Before and After: A Useless Entryway Spot Gets a Practical, Storage-Packed Redo for $300

published Oct 2, 2022
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About this before & after
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Before: a metal railing at the top of the stairs

Whether your home is small or large, there’s probably a sneaky spot where you could add more storage but just haven’t thought of it yet. Try storing books on a floating shelf above a doorframe, lofting your bed to make room for more shoes or folded clothes, or adding storage bins underneath a bench in the dining room, for instance.

Homeowner Tara Boettger (@justcallmehomegirl) looked to an unexpected spot in her home to pack in more storage: the stairs. “When we moved in, we thought the railing in our raised ranch was unsafe,” she says. “It was way too low, unstable, and the spindles were too far apart.”

Tara had an idea, though — she’d scrap the railing altogether and make something new. In place of the railing, which was both unsafe and not particularly useful, she added a half-wall with the added benefit of extra storage (and a handsome exterior, to boot).

Now, the living room is more clearly defined, and you can’t see coats or shoes in the entryway. Tara decided to build a back on the shelves because she didn’t want things to fall (or get pushed by her kiddos) through the back and into the entryway. Although she was slightly worried about losing light from the front door, thanks to the other windows in the space, the DIY project “didn’t take away any light and just created a new cozy living room,” she says.

Tara says the bookcase took a few days to build (with the help of her parents), and it cost around $300. In a nutshell, they built three boxes out of 2x4s, secured them to the floor by screwing directly into the floor joists, added 2x10s in between, and a 1x12s cut to size for the top and exposed side. Then, they cut shelves and placed them on shelf pins and added moulding for a finished look. They painted the whole thing a super light, almost-white gray (Valspar’s Seashell Gray.)

At first, the built-ins were open and displayed framed photos and tschotskes, but recently, Tara decided to add cabinet doors to the fronts for more concealed storage. “I was so nervous to create the doors because it’s something I had never done before, and doors need to be precise,” she says.

Her shaker-style doors are made from plywood cut to size, 1/4″ pine board, and they even have concealed hinges, which she achieved using this kit. “I love the classic look and the added closed storage,” Tara says of her new door fronts. “I am proud of how it came out.”

To see Tara’s other DIY upgrades nearby, check out this front door facelift and these built-in shelves on the opposite side of the living room.