Here’s a brilliant idea that leaves us wondering – why didn’t we think of this first? Despite our penchant for 2-in-1 furniture, we’ve never seen anything quite like this before. Regardless of attempts to be organized in the modern world, most of us continue to be ashamed of one (or eight, in my case) junk drawers around the house- black holes filled with old receipts, pens, and random trinkets. But now you can flaunt your junk drawer with Unicraft Joinery’s simple yet brilliant under-the-staircase drawer solution.
What a great way to utilize a generally overlooked space! Step and store in style, using each step as storage for a different item- everything from socks and shoes to books and, well, junk. The Australia-based company unfortunately does not have a website, but contact info can be found here, with more details in Vogue Living Australia’s Autumn/Winter 2007 issue.
Via Unclutterer via Desire To Inspire
right-minded,August 1, 2012 You are very wrong on all accounts. A young child could not even open the draw as it has a self closing mechanism which resists the light pull on the handle. Tested by a two and a half year old very healthy boy with encouragement from onlookers. And then to remove a drawer, takes know how, way beyond that of a child and if the draw is removed and left out there is still an enclosed cabinet which houses the drawer. I understand you might be a loving mother, but please don\'t make comments about subjects on which you know absolutely nothing.
Could be really dangerous, clothing left on stairs or drawers not quite closed.
Wow very cool Emily. I actually came across of a photo similar to this today and thought it would be perfect for my house. Decided to do a little internet research and your article was the first one to pop up in Google. AWESOME!!!
wow - so many bashers! i am *totally* doing this. first off, the safety: i have a split-entry bungalow. that means you have to come in and go up in wet shoes to reach the closet. lots of mess and stairs + wet/slushy shoes = accident claim. i NEED these drawers - they will have bottoms of steel mesh so slush and sand etc can drip right on through and lots of air circulation will reduce stink and allow the shoes to dry out. the stairs have a closet underneath in the basement. i'm going to use a sheet of lino or vinyl running from the top to the bottom that will act as a "slide", sending all the water and sand into a trough for collection and disposal. about structural safety: i don't know about other countries but here in canada, the riser has nothing to do with the stairs. they're just there to close in the gap. put it in, kick it out, it has no impact on the step's weight-bearing capacity so putting in drawers isn't going to do a darned thing.
Naysayers are usually correct. This type of stair construction defeats two very important sections of the International Residential Code. One is firestopping between floor levels unless additonal framing is included at the underside of the stair construction to carry fire resistant sheet rock. The second is the sphere rule. Since these drawers are likely removable, once removed even for a short period of time, a sphere no larger than 4" can be allowed to pass through the riser on a residential stairwell. I don't care what you claim. It takes 10 seconds for a child to climb to where they can stick their little head in that space. You may like the design, but the reality is for this reason alone, it does not meet any code.
There will be nay-sayers for everything and the common thread among the nay-sayers here seems to be one of "what-if" connected to "accident"... HELLO??? Careful people don't have those kinds of accidents. My children never left their dresser drawers open and would not leave these open. I would NEVER walk down a flight a stairs without looking to see if they are safe, so why would it change after drawers were installed. I think the idea is brilliant. I am doing it absolutely and may have come up with a way that will work best for me. If the ways here suggested would nt work for you, THEN DON'T DO THEM!! Why do people always have to pick at the negatives of everything??
I think it's brilliant, and safety concerns are minimal. All people have to do in ANY situation to avoid injury is PAY ATTENTION. And why all the American-bashing? Boneheads come from all walks of life, all countries. Stupidity does not discriminate, so stop being so mean and acting all superior.
JWmHarman, Did you know that more people are injured in car accidents than stairs. Perhaps you would suggest getting rid of cars as well. You must be a nanny-state elitist who gets off telling others what they can and can not do because you have such superior knowledge.
EVERY apartment in NYC should have this!!!
The idea of understair drawers is an idea that should be banned by common sense and by building code. The leading cause of death in the home is from falls. About half of these deadly falls occur on stairways. This is a really clever idea, but it should never be used. The risk of a partially opened drawer casuing a fall precludes their usage on stairways. There are other creative ways to use the space under stairways without risking traumatic brain injuries, broken limbs, and possible death from head injuries. The fact that cars were once built without seat belt/shoulder harnesses does not mean that we should be allowed to leave them out now. The fact that some houses have been built with understair drawers does not mean that we should be allowed to build them now.
