Looking for ways to repurpose underused space? From Murphy bed DIY to turning bookcases into built-ins, here are 9 creative projects to help your spaces live large.

I thought our first home was space challenged.

And then?

I watched CBS Sunday Morning this weekend and saw a 75-square-foot apartment.


Let that sink in.


I’ve seen closets on Tik Tok that are bigger than that.

And as I watched the tour and saw how the tiny apartment dweller had maximized every single square foot of available space, it gave me pause. In most houses so many times there are corners and landings and closets and stairs and nooks and crannies full of space—space that could be converted into something else. Space that could be reused and repurposed into storage or office space or bedroom space and on and on and space-saving idea on.

That gave me the idea for today’s post.

Let’s talk about all those ideas and projects and suggestions for finding more space that we pass by every day. Space that we overlook. Space that we didn’t even know existed.

Here are 9 clever ways to repurpose underused space in your home.

9 Clever Ways to Repurpose Underused Space in Your Home

staircase-with-flowers ways to repurpose underused space
ways to repurpose underused space closet under stairs

1. Create a Storage Closet Under the Stairs

Every time I show this staircase in the center of our home, I get comments on the molding at the base of the staircase.

And as amazing as that molding is? What’s behind it is even better.

There’s a closet behind that molding. If you live in a house with stairs, there’s so much potential under those stair treads.

That space is often overlooked, but it holds such potential.

We transformed this overlooked area into a functional storage closet. We added shelves, hooks, and drawers to accommodate extra storage and cleaning supplies. Make sure to utilize the vertical space under the stairs efficiently and you won’t believe how much STUFF you can organize under there.

This space was transformed several years ago and it’s still working as a hub for all the cleaning supplies and vacuums and the downstairs tool kit.

You can see the entire before and after here.

ways to repurpose underused space landing


ways to repurpose underused space built-ins
ways to repurpose underused space painted built-ins

2. Add Built-Ins on a Stair Landing

When we moved back into the house that I grew up in, the first picture is what the upstairs landing looked like.

Look at all that space just waiting to be used.

Of all the places in our home? This was the most overlooked.

If you have a stair landing in your home? Take a second look. Landings are commonly overlooked spaces that can be put to good use.

We added built-ins from kitchen cabinets to the landing area to add TONS of storage to this small, underused area. This is where I store all the extra accessories I use for photo styling, like vases and decorative pieces. You can also store extra linens or tableware, too.

See the details on the built-ins here.


ways to repurpose underused space plate rack

3. Add a Plate Rack to a Wall

Press pause on this post.

Look around your house for a blank wall.

That’s all you need for this project. Just a blank wall that’s about 4 feet wide.

Install a plate rack and turn it into a decorative focal point. This plate rack is 2″ deep. Talk about maximizing underused space—this plate rack is the perfect project to make your walls live large.

Showcase your platters and dishes or cutting boards and free up cupboard space while adding the easiest DIY to your walls.

See the plate rack DIY here.

barn-door-ways to repurpose underused space

4.  Turn a Closet into a Murphy Bed

Not only is this Murphy bed a space saver.

It’s really comfortable, too.

I’ve slept on this Murphy bed at my mother’s house more times than I can count when we were remodeling our home.

Convert a spare closet like this into a cozy guest room with a Murphy bed. During the day, the bed neatly folds up, allowing the space to be used as an office, craft room, or play area. It’s the perfect solution for maximizing space without compromising on comfort.

You can see the DIY for the murphy bed here.


5. Build in a window seat

Here’s an example of window seats in each of our past homes.

I love window seats.

First of all—you have all that storage if you add a hinged top (which each of these window seats have).

You can also create a reading nook (like we did in the farmhouse upstairs craft room) with a curtain rod and curtains.

A bay window is a perfect place to add a window seat with a little extra storage.

See all about the window seat on our landing here.


6. Create an Office under the Stairs

Earlier we talked about what to do with that space under the stairs.

If you’re in need of a dedicated workspace, the space under your stairs might be the answer. Install a desk, shelves, and storage units to create an efficient and compact home office.

At the farmhouse, we transformed the space under the stairs and created this office. You want to get creative with the layout to make the most of the available space.

A built-in desk was added on one side and on the other side file cabinets were built in with a wrapping station.

You can see the before and after here.

7. Turn a Bookcase Nook Into an Office

I was laughing as I found this solution.

Because this area? It’s now Westleigh’s shipping station for her new boutique.

