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Need space? Take the stairway to heaven

Most of us are crying out for more space: for that home office, that much-needed extra WC, for all the books or just for room to breathe.

What many folk don't realise is that the space they need is right under their noses. Or stairs, to be more precise. Where there is a staircase, there is space which can be put to good use.

Bookcase/library What better way to use this space than filling it with books? It keeps the place in order and makes a wonderful feature in the room. And you can get shelves to suit any budget, from custom-made in solid wood to flatpacks in man-made materials. Either can make the most of an otherwise dead area.

Shower/wc Most under-stair spaces will have enough room for a WC and, depending on the headroom, you may be able to fit in a shower, too. If you do put in a shower, it is essential to ventilate the area properly to prevent problems from moisture and dampness.

Office This idea is particularly suitable for stairs which can be completely opened out. But not all stairs can be easily converted in this way. If the wall that encloses the stairs is load-bearing you will need the advice of a structural engineer.

Dark room If you're a photo enthusiast, then why not build your own dark room? It's the perfect space for such a use and, if planned properly, could save you money in the long run with your printing and photography needs. A dark room can be set up very easily.

Open plan Depending on the different structural constraints that you have to adhere to, why not open up the entire area under the stairs and incorporate it into your hallway or an open-plan living-room?

It will add to the floor space and allow you to free up other parts of the room by moving furniture into this snug little corner.

In short, there's more to the cubbyhole beneath your stairs that you may think.

Putting a little bit of time and effort into its renovation could provide you with exactly the space you were looking for, but never realised you had.