The idea of under-stair storage, I think, makes a lot of sense for compact living (e.g. they way they do it in Japan, as someone mentioned). But the ones I\'d seen all had hinge-up treads which automatically fall closed - good idea in case it\'s dark & you can\'t see if it\'s open. I found a single-tread cover a bit small for access, so made my hinge-up covers 2 stair treads in size, using a heavy bolt as a pin hinge on the hidden sides of the top tread. Claimed a lot of lost space - ALL the shoes & them some - under those mid-level entry stairs that\'s otherwise inaccessible.
Wonderful !!!!!!!!! I've received rolling eyes, declarations of my insanity and sheer disgust when I requested several professional bids on *my* idea. I simply have yet to connect with the right creative thinker.
wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow its greeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaat i love it !!!!!! xxxxxxxxxxxx
I love this idea, I'm surprised to learn that it is an old one. I have a feeling that space-saving ideas like this one never really catch on because in our society, at least here in the USA, excess has always been in Vouge. We need more stuff, we build more storage, we need bigger houses, we need more stuff to fill bigger houses, ect. Rather than living creativly in a smaller house, most people would rather just find a larger one.
I love your stair drawer idea. Responsible people close drawers. In a basement you could put a finger hole in each drawer to pull it open.... and who would care! Keep thinking up good ideas! I would love to hear more!
love this site!!!! lets just hope i can afford some of the things iv already taken a shine too!!!
hey im gurpreet i just want to know about the drawers under the stairs
Unfortunately, we live in a society that require warnings to tell people not to use the hair dryer in the tub. Personally, I like the Darwin approach... survival of the fittest. Don't coddle the inept, weed them out. I like the idea, and since I don't leave drawers open, I would definitely use these. I have seen tons of stairs that don't have a center support, and the space underneath goes begging for use. As a few others have said, if you don't want them, feel free not to use them, but show enough sense to recognize that these have been engineered to stand up to use.
Because having an extra few inches of storage is worth the inevitable accident. Sometimes a little bit of perspective goes a long way. if this was such a great idea way back in the golden age of yesteryear, then how come drawers-in-floors didn't remain popular?
Setting aside the fact that I couldn't care less about parasols and it is not relevant to the discussion... This really is a great idea. What everyone is fussing about is implementation, and people who are bashing the idea are not required to utilize it in their homes - after all, if you're going to trip and fall on it, you would know yourself better than anyone else would, right? And if you're so worried about it sagging and breaking, then have it installed by a certified professional. Not only in high-cost living space areas such as NYC and Tokyo, but also for some individuals in less densely occupied areas but with lower income (less money = less space = more need for storage), it would also be a useful idea. On the minus side, wouldn't there be a problem for those who want to "hide" their drawers with the flip-top lids? I can see repeated use leaving arced scuffs on the walls. I wonder if there's a way to prevent damage to the walls and paint, perhaps with ball bearings inset into the side of the treads when you lift it? If that issue could be fixed I would definitely use the flip-top method rather than the drawer, personally. Of course, because I'm an apartment-dweller it's not a suitable method for me as of now, but in the future it's a method I'm sure I will be using (unless the stair-side bookshelves take up too much space ._. Man do we need book space).
Instead of pulling out, wouldn't a lift-top be more practical? You could easily get in and out and be required to close it when done.
Blum makes a self-closing drawer slide that would hold one shut. Rev-a-lock is a magnetic lock that does not open without passing a magnet over the face of the drawer. these are used for child-proofing, and work great. I am a cabinet builder . I love this idea. I would probibly go with the lid idea instead of the drawer, but this would work. I will definately have some sort of storage under my stairs when I build my house. Also, enough of bashing Americans, nationality has nothing to do with this at all.
