John O'Hagan

Think beyond traditional design. This unique bookcase offers a stylish and functional element in an unexpected place.

Following the rules doesn't always mean following the norm. Instead of serving only as a path from one floor to the next, the savvy stairwell in this home offers creative storage and display space.

Because the house is in a master-planned residential development, there are regulations concerning design and architecture. "The requirement of having windows in the stairwell left us with a strange transition between stair treads and wall," says interior designer Lila Adams. Instead of bemoaning the neighborhood covenant, Lila worked with a carpenter to create something fun. To avoid ordinary linear shelves, boxes were built to fill the gap between the steps and the window. "Using random sizes and shapes, you obtain an artistic and visually stimulating stairway and a great place to stop and ponder your next beach read," says Lila.

Get the Look
Create your own built-in niches by carving space from existing walls. This space is located in the standard 14 1⁄2 inches between 2 x 4 studs. Use a stud finder (or knock on the wall with your knuckles) to locate the studs. You also need to be sure there are no electrical outlets, water pipes, or other lines within that section of wall. Cut out the gypsum drywall between the studs, and then remove any insulation. (Opt for interior- rather than exterior-facing walls to avoid insulation that maintains inside temperatures.) Build a wooden box frame to fit within the cutout. If desired, add shelves. Install trim around the edges for a finished look, and then paint the built-in. This is an inexpensive way to add display space for your favorite books and collectibles.

Clever Storage by the Stairs
Page 161: Development is WaterColor, Seagrove Beach, Florida,; interior design by Lila Adams Design, Atlanta, (678) 230-1426; architecture by David Riddle Architecture, Atlanta, (770) 889-0186; builder was John Willis Homes of Florida, Duluth, Georgia, (770) 623-1496; cabinets by Jimmy Sykes, 30-A Cabinetry, Seagrove Beach, Florida, (850) 534-0822.


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