DIY Network

How to Build a Closet Under a Staircase

Wasted Spaces host Karl Champley knows how to find space just about anywhere – and he says the area under staircases is a prime spot to find extra room.

More in Remodeling

  • Time


  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Frame the Door

Use 2x4s to frame the door opening if a frame isn't already in place. Base the frame dimensions on the size of the door.

Step 2: Install the Door

Slide the pre-hung door into the framed opening and secure the hinged side first. Remove one screw from each door hinge and replace it with a longer screw that extends into the wall stud, then attach the latch side of the door casing.

Step 3: Create the Closet Walls

Measure the walls of the closet. Cut the plywood to those dimensions and install the plywood by nailing it to the studs. For this project, Karl used 1/2" plywood, which he painted white to make the closet brighter.

Tip: Paint the plywood before it is installed. A few visible nailheads don't matter much compared to the convenience of painting outdoors instead of inside a tiny closet.

Step 4: Design the Closet Interior

Design the closet interior. Measure the available space and the storage containers that will go into the closet. Sketch out a design for shelves that will hold the desired containers, leaving extra space to make it easier to remove the containers. For this project, the shelves are spaced to accommodate storage bins 12" tall, so the shelves are spaced 13"-14" apart.

Step 5: Install the Ledger Strips and Shelves

Install the ledger strips. Use a nail gun to tack ledger strips all the way around the closet to support the shelves, making sure each strip is level and properly lined up. Secure the strips with screws.

Install the shelves. Cut shelves to fit the closet from 1/2" plywood. Paint the shelves, let them dry and slide them into place. Since the shelves are a tight fit, slip them in at an angle and flatten them down over the ledger strips.