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What to do with unusual storage space - Large deep nook in the wall

January 11, 2019

Has anyone seen a space like this used efficiently? I haven't found photos of anything similar online.

I'm thinking some sort of closed storage. We have a 5 and 2 year old, so lots of stuff and not a ton of storage in our split level. It is in our main living area, directly below the space is our entry hall closet. I am short and can't reach all the way to the back without a step stool, the original shelves were too deep to be useful.

I thought about making a sort of mantle since we don't have a fireplace, but I'd rather easy access to storage instead of a display shelf I think. Maybe just 2 large doors and some pull out shelves? Something other than a shelf that would pull out? Or just keep a step stool out all the time...

It is 5 feet wide, 2.5 feet high, 3 feet deep (21 inches deep inside, behind the divider), and 3.5 feet from the ground. It should be safe to remove the center divider. Right now there is just a curtain covering the clutter. Any ideas or photos would be Very appreciated!

Comments (14)
  • yvonnecmartin

    I had a similar hole in our previous house, although it had a door. The depth made it handy to store suitcases and Christmas decorations that would have taken too much room in conventional closets. Also, because these items weren't needed often, storing these things decreased the times that I needed to get on a ladder.

    jenniferdavid3 thanked yvonnecmartin
  • AnnKH

    I think I would build doors for it, for starters. Then use the back for either seasonal or long-term storage, in boxes or tubs. Either use the whole space this way, or put long-term storage in the back, and more-often-used things in the front - either large items, or add removable shelves.

    This does mean that you have to move things in front to access anything in the back, but if this only happens a couple of times a year (at most), it shouldn't be a big deal.

    jenniferdavid3 thanked AnnKH
  • PRO
    David J. Design Inc.

    I would do doors on the front and then hire a carpenter to build 10" high drawers by the entire depth of the closet behind both of the doors. He will need to install a divider from the front to the back to attach the slides for the drawers. You can now get long slides which will allow you to pull the drawers out so you can access the entire space.

    jenniferdavid3 thanked David J. Design Inc.
  • groveraxle

    What's underneath it? Can the whole space be opened up to the floor and made into a regular closet?

    jenniferdavid3 thanked groveraxle
  • PRO
    Sabrina Alfin Interiors

    Yeah, I had a similar thought to @groveraxle. Presumably, the depth of the space goes all the way to the floor. Why not just open up the drywall and build in a cabinet or a closet?

    jenniferdavid3 thanked Sabrina Alfin Interiors
  • jenniferdavid3

    Thanks! The space is right for bulky things like decorations and suitcases but since it‘s in the room where we spend all our time I’m hoping to make it more functional. I was thinking about pull outs on those long sliders and also want to use the vertical space. Drawer on the bottom is fine but can’t see into a drawer up higher. Maybe a couple pull out bookshelves put in sideways, was hoping to find photos of some custom cabinet like that

  • jenniferdavid3

    Under it is the entry hall coat closet on the other side of the wall

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    So this is upstairs? You could put in two slide-out shelves and store toilet paper and paper towels, a basket of beach towels, that kind of thing.

    or, now this might get pricey, build a secret compartment behind shallower bookshelf-doors that can swing out. You want to be sure you can latch the swing-out door, though, in case someone tugs too hard and opens it. You can keep valuables in the back.

    jenniferdavid3 thanked bpath Oh Sophie
  • talley_sue_nyc

    for drawers higher up, make them accessible from the SIDE, not the top.
    Google "over the fridge pullouts" for ideas.

    In this video, that side lip is annoying--I've seen ones that are essentially a drawer box that's rotated to lie on its side instead of its bottom.

    This has a slight rim. But it shows what I'm thinking of.

    These guys have door that swings open to reveal a flat pullout shelf


    jenniferdavid3 thanked talley_sue_nyc
  • talley_sue_nyc

    you wrote: Maybe a couple pull out bookshelves put in sideways, was hoping to find photos of some custom cabinet like that

    Look at these, and picture books or whatever instead:



  • jenniferdavid3

    Thank you for all those photos! I think the side access is the way to go to use up the most space. I like when the door is attached and you don’t have to worry about hinges

  • talley_sue_nyc

    Yeah, I'm really lazy--I don't want to open the door AND pull the thing out! Plus, when you have a pullout behind a door, you can end up scraping the back of the door with the pullout, which is annoying.

  • wednesday morning

    You said that there is a closet directly below this opening? Do you mean on a different level?

    What is behind that 3.5 feet of wall that is directly below the opening? Is that empty space behind that wall?

    If so, why could you not knock out the wall and make a full closet out of it? It can't be a load bearing wall. Instead of installing complicated pull out anything, you might have empty and unused space behind that wall that you can open up and have easy use of.

    I am having a hard time envisioning this space and it's placement. It looks like there is a staircase to the side. So this is built like a large rectangular box that projects from the lower level up into the upper level with a full closet on the lower level and this truncated closet on the upper level? Essentially, it is two closets stacked on top on one another with the upper of them being partly closed off across the front to create this deep, short space?

    Do you have any idea what it was used for or built for in the first place? Do I see an electrical outlet in there?

    My daughter's house has something similar to this in one wall of one bedroom. It seems that it was built to hold an old fashioned TV. Did this maybe hold some old fashioned stereo equipment?

    If you don't want to open it up ,just put some sliding doors on it and accept it's limitations. But, I think that you have a closet space that is half way closed off that you could open up to to a full closet. A full closet area right there would be as useful and accessible as any other full closet. Leaving it like that is wasted space for you since you are not filing it with electronic equipment. Not only is the space wasted, but it is presenting to you as a problem that you are trying to live around.

    Once you have the space fully opened up, there are any number of things that you could do with it.....use it as a closet, put a desk of some kind in there, fill it with built in bookshelves...............

    Change it to something that works and that uses the full space. Instead of altering your life around it's inconvenience ...... alter the space instead. You can spend a lot of time, money, and energy trying to apply all manner of convoluted shelving and still be left with an awkward situation.

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