Monday, January 9, 2017

DIY Staircase Storage Unit for Living Room Toys

Hello and happy New Year everyone!

Sorry for the long stretch of silence, I've spent the last couple of weeks putting all of my time and effort into Lucas' first birthday party.  It was well worth it because it turned out beautifully and Lucas had such a great time.  I will share the pictures and details with you all later this week.  But first, I am excited to show you our new living room toy storage unit!

The day after Christmas as the boys sat playing happily in front of their mountain of new toys that they received, I had a minor freak out moment. I started wondering how in the world I was going to organize this mess in our small house.

I mentioned in my Christmas Home Tour post that I already had plans to replace our cheapo laminate toy storage unit with something a little bigger and better.

But truthfully, I had zero intention of tackling this project until after the birthday party chaos was over. However, as I was trying to jam all of the new toys into our current unit, the annoying shelf pegs kept falling out and at one point a shelf actually fell and smashed poor Lucas' little fingers. 

That's when I called it quits with this thing, hauled it out to the garage and headed to Lowes.

I wanted to utilize the entire space which would mean a stair step design due to the fact that it backs to our staircase. At first I attempted some floating shelves since it seemed like it required less thought, but they ended up not working out so well. It was a true blessing because I am super happy with how this unit turned out!

Supplies Used: (Affiliate links may be provided for convenience.  For more info, see my full disclosure here.) 
Cut List:

10’ Board--
  • 49.75"
  • 23.75"
  • 12.25" (x2)
  • 11.5"
8' Board #1--
  • 36" (x2)
  • 11.5" (x2)
8' Board #2--
  • 36"
  • 11.5" (x3)
  • 25.25"
This was definitely my most complicated design yet, so to make it easier I designed it all in a Word document prior to beginning so that I could work out the measurements and visualize the steps.  I've included these to use as a reference below--they aren't perfect but hopefully they help you see the steps a little better than my rushed photos that I took as we scrambled to get this thing together! 

**Screws are indicated by pink arrows and liquid nails by blue arrows**

Step 1.

Using wood screws, attach two 11.5" boards to a 36" board. I measured and marked 11.5" from each side. Then, I placed the board down and traced it so that I had a visual of where it needed to be placed.

Step 2.

Attach the 49.75" board to one side of the 36" board  and the 25.25" board to the other side.

Step 3.

Attach a 36" board on top of the 11.5" boards by securing from the sides and through the tops of the 11.5" boards.

Step 4.

This is where a Kreg Jig would come in very handy.  But since I don't have one, I just attached my next two 11.5" boards with liquid nails and held them in place with bricks over night.

Step 5.

The next morning we attached another 36" board on top, again securing from the sides and through the tops of the 11.5" boards.


Step 6.

Secure a 11.5" board and a 12.25" board with liquid nails (or a Kreg jig if you have one!) and then the 23.75" board on top.

Step 7.

Finish off the top with a 12.25" board and a 11.5" board.

We ran into issues with board warping so the hubby added L-brackets to the outside of the top cube to get it into the right place.

I ended up liking the industrial feel that they added so I had him put some on the second row as well.

We countersank the screws so that I could go back and fill them with wood filler and sanded the whole unit to remove any rough edges.

I almost painted it my go-to white, but ultimately decided to give it a coat of my favorite stain, Minwax Wood Stain in Provincial followed by a couple coats of whitewash.

And here it is today!

I added a couple of 2x2s to the bottom to serve as feet. (Also make sure that you anchor any furniture to the wall to prevent tipping!)

I used woven bins from Target that I already had on hand, but any 11" bins would work.

For the "steps" I added some books along with some neutral colored wood toys (Wooden Push and Pull Elephant/Wood Toy Car /Natural Wood Blocks inside this Wire Storage Basket)

(Only I would go shopping specifically for toys to match my d├ęcor haha)

I cut down a piece of project wood from Hobby Lobby and used chalkboard spray paint to make labels for the bins which I think looks cute and helps the toys stay organized for a while.  Keyword--a while.

This was a pretty simple build.  Except for the wood warp issue in that one spot which had my perfectionist hubby scratching his head and extremely frustrated for at least an hour!  Try to pick out straight boards if you can.

I also strongly recommend staining/painting your boards before assembling them.  Not only will you save yourself a bunch of time, you will also save yourself the aches and pains that come with trying to get inside all of the cubes.  Take my word for it!

It was also pretty cost effective. We had everything on hand except for the wood (around $50) which is cheaper than some of the flimsy laminate storage units that I've seen in the stores.

This would also work to maximize the storage space under your basement stairs.  Right now we have a metal shelving unit with some plastic containers but I may make another one for that spot in the future.
Alright friends, I will be back later this week to show off Lucas' first birthday party! :)

Linking up to these awesome parties


    1. Beautiful piece! My daughter are both outgrowing their bookshelves, and I think something like this would be a perfect, space-saving solution. Blessings, from your neighbor at the Friendship Friday link up.

      1. Thank you so much Meg! Going vertical with storage is definitely a great way to save on space :)

    2. Lovely idea. It turned out really nice. Shared. Thanks for joining us at the Inspiration Spotlight party.

    3. It looks great! I like how it echoes the line of the stairs!

    4. Looked Wonderful!! Professionally I am a home improvement contractor. I just loved the idea of your home decoration. Your house is looking beautiful and beautifully decorated.


    I appreciate all of your wonderful comments :)