How can I build a closet in a stairwell?


I have no pantry. I don't mean I have a little one, I have NONE! Over the years, my cupboard space seems to have been taken up by my dishes, electric cooking gadgets, bakeware. Therefore my small amount of storage for canned and packaged goods is minute. I'm using an old side-by-side fridge at the moment but it isn't the best idea, I need a better space for canned and canistered food supplies. I have special dietary requirements (gluten-free vegan and no corn) so need to store cooking and baking ingredients make our edibles from scratch, there seems to be a lot of them, much more than for traditional cooking/baking.

How can I build a pantry? The only space I can see to do so would be over the back (lower end) part of a stairwell to the basement, and it would have to be raised enough to give head clearance going down the stairs...(there's a beam going across the top at the bottom end of the stairwell, so tall people already need to duck, it's about 73 inches to the bottom of it of the beam from the top of the bottom step. I figure I'd need to go about 6 inches or so higher than the kitchen floor, which would give a headspace of 76 inches. I would need to take out the wall there at the moment...and build a platform across, then build the pantry in. There is an outlet I can tie into for light....

I have no way to post photos, but it's a typical fairly steep set of basement stairs, about 34 inches to the back wall from where it would open...height to the ceiling is approximately 86 inches. I could make it with shelves receding back over the stairs or straight across, but there is no safe way to reach shelves on the outside of the closet from the stairway, if a closet is made.

Thanks for sharing hints and tips and help! Blessings to each one.

  4 answers
  • Pamela Pamela on Jan 13, 2019

    Hi ! I am in the same boat ! Very little cabinet space and no pantry !!! And I don't have stairs, to try to build under . I can give you my solution , what I did ...

    I built a wall pantry . I used a small area on my wall , less than 3 feet wide !

    I put up 5 shelves , I used plumbing pipe for supports and reclaimed wood for my shelves. Now I put all my dry goods staples rice , pasta , flour , oatmeal , sugars , and the like , in glass and plastic jars on the the shelves. I made tags for some of jars to distinguish like looking things like baking soda and baking powder . But now the shelves look nice , I used one shelf for plates , bowls , & cups . And things are not only in reach but I can see what items I am running low on & the best part is , now I have more room in my cabinets ! Good luck !!!

  • Oliva Oliva on Jan 13, 2019

    Hi, Christie,

    Could you instead mount shelving along the sidewalls of the staircase, then install cable wire or wood moulding along the shelving's front edge to prevent cans, etc. from falling?

    • Christie Decker Christie Decker on Jan 14, 2019

      Hi Olivia- I'm not sure what you mean. The stairs are narrow, so no way to put shelves along the wall next to them if that's what you are thinking....Thanks!

    • See 2 previous
    • Christie Decker Christie Decker on Apr 19, 2021

      Those are nice under the stairs themselves...what I am looking for is to use the upper space over the do I explain the stairs go down, the space over and above them is unused...I have a set of stairs going down into the basement. It is enclosed by a wall along the side. That wall is in the kitchen. I would like to turn that empty space above the stairs into a pantry with shelves so I can put my kitchen equipment and food items into it, so my counter shelves don't have to hold it all.

      So, at a right angle to the wall, is the doorway down into the cellar. The back end of the stairs, the lower end in the basement, has the ceiling the same height as the front end or top of the stairs. I want to take that unused space and make a pantry there...that's what I am needing help in understanding how to do...Thanks everyone. I know what I am seeing in my mind's eye may not be translated well in my words so that you can see it in your mind's eye...Blessings!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jun 04, 2021

    Hi there,

    Why not call in a Builder or two and ask them for a price to do the job for you? You can discuss the problem in detail and ask them what they suggest, and how they could do it, how long it would take to finish. Compare what they had to say and either go with one of them or if you think you could do it yourself - go ahead!