My Ideas For An Under The Stairs Playroom For Our Kids

I’m embarking on a new project in our house. This time it’s all about our kids! My game plan is to create an under the stairs playroom in our basement. We have an awkward closet down there that we’ve used as an extra storage space and I’ve always envisioned something unique and fun in this extra space.

The Closet Now

One of my 2024 home goals is to transform this closet under our stairs

Here’s a peek at the closet. Since we don’t have a guest room, any guests that come to our house sleep on an air mattress in the basement. We then shove the air mattress and bedding into this closet. It’s not exactly ideal. I’m confident I can develop a better storage solution for all the bedding to free up room in this closet.

If the kids ever open up this closet, blankets and pillows tumble out at them, so I know that what we have simply isn’t working!

Clearing It Out

Clearing out the closet to make a cool under the stairs playroom

I spent a morning clearing everything out of the closet and putting the bedding into my favorite vacuum storage bags. These work so well to compress everything and free up space. I then took measurements of the closet and spent about 15 minutes sitting in there dreaming up different possibilities for this unused space.

making a gameplan for an under the stairs playroom

If you read my post about designing a space from scratch, then you’re familiar with this process. I think it’s always important to spend time in a space, envisioning the possibilities, and getting a sense of how you want the space to feel before you get started designing. After spending time in the closet, I knew that I wanted the room to be fun, exciting, and joyful for the kids. I want them to be eager to show their friends this cool spot!

Nixxing A Book Nook Idea

Our new basement reading nook

My first thought was that I would create a cozy reading nook in the closet. I’ve seen lots of cute book nooks online with pillows, book storage, and a comfy spot to sit back and read a good book. However, we already have a bench in our playroom with book ledges nearby. The kids love reading up there and I like that adults can sit with them and read too. Since we already have a snug hideaway in our playroom, I didn’t want to create a new space with the same purpose.

Indoor Playhouse Ideas

Stair playhouse
From my amazing reader Steph. You can see more in this Reader SOS post.

I’ve also seen a lot of adorable playhouses under the basement stairs. Some even add cute cedar shingles to make a roof, shiplap siding, and a playhouse door or even a Dutch door! If our closet were a tad bigger, I would probably go this route. My kids love playing house and we already have this play kitchen in the basement that they use all of the time.

The dimensions of the closet are only 3′ x 4′, so I didn’t think I could create a happy play house for them in this small space. But it’s still the perfect size for something fun!

Let’s Do A Space Theme!

Image via Sunny Circle Studio
Image via Sunny Circle Studio

Eventually, I settled on the idea of going with a space theme. Rory is obsessed with outer space and loves everything about the stars, moon, and planets. I want this little space to be a spot for her and her brother’s imaginations to run wild. Why not turn the inside of the closet into the inside of a rocket ship?!

galaxy wallpaper
Galaxy Wallpaper

I envisioned stars on the ceiling, twinkly lights galore, and even a mission control center so they could “land” their rocket ship and spend lots of time getting creative in this imagination wonderland! This fun space will involve lots of DIY projects, which should make for some interesting tutorials from me!

Gathering Inspiration

I took to Pinterest to see if anyone had ever done something like this before and came across some cool inspiration. I didn’t see anyone with my exact vision, but I was able to get lots of great ideas to incorporate into my closet design plan.

Mission control center idea for a under the stairs playroom
Image via Book Cart Queens

I spotted this awesome mission control station that is in a library! How awesome is this? I love the idea of incorporating an old keyboard, calculator, and phone for the kids to play with. I will have to figure out how exactly I will build something like this onto the back wall in the closet (There aren’t a lot of detailed tutorials out there.) but this image has my wheels turning! This LED light board would be fun to incorporate too. I think there are so many opportunities for creativity in this cozy space.

Stars Everywhere!

Inspiration by little bits of home
Photo by Little Bits Of Home

I envision the lower half of the closet to be the spaceship with controls and windows looking out. Then, I want the entire top portion and ceiling to be outer space with lots of stars and twinkly lights! I’m not sure if I’ll paint the ceiling and stencil on stars, or if I will wallpaper it. We’ll see what I find, but I think the stars might be my favorite part of this vision.

Adding Lighting

LED acrylic moon
Acrylic Moon

Right now, there isn’t any lighting in the closet, so that will need to change. There isn’t electricity in the closet, so I will likely have to rely on battery-operated sconces to fully illuminate the space. These are pretty cool and come with a remote control. This moon light is also pretty amazing, although I would have to figure out how to get power to it.

I plan to remove the closet door to make the space easier to access, and I like the idea of using a soft linen curtain on the outside to give the kids privacy, but keep it somewhat open. These fairy light curtains could be really fun and mimic the look of stars.

I’ve also seen these galaxy projectors on Amazon and I think this under the stairs playroom is the perfect spot for one of these! There is just so much cute decor that could work in a space-themed room.

My Design Plans For The Closet

My gameplan for our bare closet under the stairs

So here’s my rough outline for what I need to do to get things moving…

  • Remove closet door
  • Patch drywall
  • Paint walls & ceiling (I may even have some leftover paint in a dark navy color)
  • Add wallpaper or star stencil
  • Incorporate 2-3 sconces for lighting
  • Use fairy lights in some way!
  • Build spaceship control board
  • Paint, build, or find decals for windows looking out into space on the walls
Empty spot in our basement

And you might be wondering about the bedding that was previously in this storage space. Well, I’m thinking about using this open space in our basement to add a hutch of some sort. It could act as a place for extra toy storage and hold all of our guest bedding. I’ll keep you posted as I start sourcing that furniture piece. I’m thinking I’ll write a big round-up blog post of all of the hutches I’m considering.

I Would Love Your Input!

What would you do with this empty space?

I am in the very early planning stages of this project, so I would love to hear your ideas for this small room. I know a little imagination can go a long way! Let me know if you have any thoughts on how I can make this the best play space ever for my space-loving kiddos!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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