Cupboard-under-the-stairs – Part 1

So, I’ve been on an organization kick lately. One cupboard that has really bothered me since moving in is our Harry Potter Cupboard, a.k.a. cupboard-under-the-stairs. I won’t even post a before picture. It was horrible, especially in winter when our gear sat in a soggy lump on the single wire rack.

I’d been day dreaming about a built in shelf, but after a quick search, I couldn’t find any pre-made shelf that fit my idea for sale. James liked the idea (which was good, since he ended up doing most of the construction). Even after being together for 10 years, he still surprises me sometimes. I had no idea he had done any wood working in high school. When I was talking about material he piped up with MDF and the best way to construct the shelf. It was a good choice, except it turns out I am very allergic to MDF and can’t even be in the room while a hole is being drilled.

The first step was to plan the shelf. We measured the area on the back wall. This was very hard, since we didn’t have the proper tools. What I did have was newspaper, which I cut and taped to the wall. Once  I was happy with the shape, I took down the paper and measured it. Keep it when you’re done measuring, it is very handy for the constructing the shelf!

I knew I wanted to have pull out baskets. I love the look of wicker and bamboo baskets, but most have too much surface area and are impossible to keep clean and free of dust (did I mention I have allergies?). I finally found a smooth sided basket from Ikea that fits in the Kallax shelf, which means I will be able to find replacements if these break.

Ikea’s BULLIG basket – beautiful and practical.

Once I had the baskets, I was able to fire up SketchUp and draw a rough sketch of what I wanted using the measurements of the baskets and wall.model

There isn’t any point in showing the dimensions, since anyone who does this absolutely must design it around their own cupboard. Remember: drywall is never perfect. The walls may not be square, so make sure you measure the front and the back. You don’t need SketchUp, but you absolutely need a plan.

Up next: construction and installation.

Disclaimer: Use common sense when doing a project like this and be careful when using any tool, especially if you are not familiar with them.  Measure twice and cut once, especially when you are working with drywall. The resulting shelf is very heavy and has the potential to hurt someone if it were to fall when installing it, or afterwards.





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