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How To Add a Closet with a Hidden Door Under a Staircase

How to build a closet with a hidden door under a staircase to create extra storage space.

It is finally done…after living with home improvement projects going on in my foyer over the last year, I am so happy to walk through the space and see my vision come to life and the room all nice and tidy…no more buckets of Spackle, paint and sheetrock leaning against the walls.

Foyer staircase before adding hidden door underneath for storage

Here is how the foyer and staircase looked when we first moved into the house. Last year I painted the staircase which made a huge difference.

How to add a hidden closet under an open staircase

We like having a large and spacious place to enter our home, but under the staircase was unfinished and was like a no mans land. Everything we placed there looked awkward.

how to add a Hidden door under staircase

After I did some research I came up with a plan to enclose the space under the stairs to create a storage closet, but one with a hidden or semi-hidden door.

How to build a closet under a staircase

I found my inspiration in this image as well as….

storage under staircase idea

…this one.  I liked the vertical board and batten feel.

I made a few drawings and Ed figured out how to do it.

Closet under staircase with hidden door

Here is the AFTER!

DIY Hidden door and closet under staircase

Everything all nice and tidy, plus storage under the stairs that is accessed by the semi-hidden door.

Hidden door under staircase for extra storage

It came out just as I imagined.

Closet with hidden door under staircase

To open the door, you simply press the upper left side…

How to create a hidden door in a wall

… and it pops open. No door knob needed. Instead there is a magnetic touch latch installed right inside the door.  To close it, we simply push the door closed until we hear the magnet grip it. It works beautifully.

How to create a board and batten wall under a staircase

It is nice to have a closet now to hold a bunch of stuff we didn’t have any place to put, but still wanted to keep.  I also like having a surface to decorate again.

How to decorate a foyer table

For the last year, this room has been a dumping ground. I even used it as a place to set up to paint my kitchen cabinet doors when it got too cold to paint them in my garage.

Board and batten hidden door under a staircase

The brick floor is uneven so we had to raise the door up a little to make sure it could open and close easily.

Semi-hidden door for a board and batten wall

We used regular door hinges, but first tried using SOSS hidden hinges.

Hidden door to DIY for a under a staircase closet

They are expensive, but didn’t work since our door had an angled top. We returned them and went with the normal door hinges so the angled door can open wide.

How a magnetic touch latch works to open and close a door without the need for a doorknob or pull

This is the magnetic latch that allows the door to stay closed and pushed to open. It is made for cabinet doors, but works on the lightweight hollow-core door we used.  The photo on the left shows the latch in the OPEN position. On the right the latch is pushed in and the door is CLOSED.

Angled hidden door under staircase closet

On the door itself is a small metal plate that the magnet on the latch grabs onto to keep the door closed.

Next week I will show you what the inside looks like and what we are using the closet for besides the ironing board you see. :-)

How to Build a Closet Under a Staircase With a Hidden Door

I didn’t include exact measurements for the wood since your staircase and sizes needed will be different. I have written this tutorial more as an overview of what we did and the items we used.

supplies needed:

  • Pre-hung 24″ wide hollow-core door
  • 2 x 4’s
  • 1″ x 2-1/2″ x 8″ boards
  • Sheetrock
  • Joint compound
  • Sander and 100 grit sandpaper
  • Masonery drill bit and screws
  • Hammer
  • Pry-bar
  • Bubble level
  • Primer and Paint – Sherwin Williams- Pure White 7005 
  • Paint brush, roller and tray
  • Circular drill bit – doorknob hole size
  • 2 – 1/2″ wood screws and screwdriver
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw and miter saw
  • Caulk and caulk gun
  • Wood glue and Liquid Nails
  • For brick floor – masonry screws and anchors
  • Optional – white hinges

How to DIY a hidden door affordably

  1. Ed wanted to use a pre-hung door since every door he has tried to hang over many years and houses that was not pre-hung never worked correctly. If you have door hanging skills, you can simply get a hollow core door and door hanging trim.
  2. Install door inside a frame of 2 x 4’s. If you want to create a hidden door, remove decorative trim that comes around the pre-hung door, you will not need it.

How to make a hidden door using a hollow core door

3. We measured the angle of the staircase where we wanted the door and cut the top of the door off at that angle with a circular saw.