I am a designer, as well I hold a building inspectors liscense in Canada and the US and have found no in formation anywhere that says thar drawers in stairs don't pass the building codes. As a matter of fact I have these stairs in both of my residences and they work fine they are in dee an old idea but I for one think they work great. I have to agree pretty much with what Betty says. The truth is if you are so undisciplined with closing drawers they are probably not a good idea for you. As for the only house that they will not work in is probably a house that has no stairs.
good grief. It never fails to dishearten me when I see the comments from the fools trying desperately to find fault with a good idea, Fortunately they seem to be the minority here, nevertheless, I wish we cold find a design solution for them ;)
WOW I cant believe this..... I have been sketching designs to incorporate draws into steps. I hate wasted space......There are so many areas within a dwelling to locate draws, small / narrow closets. Just watch a home being built and see how many dead spaces there are between walls. Behind the back splash of a kitchen ( under cabinets) one can add a smal l in set ledge and enclose it with sliding doors, or other...in the form of textured glass, stainless steel etc.. My aunt reminded me that her 1800's Victorian style home had a piano hinged cedar draw in the steps,. which was designed for blankets. had an inner lift out lid to keep things clean
I thought umbrellas were actually originally used for the sun " silk parasols for the ladies" and then were used for rain protection later following introduction of water proof materials. The stairs are a good idea for many of living in ever smaller spaces.
Wow,,, What a crazy debate!! Finally Kent suggested what was painfully obvious: Steel Reinforced timber. As an australian discussing an australian design company I think I'm entitled to inform you that we have sensible building regulations, and a permit system that can be approached with decent engineering to ensure a safe and functional result in a non-conventional structure. I would be quite confident that the timbers are rated for their job... possibly even pre-loaded to ensure no sag. I'd be willing to bet the draws have a gravity return system. A slight fall on the runners ensures the draw will return. That's not rocket science. As a general recomendation to readers, don't assume that everyone else is as naive, simplistic, and incompetent as you are. Anyone who called this a bad idea, immediately gave a clear estimate of their own intelligence.
Great design. I love using unused space. Great for storing hiking gear! Plus it's more accessible than shoving it all in a crowded closet.
In looking at the photo of the stairs, I'd say they are between 30" and 36" wide. While thicker and harder woods may work for support of a larger span, most people won't want a 2" or 3" thick tread. My thought would be a few routed 'channels' on the underside of the tread replaced by square pieces of carbon steel. This should give the treads more than enough strength to handle the weight with an extra wide span. As for the tripping on an open drawer issue. I don't think that a self-closing mechanism is the way to go. Simply make sure that whatever method used to close the drawers keeps them closed securely. Many of the higher-end drawer 'rails' are built just for that purpose. While practical and very cool, I don't think this is a necessary item needed in most single family homes. However - in small townhomes, condos, or apartments where every inch of space is needed; this is a great space saver idea.
Geeezzz.. Good idea or not, Why so much bashing? If a designer wants to create something great!, but be willing to accept a bit of criticism. This forum is to express differences of opinions for constructive value (I hope).
Awesome idea but I'm seriously one of those people that's going to trip and fall because of a drawer left open.
This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title o.us poetry. Thanks for informative article
By the way, those tabs sticking out are probably the stupidest idea possible. They're easy to catch your foot or pantleg on, or to catch the cord of the vacuum cleaner as you're carrying it upstairs, trying to move furniture, etc. There are about a billion better ways to pull out the drawers that don't involve things sticking out into the stairway. These designers suck.
Of course, the problem with any "self-closing" mechanism idea is that it's very unreliable. It's easy to get stuff jammed in the closing path and no "self-closing" apparatus will fix this. I just looked at 2 dressers in the house and of them, there were 3 drawers with stuff stuck in them so they couldn't close properly and weren't closed. One sock, one set of underwear, and a scarf. In a staircase drawer, this would leave the drawer edge sticking out in front of the edge of the tread, just ready for you to step on it, have it slide open, or catch your foot on the sock, whatver. Horrible idea. Old idea. Still dangerous after all these years. And BTW, Marc is an idiot. ZOMG Wood is stronger in Britain because you are so superior in every way!!!11
under-stair drawers have been around for, oh, about 250 years. good grief. there's a project for them in a wood magazine about twice a year.
..And *i'm* guessing the rest of you have never seen and old Japanese home; they've been using storage as steps and vice versa for centuries. Google "tansu" sometime if you'd like to see the ORIGINALS....
