Most houses have at least one set of stairs to the basement, and another stair case to the second floor. Older houses often had a hidden set of stairs that went from the attic where servants slept, directly to the kitchen. Stairs are simply a means of moving between floors but they can be so much more!
Americans aren't moving as often as we once did, so we need to find ways to make our homes work harder for us. Storage is almost always in short supply, so why not use the wasted space hiding under your stairs to add more storage? This isn't a new idea as the Japanese have been combining stairs and storage for hundreds of years … so let's explore ways to integrate storage into our stairs.
Stairs and Storage
Everyone adapts to their environment and in Japan, space is limited so they've created furniture that serves multiple functions and they've been doing this for hundreds of years. Step tansu or Kaidandansu, are used as stairs with storage areas beneath the steps. Antique step tansu were only finished on one side but reproductions are finished on both sides, and often made in several sections so you can reconfigure them in different spaces.
What's fascinating here are all the contemporary ways we've taken the traditional design and adapted it. Starting in the upper left corner, let's explore these each step tansu.
- Antique step tansu – was built to provide a way to get to the second floor. Most often they're one piece but sometimes, they were constructed in several sections to allow them to be moved if there was a fire in the home.
- Contemporary step tansu – has been adapted as a piece of furniture, using the traditional mixture of different woods. This entertainment center was built by Robert Spangler, a furniture maker in Bainbridge Island, WA. Built for a specific location, it was built in 3 sections for shipping.
- Contemporary stairs with built-in storage – is a great way to take the tansu concepts and incorporate them into today's homes, especially smaller homes where storage might be a challenge. The lower right stairs include a nice mix of drawers and shelving with doors while the stairs on the right, might include both closed storage and open, display space.
Photo credits go to HomeDesignFind.com and Robert Spangler.