How to make s door for an under the staircase closet

4. We removed the inside top section of the original door from the cutaway piece and cut it to fit in the new angled top of the door. We used wood glue to hold it in place.

How to create a closet under a staircase

5. We also use the cutaway section of door to make a wood plug for the doorknob hole. We used a doorknob drill bit to do this.

Building a closet under a staircase with a hidden door

6. We used masonry screws and anchors to attach the 2 x 4’s to floor. We used 2-1/2″ wood screws for the rest.

Tutorial showing how to DIY a closet under a staircase with a hidden door

7. Where you place the 2 x 4 on the floor is very important. You don’t want it in line with the edge of the staircase. You need to take in consideration the thickness of the sheetrock and 1 x 2-1/2 decorative boards that will be on the face of the wall so they will be flush with the bottom edge of the staircase.

DIY under a staircase closet

You can see the width we needed to leave in this photo.  It was about an inch and a half. We used a variety of 2 x 4’s that we had leftover from other projects that is why some are light and others dark.

Under a staircase decorating ideas

8. Add sheetrock and joint compound over the 2 x 4’s.

Under a staircase closet ideas

9. Add 3-1/2″ tall baseboard and 2-1/2″ wide vertical and angled top boards.  We spaced the vertical boards 10-3/4″ apart.  We used Liquid Nails and wood screws to attach the boards.

Adding a hidden door and closet under a staircase

10. Countersink screws and then fill with Spackle. When dry, sand smooth.

Under a staircase storage ideas

We placed and glued the wood plug we made from the cut off section of the door into the hole in the door.  We Spackled and sanded it to smooth.

Under a staircase hidden storage

The spacing between vertical boards required us to place one centered on the door. Again we used Liquid Nails and wood screws to do this. We also glued and screwed on a top board on an angle.

Important: To be able to open and close the door easily, you need to make sure that when you attach the top angled piece of wood that it is trimmed enough to allow the door to swing open all the way.

Under a staircase home improvement projects

Once all is in place…

DIY under a staircase closet with hidden door

…it is time to sand wood joints, caulk and paint. I ran a bead of caulk along every board (vertical and baseboard) where it meets the wall before I primed and painted so the boards and wall would look seamless.

magnetic latch for hidden door

Attach Magnetic Touch Latch and metal plate.

Done!

This was a big project that we did over a few months time. I tried to cover everything we did in this post, but if something does not make sense let me know and I will clarify it for you and also update the post.

If you would like to see what we put in the closet you can find that post here: What is in the Hidden Closet Under the Staircase

Resources: affiliate links used 

Magnetic Touch Latch

Artificial Grass Planter

Baskets – IKEA

Black Urn – Bought at a yardsale.

Greenery Globe – HomeGoods

Lamp – TJ Maxx

Free printable French Script to cover stack of books

White porcelain tray

Gold + Glass candle holder 

Window Sash Mirror on wall

How to create a hidden closet under a staircase as well as a hidden door. Under a staircase storage ideas.

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75 Comments

  1. You have done so many lovely improvements to your home! I am excited to use some of them for my own home, which I am upgrading! Lots of work and so nice when done! Thank you for sharing….

  2. I was so excited when I saw this post! It was exactly the idea a thought I needed to create more room to organize our main floor. I ran to my husbands home office to show him my next project, and he kindly reminded me that the wall backs up to the staircase leading to our basement (whoops!). What I was able to do was also recommend to my parents who are going to be starting the project! Thanks!

    http://www.homesweethomestore.com

  3. Transformation of the staircase is so so splendid. Not only it serves a great storage room but also adds so much beauty to the foyer. You are amazingly creative. I look forward to more such DIYs.

  4. I want to let you know I think this is one of the best, highest impact DIYs I’ve ever seen. Congrats that your vision came to life so beautifully!!!

    1. Wow this is super cool! My husband also is military and we recently moved out of housing w a staircase just like this! Never knew what to put there. I put an awkward bookcase there lol. Though we didnt own it so I wouldnt have to gone to this trouble, but now I know for the future! Thanks!

  5. Hi
    I am a graphic designer and I am always thinking out of the “box”. I did almost the same thing to my space under my oak stairs except I put two doors instead of one door. One long door like you have but in the smaller part of the space we cut 1/4 of a door and made a cubby hole. This way I do not have to remove anything to dig deeper into that narrower space where I store some left over supplies we used decorating our house.