Transforming a bookcase like this into a compact office is a fantastic idea for small homes or apartments. It’s so narrow—only about 11 inches deep and it is so functional now. We added extra shelves to bookcase with shelves and found a fold-out desk at the thrift store. When it’s time to work (or ship things), simply fold out the desk to add additional work space.

This bookcase nook is now a functional and space-saving office.

ways to repurpose underused space trundle

8. Add a trundle to a bed

Don’t forget about the space under the bed.

Maximize sleeping space by adding a trundle bed like this.

We added this bed to Whitney’s room and it’s used on the regular for guests. She just told me a couple of days ago how happy she was to have it. If you don’t have a trundle bed, you can always use storage bins or drawers on wheels under the bed.

It’s such an underused space and the perfect storage solution for storing seasonal clothing, bedding, or even shoes. Keep everything neatly tucked away and organized and make use of every bit of extra space.

ways to repurpose underused space built in nook

9. Create a reading nook

This space at the top of the stairs was so awkward.

It’s kind of a walk-through room and it didn’t really know what to do with itself.

And then?

I came up with the idea to turn standard bookcases into built-ins and it created this reading nook. Consider turning an awkward corner or alcove like this into a cozy reading nook. Add a couch, tons of pillows and store your favorite books on the bookshelves.

This space went from awkward to one of my favorite places in the entire house.

You can see the DIY on how to transform bookcases into built-ins here.

ways to repurpose underused space reading nook

See what I mean?

There are so many opportunities with every nook and cranny.

From transforming the space under your stairs into a functional storage closet to creating a cozy reading nook in an alcove, I hope these ideas inspire you to make the most of every square inch.

And the moral of our space-saving story?

There’s always a little more space just waiting to be discovered. 🙂

PS There are tons more ideas and projects pinned here.

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  1. Image for Liz Shivel Liz Shivel

    Hi KariAnne, I always enjoy reading your blogs. They always accompany my early morning coffee! I look forward to this combo every morning! 😁 I enjoyed all of these suggestions but my favorites are: the plate rack, which I want to do; the storage under the stairs, as I need that too on a smaller scale; and the bookcases on either side of the upstairs doors on the landing; and, the window seat! 🌻 I know you’ve mentioned the shades of white paint you use, but since your moldings, painted furniture, woodwork, bookcases, etc., blend so nicely and seem to always match, is there one shade of white you use most for these and which color is it? Enjoy the long weekend! Memorial Day 🇺🇸

  2. Image for JC JC

    Absolutely brilliant....each one! I'm tucking the window seat, plate rack, under stair room, and hidden Murphy bed on my list of future projects for a new build. Each one is such space savers and so, so useful and pretty! Thank you for this inspirational post...as always!

  3. Image for Patricia Patricia

    wonderful! I don't have a window seat, but I have a window couch surrounded by bookshelves and it's my favorite space in our whole (rather snug) apartment. I'm busy reorganizing my closet yet again (adding pull out shelves), trying to make every inch work extra hard.

  4. Image for Kris Kris

    I am fascinated by small space living ideas. Teeny tiny apartments with great storage suck me in when they are featured. Thanks for the ideas, and yes, we have a trundle bed in my daughter's room!

  5. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Well now you have inspired me to take a walk around my house! I loved all of your creative ideas and projects. Amazing as always dear friend❣️

  6. Image for Rizae Rizae

    Love the shelving unit built around the door! Yup, I took pics of it and plan on building this around my dining area/kitchen doorway as our home is tiny, 800 square feet total. Thanks for these ideas. Have a funtastic Memorial Day Weekend with family and friends....

  7. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Hi KA! So funny, when my younger daughter lived in Southern Cali she once lived right on the beach and her tiny place was only 80 square feet. So I completely get ya on this one. To this day my daughter is the most organized purging less-is-more-and-a-place-for-everything kind of gal. The irony is her daughter, my 6 year old grand: she is a collector, saver, hoarder girl and hahaha like vinegar and water those two when it comes to trying to keep that little emotionally attached to everything saving girl. Their house is small on today's scale - my daughter likes cozy - and keeps a lovely clean organized home. But lawd she's got her hands full now, haha. Great post. Have a safe, happy and fun holiday weekend.

  8. Image for Sue Sue

    KariAnne, I read your blog all the time and admire your pretty home. Could you tell me where you found those cute white with black polka-dotta curtains in your first photo of a reading "nook"? Thank you. Happy summer!

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      Sue, You are so sweet! I bought those years ago from IKEA. I found some that are similar from Amazon! Here are the links (affiliates): https://amzn.to/3N0gmYc https://amzn.to/45wW7sm happy day! KariAnne

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