I recently posted a photo of our understairs cupboard on Facebook, and asked you all what you’d do with it, and whether you could guess what our project was. It had previously been a dumping ground (for more than three years, ahem), and after finally getting around to having a thorough sort out, we decided to tackle this space too. We thought about the best use for an understairs cupboard, and I made a suggestion as a joke…

But we quickly agreed that what I’d said in jest was actually a fantastic idea with a lot of potential, and all for minimal cost and effort!

So What Is the Best Use For An Understairs Cupboard?

We decided that useful though a mini office, tool cupboard, or pantry would be, nothing would compare to a super awesome den. It felt like an inspired idea, and the hope was for it to be inspiring for our girls, ie. a place they’d willingly play independently!

What should you include in an understairs den? Here's how we created our perfect reading space under the stairs!

Here’s how we created this fun reading area (which, incidentally, Pixie is in love with!)…

Emptying and Painting

First, we emptied it out and finally got around to filling up the loft and binning the items that had not seen the light of day for several years. Next, hubby painted the entire space in a neutral magnolia. He did this in the evenings while Pixie slept so that we could close the door on it and keep it a secret until it was ready to be unveiled!

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For comfort, I ordered a made to measure mattress to cover the whole floor. It’s essentially just a large piece of foam, but it does the job of making it snug and cosy without costing a fortune. Plus it’s the perfect size which is a bonus (I just had to cut down one corner slightly to make it fit around a return in the wall).

What should you include in an understairs den? Here's how we created our perfect reading space under the stairs!


We wanted to keep the space as open as possible so it wouldn’t feel too crowded and so there were minimal hazards: it had to be both functional and appealing. We decided on a simple shelf to hold a few books, plus a small wall-mounted dolls house (with furniture, of course) – enough to retain interest without being overwhelming.

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Understairs Cupboard


There was really only one option: fairy lights, which we strung these across the sloping ceiling. They’re battery powered LED lights – and they have a remote, obvs.

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Decor had to be pretty but subtle – nothing too busy or pink! I opted for some butterfly wall stickers in neutral pastel shades, with a few cushions scattered in the back of the den for comfort.

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The Completed Cupboard

And here it is – our finished project:

Understairs Cupboard

This was so simple to create, and with the door removed and a stair gate across the doorway, it’s the perfect space for the girls to play while I’m busy in the kitchen. We’re confident it’s the best use of an understairs cupboard for our family, and Pixie certainly concurs! I’ve no doubt Elfin will also agree when she’s old enough to articulate her opinion! What do you think?



An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

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