  6. Great creativity specially like you cover the empty space under the stairs i will add this new my new house your blog is very useful for me

  7. Diane, I enjoy seeing your inspiring creation of a warm, comfortable home. I am sending kudos to Ed for helping to bring your vision to reality. What a wonderful team. It must give you both so much pride in what you have created for you and your family.

  8. Diane,
    This makeover is so incredible! I love how patient you are and how you can envision a project and then see it through! Thank you for the inspiration.

  9. I love your new foyer, Diane! That hidden closet makes all the difference – it looks great.

  10. Oh Diane the foyer looks so amazing. Bravo on a job well done. You have been a work horse getting your lake home to reflect your style. I love all of it. Vikki in VA

  11. Your foyer looks great! Your staircase project inspired me to take the plunge and do mine, which I had been thinking about for several years. Love the hidden storage area. I noticed an electrical outlet–was that a major deal to add that to the new wall? Where did they bring the wiring in from? Projects involving electrical work intimidate me…..

    Keep up the diy-ing!

    1. Hi Bonnie – Ed is really good with electrical projects. It was fairly easy to add the outlet since there was an existing outlet on the left wall under the staircase. Ed added new wiring from that and ran it up along the underside of the staircase to create the new outlet on the new outer board and batten wall.

  12. Looks great! Not only visually impressive but so practical. Your ‘to do’ list of major projects on the first floor of your house has to be dwindling. You’ve been like the Energizer Bunny…. on a transformation marathon, since moving in…what will you do with so much ‘free’ time? (I’m sure you have tons of other projects just awaiting your time and attention.) You and Ed make for quite the formidably creative and productive pair. My ex was much like Ed so I learned a lot from him…you name it, we did it… when we gutted and completely redid a tiny, mid 19th-century ramshackle structure on paupers’ budgets.

    Do you know if the former owners are aware of and/or following your blog? Either way, some might be disheartened, to see all the changes, given their memories of the place. But, at the same time, some might just be impressed by how well done your changes have been.

  13. Lovely lovely lovely! This is one of those “old tricks” they started to use back around the days when small bathrooms were added to the main floor entrances in old Victorian homes which usually had bathrooms only on the upper floor. It works great as storage too!

    Your home just gets better and better. Fabulous, Diane and Ed. :-)

    1. Hi Connie – Thank you so much. :-) It has been a lot of work, but making the house our home to fit our style and the way we live so we can enjoy the house for many many years has been worth it. XO

  14. Hi, I have a question about fixing up a house. Where do you start? How do you know what to do first? I just got a bonus and want to spruce up my house but there are so many things I want to do, I’m having trouble deciding where to start – fix up the art studio, tile the bathroom floor, fix the kitchen cabinets, buy lighting for the living room or kitchen?

    1. Hi Liz – Good question. :-) Since you have the budget to get started, I think the best project to start with is area that you least like in your house, the one you pass by and always say to yourself or think…”if only it were like”…. This is the area to take on first, the one that you want to change the most and the one change that will make your home feel and look better to you. After you have completed it, then go to the next area that you dislike the most and keep doing these projects until you look around your home and love every angle and view you see. Another factor to consider is time. For my kitchen makeover, I knew it was going to take a lot of time and I did a lot of it when Ed was away on business trips. This allowed me to make a mess and not worry about needing to cook a meal, etc. Plan the projects and write what you will need on paper, then get all your supplies gathered in one area of your home so you have everything you need to get the jobs done.

      DIYing takes time and effort, but once you complete the projects the reward will be worth it. :-)

      1. Thank you for your ideas. Now I will go home and vote on which area aggravates me the most :)

  15. Really nice work, as always! I’m curious do you have plans for your front door and the brick flooring?

    1. Hi Liz – I do have plans for the doors… I want new ones!!! I have to wait for that transformation though since it will be costly. I have been looking for door companies that would want to partner with me on a makeover, but have not found one yet. You can see my vision for the doors in this post: https://inmyownstyle.com/2016/06/updating-exterior-lighting.html

      For the brick floor, I have thought about white washing it, but am not 100% sure what I will do with it yet. If I can find a rug I really love and that is big enough and does not get in the way of the doors I may place one in.

      1. Very nice doors. You have such a good eye, I always enjoy your posts. And I think its so nice that you respond to comments.