I'm guessing the majority of you must be americans because here in Britain wood that thick would easily suport the weight of a person without a third brace. Why not try opening your minds to something new for a change.
Ah yes, the prefect place to store babies.
haha FTW you people are arguing on STAIRS XD hihihihihi reminds me of the parody commericial warnings: "STAIRS. the silent killer." haha. the internet. go figure :D
This is a great idea! Instead of having shoes lying around at the bottom of the stairs they could be put away neatly inside a drawer. All of you that are so concerned with treads splitting or the step not able to support weight should really take a look at most stair construction, especially open-tread stairs that do not have any support except at the edges. They make these out of wood too, even only 2 or 3 inches or so thick for an average size residental stair (or even less than an inch out of steel). A Material will warp or crack only if it is too thin. But stairs are constructed to support a lot of weight. Filling the gaps with someting will not make the material any weaker. This is an irrational concern. Ask any architect or designer.
You could have one of these drawers as a secret compartment for valuables. It would obviously need to be lockable and look just like the other steps (no obviously visible handle to mark it out). It would make a good hiding place.
some said it is dangerous, some said it,s innovative, some said it is not new, i said it is another way to fill in the empty spaces, EFFECTIVELY.
Hi , nothing new really ,My parents had a house with a similar system.but a whole lot safer than an open drawer.it was a hinged top and i have built one with a hinged riser instead, and one was done with a screened hinged front as well,so you can see if it is shoes or what not . thanks ,Bernard Miron, Orleans On.
Very nice, not new however as said before. My little rental studio appartment in Milan had a very clever stair up to the (bed) mezanine with storage space in every tread. Some with drawers, some with fold up lid and the some of the top treads approachable as cupboards from the other side where the stairs went over the kitchen benchtop.
Hi Folks...Speaks volumes about the state of ingenuity/innovation in design generally that this simple and obvious idea is seen as 'brilliant". This is a "clever" idea and the kind of thing that our design pros overlook continually in their frantic race to create "design fashion". The DUMB BOX we live and work in is the result of such design myopia. We need fresh eyes with a long view from our design pros and this clever idea is an example of that good vision. Thanks for listening...Michael
Looks like an ingenious idea, I'll have to try and remember this if I ever build my own house! I also can't see what some of the people above are concerned about with regards to strenght and safety? They look like they are built from fairly thick pine which is by no means weak, and you could always use a stronger wood for the step! The handles can easily be replaced with something that doesn't stick out and a spring return mechanism would elimate the risk of them being left open! I'd also be tempted to put labels on the front face of each step's drawer - Tools, Shoes, Kids, Dog etc to help remember where things are and make them a conversation point for visitors :-P
Obviously the stairs are designed with drawers in mind, pointing out that you might not be able to retrofit your existing stairs to look exactly like this doesn't change that it's a good idea and that it can be done.
i'm not a designer or a carpenter but when i "need" some space, i figure out a way to get it done because every inch counts. this is brilliant!
As a designer, I think this is a really cool idea. I actually wasn't surprised to discover that it's been done before, but it's nice to see old, but worthwhile ideas brought back. Particularly as people are realizing that we gave up many such ideas for the sake of excess.
This is a great idea - and safety concerns can be well-addressed using self-closing drawers and making sure the inside of each drawer contrasts well with the stairs themselves. I love space-saving design. Too bad my apartment doesn't have stairs!
Good grief, I mentioned the idea of spring loading mechanisms on the very first post, but as Erin and others have pointed out, people have still whinged about the "tripping hazards"... And to be honest Betty, I doubt all of the nay-sayers are designers - I assume most people that design for a living will see this as a good (if previously used) idea...
Thank you Betty! That's exactly how I felt reading through these comments... ok, so they're only suited to certain situations, and maybe there's an idea (like spring-loaded closers) that could make them better. I can't think of any product that I couldn't say the same about. Love these. When I build myself a tiny house someday, my stairs will definitely have drawers under them.
some of you people are ridiculous... structural support? use thicker wood!! (i bet you can even get it approved by the building inspector) worried about tripping? get a closing mechanism!!! it's really sad when so called 'designers' shoot down creative ideas for such stupid reasons. don't you people have anything better to do than whine? if you don't like it, don't do it!! i think all of you nay-sayers are boring and paranoid, and would probably love to live in some ugly, piece of crap developer home... just because they are cheap and "safe". btw, 'safety' and 'fear' are illusions.. they are something you create (or someone creates for you) in your mind.
