Book nook under the stairs

It might be small and not very significant in the big picture of our rehab project, but we have officially finished one “living” space of our house!  As we mentioned in our previous post, our top priority recently has been to finish all storage spaces so that we have places to put things as we slowly unpack.  An area that had a little bit of storage potential but a lot of fun potential was under the staircase.

Utilizing this space was something we knew we wanted to do way back when we first designed the layout for the new stairs.  Amy and I have always enjoyed house that have unusual spaces, nooks, or personalized layouts.  It is also important to us for there to be kid-friendly spaces in every room, not just the playroom and kid’s bedrooms. We want our kids growing up in a playful house that is as much theirs as it is ours.

Here is what the area under the stair landing has looked like for the past several months…


paint storage

Once we got everything cleared out and cleaned up, here was our starting point…

all ready for work

Notice that we remembered to include this on the list of areas to be drywalled last winter.  We also had the foresight to add an electrical outlet so that we could plug in lights.

Last winter we needed some flooring to create a new floor at the top of the basement steps.   Some of that flooring came from this space under the stairs.  I had already covered the open area with plywood (as you can see in the photo above), but this created an uneven surface for the floor.  The first thing I needed to do was install more plywood to cover the whole area and create an even floor.  Luckily, I had several pieces of 3/4″ plywood just waiting to be put to use.

The big element that we wanted to add to this space to make it more useful was a bookshelf.  I was able to use a combination of scrap wood and salvaged wood from the old staircase.  There was some work to do to create framing for the bookshelf underneath the first few steps of the staircase, but I was able to configure something that functioned well enough.


To give the space a more finished look I went ahead and used some scrap 1×6 to make baseboards.  Once I had completed the bookshelf and baseboards we were ready for Amy to prime and paint.  We obviously needed to add carpet, so we used old FLOR tiles (a type of modular rug that you assemble from customized squares) and cut them to fit perfectly.  I added shoe molding to the baseboard and then did a little touch-up with caulk and paint.

We added light to the space with some white twinkle lights, filled the shelves with books and toys, and added a few decorative touches.

Here is the view from the doorway…


My first-ever custom built bookshelf…  Nothing fancy, but it’s solid, level, and square.


The last step was to add a door.  Once again, this was something we had figured out more than a year ago.  We wanted to use the upper doors from the closet doors that were removed to make way for the stairs.  One of those doors was re-purposed for the basement stairs…


…but there wasn’t another place in the house that could use the other matching door.  The book nook was the perfect way to utilize the beautiful set of upper doors (the ones that are open in the above picture) and we made sure that the framing for the wall of the stair case included a rough opening that would accommodate these doors.  When the stair case is finished (which I’m convinced will never actually happen) we will finish trimming out the doorway to the book nook.

These old doors work perfectly!


The latches could be removed and cleaned up, but everything works smoothly already…



Here is another shot of the outside with the doors open…


and a view from the inside with the doors closed…


And finally, an action shot of Lucy enjoying the new space…


It might seem silly to focus on a space that could be viewed as frivolous while we are still buried in unpacked boxes and a long list of rehab jobs to accomplish, but this was a much-needed morale boost for us.  It was something relatively small, instantly gratifying, and currently one of the few cozy kid-friendly spaces in our house.  Lucy always seems to gravitate to the new book-nook and loves to bring little figurines with her. Our hope is that we can continue to create unique and interesting spaces like this one throughout the rest of our house.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Twila says:

    Frivolous or not, it’s a bite out of the elephant. I’m sure seeing the finished product just gives you great motivation to continue eating away at the elephant. You guys have done an amazing job!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a dead ringer for the “play closet” my dad built in my bedroom when I was little. At that time we lived in a Cape Cod so there were long and low closets under the eaves. He laid brown wall to wall carpet that was left over from God knows where. Your carpet tiles are much cheerier.

    Liked by 1 person

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