  16. You should be so very proud of all the transformations you are making to your new home. Enclosing the staircase was a brilliant idea & really makes the stairs look substantial. I haven’t forgotten all the painting you did to the staircase itself.
    Your house is looking so nice & I can’t forget to mention the kitchen! You are an incredible Do It Yourselfer!

    1. Hi Linda – Thank you so much. DIYing is how my brain is wired. I remember even as a little kid I enjoyed making things myself. It is also the only way I can get the look I what since we don’t have the budget to hire pros to do the work. Some days I wonder what I would do with my days if I didn’t DIY. It is my job, but also my joy to make things look better and prettier with my own hands and vision.

  17. Diane, as always, you’ve impressed me with your innovation in “creating more than was there before.” Your foyer and stairs are, indeed, stately and makes yours “a very grand foyer” from what had once been just a very nice foyer. I love that furniture piece as you’ve placed it. I’m presuming you removed some drawers to insert the baskets? “Genius,” a really creative melding of traditional and organic modern…”In Your Own Style.”

    1. Hi Patricia – Thanks :-) Where I placed the baskets in the credenza desk in the foyer are open shelves. I have placed books, tchotchke’s and other decorative items in these shelves, but to my eye is made it look too fussy and cluttered, so on a whim one day I stuck an IKEA basket I had in one of the shelves and it fit. I liked it so I bought 3 more and have kept them there. Sometimes I add ribbons to the baskets to add color. I did this when BHG came to my previous house to photograph it for their Christmas issue a few years ago. They added a pop of color that I like to see around my house. I may add some spring color ribbons to the baskets soon.

      1. Another Patricia here interested in your staircase hall cabinet. Where did you get it? It’s the perfect size and combo of open and closed storage I’ve been envisioning for our entryway.

        And even Harry Potter would be envious of that staircase closet. It looks wonderful. I love the phrase “I made a few drawings and Ed figured out how to do it.”

        We all need an Ed in our lives.

        1. Hi Patricia – The credenza desk is a hand-me-down from Ed’s uncle. It is in perfect condition. The top drawer opens and slides out flat to create a desk. In our previous house I had in in our foyer also. I think God had a plan to make sure Ed and I met. Without him, I could not make half of what I do happen. He is the best. :-)

  18. Very inspirational, Diane. Thank you for sharing your magic with us again! Now I want to buy a house with a dysfunctional staircase?

    1. Hi Alissa – :-) I forgot to mention in the post, but the staircase was noisy and vibrated when you walked up and down. Now that there is support under the staircase walking up and down feels solid and no more vibration. WIN all around.

  19. So THAT’s where you hide your wizard. 8)

    Kidding aside, this is such a fabulously creative idea, and executed perfectly. You can definitely tell it took a lot of thought, blood, sweat, and tears to make it, but it sure did not disappoint!! Great job, you two. :)

    1. Hi Zovesta – Thanks. My oldest is a HUGE Harry Potter fan and I know when she sees the closet she is going to think the same… as the perfect place to hide a wizard :-)

  20. Completely awesome. I don’t think it would have occurred to me to start with a regular door. I would have been in a panic thinking it had to be custom.

    I noticed in your earlier post about painting the stairs that you were “living with” the stained post at the bottom to see how you like it, and it’s still there. I really like it stained. I think it grounds the bannister. This entire staircase and storage area is dreamy!

    1. Hi Judy – Thanks. Ed has hung many doors and he was the one that came up with the idea to use the pre-hung one. It worked. I am going to keep the last staircase post stained. I went back and forth, but agree that is grounds the banister. One less thing to paint. :-)

  21. Diane…what a wonderful job you and your husband did to that dead space underneath the stairwell…now there is the functionality of the additional storage, as well as now, a seamless look that makes the staircase look more stately. You can paint that floor to match the wood steps on those stairs, and that will tie the staircase and the foyer together perfectly…You can get a large sisal rug for the entry that will really welcome people into the home, with the ‘beachy’ vibe as they walk in the door, and this will anchor the foyer as well…giving the space more definition….(see the movie The Holiday to see the look, Cameron Diaz’s characters house in the movie)….then I would move the furniture piece back to the wall on the left of the stair, and get a large mirror, to put above, perhaps a round mirror to offset all the lines and angles in the space..I would put the bench back in the front of the stair, and add pillows on the bench, that introduce you to the colors that are through-out the rest of the house…

