The space beneath the stairs // Interior Hack…..

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The eternal mystery? Just HOW to optimise the space beneath the stairs….

Something that always makes me scratch my head in bewilderment, & poses a regular conundrum is the area beneath the stairs in houses. I’m sure there is a holy grail on how to utilise this space (like that wizard dude, Harry, he had it nailed with his entire room jammed in there)

It turns out, once you start exploring solutions, there are a gazillion amazing transformation ideas: A simple search on google (all hail lord google), will bring up some truly wacky & wonderful designs. There’s heaps of inspiration around. From the traditional & practical – downstairs toilet or compact office, to the dreamy a ‘nap’ area (YES PLEASE), or the outright opulent: a wine cellar. In short, the list of possibilities for revamping this otherwise cumbersome area is endless. & So too it seems, are the budgets for these designs. Ah, bit of a stumbling block that. MONEY.

I’d love to create a child’s play den, with built in slide, or a storage solution Kevin McCloud would be proud of. But the little problem of money (lack there of) always came in the way of my visions. Designing & building our own under the stairs solution therefore had to be cost effective & attainable. Despite Mr. B knowing multiple tradesmen, extending to carpenters, the time & materials needed to produce something would have been easily £500 plus. Our home lacks any period character- it’s aesthetically challenged in fact, being a 1970’s house. So adding some kind of personality & bringing quirky, vibes was my plan.

I’ve long been obsessed with wood work, having dabbled in making vintage wooden plaques in the past, & so I had my heart set on some genuine vintage wooden apple crates, with the thought to stack them & create a shoe storage system. The trouble is, ‘genuine’ apple crates are increasingly difficult to track down: You generally find them on traditional farms & over the last year or two, they’ve been selling at the speed of light, as hipsters use them in all sorts of manner (Cath Kidston pop them in window displays, whilst Coke take them on the road as display cases). Given that we live in SE London, our choice was limited, we settled on a fruit farm just outside of Tunbridge wells (we wiped the seller out of his remaining 6 boxes! Like I said, they’re becoming a rare breed!)

apple crates, apple crate hack, cool bananas, cool bananas blog

apple crates

At £14 per box, & a couple of special screws, we spent a grand total of £90. The fantastic thing about adapting this solution, was the ease at which it could happen- no faffing around with brackets, or suchlike, just attach the boxes directly onto the wall & you’re done!

Original bushell boxes or apple crates (like ours), were used by fruit growing farms when harvesting their apples, pears & plums. Farms would have their names printed on the wooden apple crates as well as charging 5 shillings for them, which was refundable upon return. Some wooden crates date back to the 1930s: such originals are in great demand, although becoming more scarce to track down. They were also used as a measuring unit- with all boxes intended to be the same size, a universal measurement of buying & selling was established.

I think I’ve been having far too much fun styling the shoes for display though!apple crates


apple crate storage

apple crate storage

under stairs hack

apple crate hack

under stairs apple crates

apple crate storage system

apple crates

We couldn’t be happier with the final result: I love the authenticity of the boxes, & having introduced a little piece of history (complete with farmers names printed on them) from Kent into our home.

What’s your ‘under the stairs’ solution?

Next on my interiors agenda: Loosing the baby room & Creating a den fit for a threenager!! I predict many, many nights over at Ikea!

I’ve been nominated for an award & I would be eternally grateful if you’d give me a cheeky vote- just click the picture below. Everyone who votes is entered into a draw to WIN an all-inclusive holiday for two on the Amalfi coast! (As chosen by Amara, the award sponsors) 










  1. MrsCoolBananas
    03/11/2015 / 11:02 AM

    I know, it’s criminal to think that not right?! x

  2. 28/10/2015 / 9:25 AM

    Love this. Crates are like gold dust down here now. To think we used to break them up for fire wood 10 yrs ago xx

  3. 25/08/2015 / 6:50 AM

    Looks amazing Katrina! Love how you have genuine Kent farm crates rather than tracking down some posh version that would have cost you triple the price. Our under the stairs has a cupboard door and ten tons of crap in there!!

  4. MrsCoolBananas
    20/08/2015 / 5:05 PM

    Ah thanks Jess!! Ooh, those shoes are my Gola liberty print trainers….They do seem to prove very popular! (plus, they’re super comfy too) x

  5. MrsCoolBananas
    20/08/2015 / 5:04 PM

    We all love a bargain, Right?! hehe. Thanks you so much for your support too Ali xxx

  6. MrsCoolBananas
    20/08/2015 / 5:03 PM

    Thanks Donna! I had fun getting it all together 🙂 x

  7. MrsCoolBananas
    20/08/2015 / 5:02 PM

    Haha, I’ve had to be really stick with how many shoes I keep here…..the rest are all shoved away in a cupboard upstairs! & Thank you so much for voting Carissa xxx

  8. 20/08/2015 / 1:15 PM

    It looks great! Loving all the shoes too especially that blue, grey and floral pair! x

  9. 18/08/2015 / 10:35 PM

    Wowsers, they look fab Hun!! ¬£90 is a bargain. I love anything vintage and I’m thinking of a way we could use them in our own home. Our understairs has a cupboard so couldn’t pinch your idea but I’m going to pass it onto my sister who could definitely use it. I’m off to vote for you and your lovely blog. Very well deserved x

  10. 18/08/2015 / 9:18 PM

    That is an ace use of space and I love those apple crates. I really like your mix of old, rustic crates and new, modern shoes too! x

  11. 18/08/2015 / 8:56 PM

    Love this! What a great use of space AND I have serious shoe envy! Great collection! Voted! Good luck my pretty one, you totally deserve to win x

  12. 18/08/2015 / 7:11 PM

    Love this K, what a great idea! x

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