before and after of adding a closet above basement stairs and making use of wasted space

We Added Another Closet!

Adding a Closet Above the Stairs

Although the extra ceiling height may be great for moving a huge couch down the stairs, in our case it is really good for nothing else! We decided to make use of the wasted space above the basement steps by building a new closet above the stairs. It will be accessible through bifold doors or maybe a secret-door-book-case! The new opening will be between our family room and our dining room.

Here is the space before adding the closet!wasted space above basement steps
wasted space above stepsAnd the view looking down to the basement…looking down into the basement above the stairs

You Can Never Have Too Much Storage!

Right now we have no idea what we will put in a new storage area because we already have a coat closet, pantry, linen closet, and plenty of kitchen cabinet space. But you know what everyone says, ‘you can never have too much storage space!’. Maybe we will use it to store extra couch blankets, family games, movies and that kind of thing. Or maybe we will use it to store our winter coats when not in use, or toys, or folding chairs, or the vacuum! The possibilities are endless! Look, I’m already mentally filling it!

After some research what the minimum code ceiling height should be for the basement stairs (6’8” in our area) we planned out a closet design that would make the best use of the space.

Designing the Closet Around the Constraints

To allow for enough head room space of 80” when walking down the stairs we couldn’t just make a huge wide closet without some sort of ramp or step that follows the angle of the staircase. We decided on the step to avoid working with weird angles and trying to figure out the degree of incline. Through some careful measuring and planning the shelf design came to life! We will probably end up adding shelves on the right side of the closet anyway so the bottom one will just start about 25” above the floor.

Here is the new framed in closet ready for electrical (we decided to add a switch, a plug, and a recessed light on the inside) and drywall.

closet above basement stairs


First we finished knocking out all of the drywall around the steps. We also took the ceiling drywall out too because of water damage and cut a hole in the wall between the stairs and the garage to double check for mold. When we had framing done for our house addition some water got in between the new house and the old house before it was all weather tight. removing the drywall above the basement stairs

Removing the ceiling stuff was a bit dangerous as Russ had to balance his ladder on one of the steps and be careful not to slip and fall! Definitely avoid doing this if you can! As you can see he was being good and wearing his respirator, gloves and protective eye wear! I am proud. You definitely need this stuff especially when dealing with material that could have mold on it!removing ceiling drywall above basement steps

While he was working on demo I was working on adding a new header above the opening for the closet. As you can see in the above picture I took out some studs. At this point we weren’t sure exactly how big the opening would end up so we decided to make it larger than needed.

Framing the Closet Floor

We have some concrete block that makes up the basement walls and it extends past the drywall of our staircase. This was a perfect surface foundation to build the new closet floor. Russ added a bottom plate using treated lumber since it will be resting on the concrete. We built up a short wall about 8″ high so it would be level with the floor on the other side.

adding floor supports for the closet above the stairs

Unfortunately you have to step up to get into the new closet because we have an existing header supporting an opening in the basement. It just couldn’t move to any other spot and we couldn’t lower it.

rough framing door opening

We set the new joists on top of the mini wall and used metal joist hangers to attach them to the basement header ‘step’.

rough framing the floor with joists and joist hangers

We used 3/4″ plywood for the subfloor, then started framing out the shelf. plywood subfloor framing

Framing the Shelf Step

rough framing shelf above the stairs

The shelf allows us to make the closet much widerbut still have headroom when walking down the stairs. framing out a shelf step above the stairs inside a closet

In the mean time I was working on framing out the new opening. We decided to go with a 24″ bifold door for now. So the new framed opening is about 25″ wide to allow for the door to fit after 1/2″ drywall goes on either side. framing a header for a new closet opening

I wanted the top of the door to line up with the another door on the same wall. I dropped the rough opening down from the header. Here you can see how the two openings are the same height.

rough framing door opening

The last step was to add the wall framing for the back of the closet. I built this on the floor horizontally with a double top plate and single bottom plate. Then we slid and hammered it into place. framing a wall

Here is a view of it as you walk down the basement stairs.
wall framing above basement stairs

Here is our new closet with some drywall, and more finished pictures to come as we progress on this project.

closet above basement stairs complete with drywall


What do you think? Will it be worth it to have this extra storage area?


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