    1. Thanks Diane – I have been looking at seagrass rugs to put in the foyer to go with the clutter free and clean lined look I am after. I love the movie The Holiday…such a fun movie. From the photos my foyer looks larger than it is, there would be no room to put the credenza desk anywhere else in the space then where it is placed. It would block the hidden door if I moved it to the left. I hope to find something with color to add to the mix…just haven’t found it yet. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt for just the right things and know eventually I will find something that makes my heart skip a beat. :-)

  22. Wow! I knew what you wanted to do with the hall but really didn’t envision it like this, what a stunning job you and Ed did. Just beautiful. It must feel so good to have it all done – now you can go float in the lake and relax :)

  23. I think the closet looks great. I am hoping to do something similiar in the new house when we finally move in.

    I would love to stain those baskets.

  24. Diane, Your home is beautiful. You and Ed are so creative and energetic! Your kitchen amazed me. Now the hidden storage. I love it. Great job.

  25. Well….you certainly did NOT disappoint on this project! I love it, and I would copy it, if only I had a staircase. I always wanted one so I could do this same thing. Good job to both of you!

  26. This looks great Diane. Your description of how to accomplish this is very detailed. You must be very happy.

  27. Wow how perfectly gorgeous! That looks like a really huge job. And it came out perfect! I am again impressed beyond words. You and Ed really do great work together.

  28. Diane, I enjoy seeing everything you do and am so in awe of your DIY talents. You and your husband have made such a difference in this foyer but I know it was hard work and a long time coming. I do have to agree with some who have replied in that the brown chest/sideboard is distracting. Not because it isn’t pretty, but to me it is because the brown furniture does not pair well with the brown brick floor – the colors do not compliment each other. I do love the original brick floor but feel that the chest painted another color (black or white or even the introduction of a completely different bright color) would resolve the problem of two brown colors clashing. I’m wondering if that piece is of sentimental value and if it is, I’m sure you will want to keep it original, but should that happen, I would choose different baskets to fill in the open spaces. Just my opinion – and as I’ve said before, I bow to your talents and energy.

  29. No don’t change it Diane! The cabinet goes with the wood on the stairs. They complement each other. I like painted furniture as much as the next person but, you don’t want it everywhere, it can look so “themed”
    I think it looks wonderful as it is, what an achievement! You have some wonderful ideas, and a great creative talent, and I love to see how your home is developing. Can’t wait for the next project!

  30. I always get excited when I see your email in my inbox. I always know it will be something really nice. Love all you do. You do things that are so tasteful..

  31. Very nicely done! Congrats to you and Ed on your hard work. It appears that you added an electrical outlet?
    Any words of advice regarding electric outlet? And did you put shelves inside the closet too?

  32. What a great job. are you ready to update your blog picture with your new house. If I remember correctly your picture was taken in the foyer in your house in PA. I love that piece of furniture, I found one like it on craiglist and put large conch shells instead of the baskets. I am not sure about yours but, mine is a secretary as well with lots of storage. Looking forward to seeing your next update.

  33. That project is a wowzer! Very impressive. I agree with the brown piece not looking quite right. You need to show off all your hard work and not hide it! How about a distressed shabby chic pedestal table with a side ottoman for sitting?

    Your web site is inspiring and I hope you wont take my comment as a criticism. I know in time you will find just the right piece that will fit there perfectly.

    Whatever do you do to relax? After that kitchen remodel I would need a year off!

  34. Diane, you did a spectacular job with the staircase and storage! Wow, it looks great. It’s my mind that sees a red door knob like in The Sixth Sense. :)

  35. Yes, do you have another closet for guests to hang their coats? You and Ed make such a great team! Wish my husband enjoyed creating stuff, but he’s just not interested in getting out the tools and such… he didn’t really want to help me to hang curtains, either. But he’s handy in some ways. He does help clean!

  36. Looks great!! I thought you might say your inspiration was the Harry Potter’s closet at the Dursley’s house :)

  37. OK, I just LOVE 99% of everything you have ever done on your blog! But…that brown credenza doesn’t do it for me. It needs your special “Diane-style” touch that you have, to make things better. Is it in the workings or am I just gonna have to love it? :-) tree

  38. You are so creative! The molding you chose really ties it all together. I would love to have something like this in my home, I mean who couldn’t use a little bit of extra storage. Really looking forward to seeing how you decided to utilize the space and the organization tips that coincide!