How to Create a Beautiful and Functional Storage Space

While there’s no such thing as too much storage, there’s also no reason a storage space can’t be beautiful and functional. You guys have asked me to share more insight into my design process and how we bring these visions to life, so today I’m pulling back the curtain!

Evaluating the Space

If you follow us on Instagram or YouTube or have browsed our blog, you’ve likely seen Part 1 of our DIY Under Stairs Project where we built some awesome pullout drawers! It’s been almost a year and we couldn’t be happier with the accessibility and functionality of that project. Let’s consider this Part 2 of our Under Stairs Makeover and I’m excited to share what I have in mind for the design!

Under stairs storage

Right now this section of our understairs serves as a catch-all for many miscellaneous household items. We definitely will be purging heavily to reduce the clutter. The first step in redesigning this space is determining how we plan to utilize it moving forward. The overall goal includes having a coat rack, shoe storage, cabinets and shelves for household items, and a closet for cleaning tools and luggage.

Choosing a Color Palette

After I’ve settled on the functional details of the space, I then move on to the aesthetics which is obviously, my favorite part! Specifically with this under-stairs makeover, my first aesthetic decision was whether to go light and bright or dark and moody with the color palette. My default aesthetic is dark and moody, but with no natural lighting under the stairs, I felt light and bright made more sense. Don’t get me wrong though, I will always find ways to include dark accents!

Green tile bathroom with wooden vanity and white sink.
White kitchen with black backsplash and countertop.

Now that I’ve decided to go light and bright (with some dark accents), I needed to figure out if I was also going completely neutral or including a pop of color. Green is my favorite non-neutral color and it’s usually my first choice. However, if you were around for our Mudroom paint fiasco, you saw how drastically a color can change when there’s no natural light. I didn’t want to deal with that hassle again, so I decided on a neutral palette of white, wood, black, and maybe gray for our beautiful and functional storage space.

Creating a Mood Board

I think it’s safe to say that most of us are visual people. Creating a mood board is a great way to know if your color palette will work. Below I’m sharing my current mood board of what I’m thinking for the under-stairs makeover project. Next, we’ll dive deeper into each component, with links to some of the products we want to use.

Under stairs storage project mood board


The flooring on our main level is primarily tile, but our under-stair space is carpet. While I love the comfort and coziness of carpet in bedrooms, I’m a big fan of tile or wood in all other areas of the home. Therefore, we want to replace the carpet with a luxury vinyl plank (LVP). We’ve used LVP in the past in several projects which you can check out below:

DIY Playhouse || Dining Room Accent Wall || Guest Bedroom TV Wall

Africa White Porcelain Tile
Under stairs storage project luxury vinyl flooring option
LVP in outdoor Playhouse

I hope our current porcelain tile flooring won’t clash with the LVP. Luckily our under-stairs storage is behind a closed door, so I’m not too worried. I originally wanted a chevron layout but unfortunately, it’s not in stock, so we’re going with the more traditional planks. The particular one I thinking of using is from Lifeproof, in the color Cherry Dusk which is warm and rustic.

Coat and Shoe Rack

I love the simplicity of our Mudroom coat rack, so I plan to recreate that same design as part of our under-stairs makeover. Pole wrap is a recent obsession of mine! I think it’ll add dimension and be a great asset to creating our beautiful and functional storage space. I going with a simple open shelving system for shoes which will pair nicely with the pole wrap coat rack.

Under stairs storage project pole wrap coat rack.
Under stairs storage project open shelving shoe rack


The shortest area in our understairs storage has a height of about 6 feet. Bernard will build one full-length cabinet, 3 lowers, and 2 uppers which should create more than enough storage! As for the cabinet design, I think either a clean door front or a small shaker-style detail would be perfect.

Countertop and Backsplash

Is it unusual to include a countertop and backsplash as part of this storage design? Sure, but that’s ok because I like what I like and this is part of beautifying an otherwise overlooked space. I love black countertops and what better project to try something new than with one that’s not always visible?! In fact, when we do renovate our kitchen, our countertops will be black so this is a great way to test the waters! I fell in love with an engineered composite product that looks and feels like stone. The color is Black Amani with a satin finish and it’s a very durable product.

White kitchen cabinets with black countertop and backsplash

As for the backsplash, I’m about 80% certain it will be black as well but I am toying with the idea of white tiles. This detail will have to be ironed out as we work through the makeover. But I’m happy to hear your thoughts!

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are great for easy access to frequently used items. I plan on including 2 floating shelves above the coat rack for added storage. These will be stained but I’m not sure in what color yet. Bernard built some beautiful 3-inch floating shelves in our pantry which you can read about in our Pantry Makeover blog post.

Under stairs storage project floating shelves

Barn Door

There is an area in the back of our stairs that’s difficult to photograph but it will house our luggage and cleaning tools. With limited space, it would be difficult to open cabinet doors back there so our next solution was to include a modern barn door. The actual design and color are yet to be determined, but I do think this will be another great addition to our beautiful and functional storage space!

Under stairs storage project black barn door with hardware
Under stairs storage project wooden barn door


I already know we’re painting the cabinets white, but choosing the perfect white for a space with no natural light will be quite a task. I prefer bright whites so Whisper White by Behr looks like a strong contender! The other color I need to figure out is for the wall across from the cabinets. I think a gray/greige color would complete the design, but I’m also open to hearing your color suggestions. Below, you will find some of the options I’ve been eying! I’m digging Toasty Gray by Behr!

Under stairs storage project gray paint colors
From Top to Bottom: Heirloom Silver | Whitewash Oak | Toasty Gray | Gray View
Whisper White by Behr


Choosing the right lighting for a space can be just as important and impactful as the other design details. I found some beautiful modern lighting options to elevate our storage space! Let me know which is your favorite!

DIY Under Stairs Makeover – Renderings

Please don’t hold me to these renderings, but I hope they help you better understand my design plans!

DIY Under Stairs Storage Projects

Small spaces are fun to design because they deserve attention too and can make quite the statement in your home! We have a lot of work to do but I’m excited to see how this makeover unfolds! I’ve compiled a list of the potential DIY projects we have planned so we can all wrap our heads around the scope of this project:

  • Build and install luggage and cleaning tools storage
  • Replace carpet with LVP
  • Add new baseboards over the flooring
  • Build, paint, and install cabinets
  • Install countertop
  • Install tile backsplash
  • Build, paint, and install shoe storage
  • Install pole wrap and coat rack hooks
  • Build, stain, and install floating shelves
  • Build, paint, and install barn door and hardware
  • Add new lighting (potential DIY)

I hope you’ll follow along on Instagram as we get started! Until next time friends!

Aminah Chung


2 Replies to “How to Create a Beautiful and Functional Storage Space”

  1. It’s going to be amazing just like everything you two do! Miss you, hope you are hold the lab together.

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