Those treads will be split from no undersupport soon. I don't know how this got past the building inspector.
When my son was young, I built a loft bed in his bedroom that included three 12" high by 12" wide steps. In each step was a drawer for his toys. The bottom drawer was 3' long; the next was 2' long; and the last was 1' for the small toys. This was 20 years ago.
thats a good idea!
I saw a house once, in San Francisco, that the renovators had built in drawers that opened off the side, into the hallway alongside the stairs. They had also added rollout bookshelves and umbrella/cane storage beneath some of those drawers. They used press-latch catches, so there were no handles, so that you couldn't tell there was even anything there. Really neat!
Who needs drawers? At my grandparents house (built in 1900's) the bottom steps had a hinged tread - storage underneath, between the stringers.
for all those who criticize this design for its safety reason--chill out! that is a big reason why american design is so dowdy at times; too much focus on safety and practicality. and yes safety is important, but this is not unsafe if designed and used responsibly. i think it's a great idea. and for those of you worried about structure...this website shows some great stairs without cabinets that could easily accomodate cabinets underneath http://www.trendir.com/archives/cat_stairs_balustrades.html
A big draw back, building code in cities like Chicago do not allow storage under the stairs, period. Of course what you do after the inspector leaves is up to you. An expensive redo.
Good ideas are cyclical. This is an old concept finding a brand new audience.
Yarayara or should we call you , oh well its probably not your fault , blame the parents, American by any chance?
this is ages old
yarayara... How is this dumb? And your example makes even less sense. Are you aware that people do use umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun? It's very common in tropical countries.
I have a book somewhere around my house that has stairs with drawers. It's a pretty old book. I think it was about storage in small spaces. You have to get pretty creative in places like NYC. Where you basically live in a single room.
I... wow. I honestly dont know what to say. Possibly the worst idea ever conceived. So you have grandpa over for dinner and he comes down the stairs after your kid leaves a drawer open after openeing half of the drawers looking for his transformer. Sorry gramps. Not to mention, who wants to go up and down each step looking for your lost item one drawer at a time while coming down the stairs half bent over? What's wrong with cabinets agian? Oh yes, too safe and pratical?
I thinnk I like the idea of having the drawers come out a the sides. The bottom drawer could be, say, the steps high and one deep, with a triangular front, Then you have the rest of it be bookcases on wheels, that slide in and out, two or three steps deep, all the way to the back.
This is awesome the only hard part would be remembering which drawer held what.
A very good idea. I'll be designing something like this for my bottom three stairs in my basement. Fantastic! I thought I'd reply to some of the rational concerns: "The space under stairs is typically used as storage already, as a small misshapen room" If you look closely, it's only the bottom three stairs that have the drawers. Under my basement staircase, that bottom set of drawers would be far more than the tight sliver of space under them as part of a misshapen room. "Drawers aren't good for standing on" The "step" is primarily supported by the flat surface that you walk on and the diagonal boards that hold them. While the vertical board does provide support, it wouldn't be enough that the removal of that board would affect the stability of the step provided the right materials are used. I'd be concerned about warping possibly causing the drawer to stick, but I've seen plenty of steps in "modern-style homes" that have no vertical board (both wood and metal). Back-patio (deck) steps typically do not have vertical boards for support (admittedly, these are usually repaired/replaced every 5-10 years depending on climate). "Hand Slot" Actually, the positioning of the hand slot is ideal. It's so far off to the side and is set far enough back that it is very unlikely to cause tripping. I like the design because I prefer to have a metal tab to grab at, but either would work. "Spring Loaded Drawers" I think this would be my biggest concern. If you have elderly folks living in your home you'd certainly want to ensure that the drawer is never left open. Springs could ensure that carelessness doesn't result in broken bones.
You're still left with an unused triangle of space under the steps... why not build in drawers from the side?
