Introduction: Big Stylish Storage Over Stairs

About: I like to make things. Art, inventions, tools, ukuleles, etc...

Our house used to have a large chunk of wasted space above the stairs from the first floor to the second. It was empty all the way to the second floor ceiling. I decided to build in storage shelves and giant drawers for bedding and bathroom supplies. It turned out to be a really great addition.

Step 1: Mock Up the New Ceiling Height Above Stairs

Mock up the new ceiling height above stairs to get a feel for how high it needs to be. I put up some light-weight materials to play with the height and live with it for a few days to see if it would bother anyone.

Step 2: Mark Where New Storage Will Be

I used black tape to mark the wall.

Step 3: Remove Plaster and Lath Where New Storage Will Be

This is always messy. Protect the floors with drop cloths to collect the heavy debris. I built a temporary platform over the stairs to catch the plaster when I knocked it out from above. Then I hauled it to the dump in IKEA shopping bags which are perfect for the job.

Step 4: Frame in New Storage

I designed the spacing of the shelves to fit with the big translucent storage tubs we use for out of season clothes and other crap. The supports for the shelves and drawers are screwed to the wall with drywall screws.

Step 5: Add the Shelves

I had a supply of mdf shelves (9” wide x 4’) that I used for the shelves. Plywood would probably be better and lighter.

Step 6: Frame in for Giant Drawers

I created some drawer glides out of wood and 2” rubber wheels and some ball bearings. 

Step 7: Build Giant Box Drawers

I first built the frame pieces for the drawers and clamped them together while fitting them into the space. Then I glued and nailed ¼” plywood to the frames to make the boxes. They are very light for their size. Light duty as well. We don’t put heavy things in them. Blankets and pillows, etc...

Step 8: Build the Shelf Drawer

Because of its height the third shelf opens from the side instead of the top, and so is designed differently with shelves of its own. We keep bathroom supplies on them.

Step 9: Build the Shoji Doors

These were fun to make. I ripped some clear pine boards into ¾”x ¾” strips and used half lap joints cut on the table saw. When the fit was right I glued Japanese mulberry shoji paper to the doors. After the glue was dry, I lightly misted the paper with water. This makes them dry nice and tight and smooth. 

Step 10: Build and Install Paper Ceiling Above Stairs

For the new ceiling above the stairs I wanted it to be removable in case I ever need to service the drawer glides. I made four big single frames and put specially folded paper on them. They hang invisibly from pins that slide into the wall framing. To fold the paper I devised a sort of break bender. Then I glued it to the frames.

Step 11: Done!

This project goes a long way toward making an old house with limited storage much more usable. We love it! 

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