

When we bought our home in 2018 it came with a wet bar in the living room that I immediately knew we were not going to need. During our extensive renovation I asked the contractors to gut that space and leave it plain so we could have the space back. Then we were left with an awkward space under our stairs that I didn’t know what to do with. Our home also didn’t have a dedicated playroom space for toy storage so they were easily getting out of control in our main living area. I immediately thought DIY under stairs storage could be an awesome solution and solve our toy problem in one shot.

Before and after of an under the stairs nook. The before shows a wet bar under stairs, and the after shows a minimal storage solution.

A Solution for Clutter

My hope was by adding some infrastructure it would give everything a place eliminating the clutter. One challenge I faced is that this area is right off of our main living area so it has to be visually pleasing while still serving its kid toy storage focus. I am very inspired by clean Scandinavian design and gravitate towards white and wood tones. I searched for inspiration and landed on this wood slatted wall nook design! It has beautiful wooden slats, with open shelving and is visually appealing to anyone in our living area. Right now we are using this to store toys but I think it could be used as a decorative element as well. I love the Montessori approach to storing toys.

A closeup of the toy storage under the stairs shows light wooden slats on the wall behind three shelves, all storing some toys.

Below I will walk you through step by step how I implemented this under the stair storage design. This was one of the first woodworking projects that I ever attempted, so know that this is super beginner friendly. You only need a couple tools, some elbow grease, and you can make this come to life in your own home. I want you to feel empowered to make your home your own. If you don’t have the tools below on hand you can easily borrow from a friend (that is what I did! I actually didn’t own any tools when I did this project with the exception of a drill) or you can even rent them from you local hardware store. You’ve got this 💪

Supplies:

Tools:

DIY under stairs storage is pictured with toy shelves and wood slats on the wall

Slatted Wood Kids Nook Steps

Take Measurements

1. The first thing you will need to do is take the measurements of your nook, this will help you identify how many pieces of wood you will need to complete the project. I opted to use 1×2 boards with a .5 inch space in between each board. You can use a board and batten calculator to help you figure out how wide you want the spacing in between each board.

The measurements of the side and back of the nook are pictured

Cut the Wood

2. I gathered all my select pine wood pieces and cut them to fit the space. Which turned out to be harder than I anticipated, no one warned me there would be this much math involved. I haven’t taken a math class since 2011… but I made it through! Each board required two cuts – a traditional cross cut where you just bring the miter saw down cutting the wood to the correct size, and an additional cut at the top of the wood matching the angle of the nook. For the pieces of wood on the back of the wall this was an angled miter cut, and for the pieces of wood on the left size it was a beveled cut. It is important that all the boards are the correct size before they are sanded/stained/seal.I wanted to get all the boards cut to the right size before we nailed them into place. Watch this youtube video before you start measuring and cutting your wood to size. I opted to cut first before treating the wood that way there would be less to do overall.

  • A miter is an angled cut made across the face, or width, of a board.
  • A bevel is an angled cut made through the thickness of a board.
  • A cross cut is a 90 degree cut made through the face and width of the board.

Sand

3. Now that all of your boards are cut it is time to sand. I sanded all the slats. Even though I purchased the select pine and they felt smooth. Sanding the boards removes a yellow sheen that reveals the beautiful natural color of the pine. I highly recommend sanding all of your wood that will remain exposed before starting any project.

Stain

4. Let’s Stain! Because I wanted to keep the natural wood look, I used the stain simply white by minwax. I put on a light layer and wiped it off after 5 mins. This just cut down on the natural yellow color of the pine, making it  more neutral. Then because pine is a softer wood, I decided to put 3 coats of polyurethane on each piece. Talk about time consuming! But also kinda therapeutic? I put on a light coat, allowed for it to dry, sanded it down, and did it again. Will she ever stop sanding and staining? That is a question I kept asking myself. After the polyurethane I gave the boards one final sand until they were smooth to the touch.

A picture of the wood before and after being stained

Install the Slats

5. Time to install all of the slats. I pulled out my brad nailer nail gun and started putting the slats up and boy was that satisfying! I used a spacing board to ensure that each slat was the same distance apart. Watching all the slats fit just like pieces in a puzzle was one of my favorite parts. Once I got all the slats up and nailed to the wall I grabbed my natural and white putty from Minwax and filled the nail holes. 

Children are shown playing with the toys in the new DIY under stairs storage area

Install Shelves

6. Last, I installed shelves. I gave each of the shelves the same treatment as the slat, 1 coat of stain, 3 coats of polyurethane, sanding lightly between each coat. I used smaller pieces of wood to create brackets, installed those directly onto the slats, and laid the shelves just lay on top. Once the shelves were in place I used my nail gun and nailed down the top to the brackets to ensure it stayed in place. 

The shelves are pictured with more toys, and a wider shot of the room shows a Scandinavian-style living room area.

And there you have it, I have the kids nook of my dreams! I am so happy that this unused space under the stairs has become a completely functional space for our family. It is such a great feeling to have an idea and then execute it with your own two hands. Do you have a space like this? You can check out a video I made of the process on TikTok. Let me know if you have any questions.

@perkinsonparkway My first woodworking project that made me fall in love with DIY. You are more capable than you know! #diyer #womanwhobuild #womanempowerment #montessori #kidsnook #playroom ♬ World’s Smallest Violin – AJR

You can shop everything that I used for this project below along with some of my favorite Montessori Inspired toys. I think kids projects are some of my absolute favorites. Remember this kitchen makeover from last summer?!

If you would like to check out some more DIYs you can find them listed here! More interested in some design inspo? Check that out here. Thank you so much for reading and supporting Perkins On Parkway.

Meet Krystle

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