AJ and others: I'm confused as to what is so dangerous about this? Like I said earlier, we've had these in our home for years. The step is not weak, does not sag, and is not any more prone to causing accidents than a step that doesn't have a drawer. Our drawers had a cut-in ledge you slid your fingers under to open, there were no projections. And what makes anyone think the drawer would open when you step on the tread above it? That doesn't make any sense.
Nice idea! But I can't beleive these steps are sturdy without the center support for the steps? It can't be there with the full width drawer. Hope noone has to carry a piano up those steps. On the other hand, I have an idea to piggy back on this, Instead of have a drawer where the riser goes, why not make the step itself a lid? You could lift it up and place things in the boxed in area below the step. This would eliminate the "step on the drawer and slide down the stairs" threat. If you stepped out into the raised tread, it would simply close and give you the normal tread to step on.
This has to be the most dangerous thing I have ever seen – does anyone out there realize that stairs are the number one location for accidents in a home. This is only “BRILLIANT” if that word now means “created by a world class moron”.
Not to be a wet blanket, but I think the way a lot of stairs are built would prevent you from doing this. Our treads are supported by three "stringers" so you couldn't have a drawer the whole width of the tread. By code any stairs wider than 30 inches need 3 stringers. In this case, you could have two narrower drawers, but not one wide one. The other problem obviously is what's underneath the stairs. In our house, In the case of the stairs going to the second floor, what's underneath is the sloping ceiling of the stairs leading to the basement, - no room for drawers there. We have storage under our basement stairs, so they could theoretically hold drawers.
sean: the usual construction of steps does not use the vertical pieces to bear the load of the individual walking etc. the two wooden pieces that support the planks look kind of like this: __| / __| / __| / / / /
I hadn't seen this before. Very nifty! Perhaps the tops could open like a chest.
This isn't anything new. My grandparents had drawers in their basement stairs, and their house was built at least as far back as the 40's. It was used for the same thing as Lindsey said, tools and the like.
Actually this is a quite old idea. The earlier poster was right there is a Japanesse tradition of Tansu chests that have drawers and serve as steps as well. Here is a wkipedia page on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tansu
I'm certain that as this is a company, that they are well educated in the mechanics and construction of stable stairs that can withstand the same forces as any others. And honestly the drawers would take a few inches at most from any "misshapen room" and they are inches from the top of the room that I recall never being used in my house. These would be even less obtrusive in houses where there may be only a couple of steps from living room to dining room and the like. Use nice wood, add pretty knobs and keyholes. It would be a conversation piece and a nice addition of character to a home.
Sean, ever stop to think about stairs that don't have anything under the step at all? Open-step stairs, usually in basements. They have a crossbrace under the step that distributes the weight to the edge, and take the weight of people just fine. Throwing a drawer in there doesn't change a thing. I would definitely agree with recessed handle instead of the pull-tab, kids are dumb (and so are most adults). Spring-loaded is a good innovation also. I might just take the rugs off my steps, they are right in front of the door. Good spot for umbrella, dog leash, etc...
I thought people didn't have these for a couple reasons: 1) the space under stairs is typically used as storage already, as a small misshapen room. 2) Drawers aren't good for standing on. Is there some additional support given to each step to make up for the lack of support for direct downforce weight?
"what do you usually do with that space??" The kind of stuff people put in drawers...obviously My house has very limited storage space...i'd love to have these
Oops I left the drawer open...
Sure, what brilliant idea!!! DUMB! what do you usually do with that space?? its like "hey, why dont we use the umbrella to cover us from the sun during really hot days!!" really stupid.
And you could change the opening to a hand slot under the overhang to avoid a tripping hazard.
Yay! A good while back I saw a picture of a Japanese chest of drawers that resembled a set of stairs. It made me think of putting drawers underneath stairs in my house when I build it. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. If someone selling these can make them cheaper than I, even better!
my dad built some of these into our stairs at my mother's request when we built our house in '93. kept small tools in them for quick jobs around the house. very handy. have also seen drawers built into the baseboard below the kitchen cabinets.
Ignoring the obvious possible tripping hazard - you could have spring loaded or sloped drawers that automatically pull themselves shut - this is such a simple but clever idea...