Urban Road

Gina’s home: Hidden under-stair cubby (makeshift playroom)

A little while ago, I became desperate to find a solution to minimise the huge volume of bright, plastic kids toys that were taking over our home! We built our house pre-kids so when our architect asked us if we wanted a play room, we didn’t see the point ‘They can just play with toys in their room’, we thought… And then we had kids, ha ha.

I’m all for letting kids be kids but every zone of our home was getting taken over by toys. It was out of control and there was no where to contain the sea of toys taking over our home. Or so I thought!

When it all became too much, I knew I had to find somewhere to house some of the toys. That’s when it occurred to me that the space under our stairs was practically wasted. As a child, I loved my secret cubby and I knew Patrick would too!

Here’s how I transformed the space into a hidden under stair cubby and solved my problem of toy overload.

Related article: Creating a kids learning from home space: Patrick’s room reshuffle
Related article: Australian themed boy’s room: Take a look around Alexander’s big boy room

Space before

This space was very basic to begin with — concrete slab floor, raw plasterboard walls and unfinished MDF board ceiling from the staircase.

Under stair space before
Under stair space before
Patched wall
Under stair area

How I created the cubby

To pretty the space up and make it safer for play, I added commercial carpet squares we had from another project. We put a cushioned underlay and then just placed these squares on top for instant flooring.

I painted the walls in the same colour as our interiors (‘Greyology 2’ from Haymes). And, I began painting the ceiling but found it incredibly challenging… not only was it a tight space, the raw MDF absorbed so much paint. Add to that the fact that it was a stepped surface instead of a flat ceiling and it was just too hard. So I gave up on the idea of painting and tried spray paint instead. Turns out that doesn’t work on MDF board. That’s when I had the idea to buy several metres of inexpensive white fabric and just staple gun a canopy to the ceiling. It took all of 5 minutes and I was thrilled with how it turned out! For ambience and additional lighting, I also attached fairy lights to the canopy.

With the main surface areas done, it was on to styling. I created a reading nook with scatter cushions and a floor rug underneath the stairs where the ceiling is especially low — a cosy little spot to curl up with books for magical story time. Next to this space, I added a picture shelf to hold books and placed several toy baskets below. The square bookshelf from Patrick’s room also fits in here to store some of his larger toys.

Finished space

This was an incredibly easy project that helps to solve the problem of us not having a play room. We still have toys in other areas of our house but it’s a manageable amount.

As I hoped, Patrick loves his cubby and happily plays in here. Whenever guests come over (adults or children alike!), he takes them straight to his ‘secret cubby’. He especially loves the fairy lights and having a dedicated space for play.

I’ve also heard of parents doing a ‘toy rotation system’ where only 2-4 toys in each category are out at any one time, such as 2-4 trucks/vehicles, helping to keep toys organised and children interested in their toys, and this is another idea I might try soon.

I hope sharing our under stair cubby has given you some ideas if you’re also struggling with toy overload in your home. What other tips have you found helpful to minimise toys taking over your house? I’d love you to share them in the comments below.

More kids styling inspo

Growth chart in under stair cubby
Toy baskets in under stair cubby
Reading nook in under stair cubby
Reading nook in under stair cubby
Gina Beschorner Style Curator

Welcome to Style Curator, your destination for daily interiors inspiration, styling tips, reno advice, home tours and DIY projects!

We're on a mission to help you create a home you love. And with plenty of tips and tricks, tutorials and other home inspo, we give you all the tools to achieve it!

I’m Gina, Founder and Interior Designer, and you can read more about Style Curator here.


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