What the heck can you do with shelf-basement space??
This is a question that I’m not sure has many great answers. Believe me, I’ve looked! For the most part, all I found when I searched “shelf basement ideas” were tips on adding bookshelves to basements…not what I was going for. Luckily, I did come up with three ideas for using this awkward space.
In case you’re not familiar, “shelf-basements” occur where a foundation is supported by a protrusion of dirt (frequently encased in concrete). In this area, they are often 3 feet tall and 3-4 feet deep. The area above is open up to the ceiling or rafters. This large “shelf” is hard to utilize and commonly just takes up floor space and collects dust.
3 Ideas for Utilizing Shelf-Basement Space
1) Turn it into play space or reading nook
My friend, Anna Tribolet, recently sent me the coolest picture of her shelf-basement redo. I was blown away by her creativity!
From the floor, she built a sloped climbing wall, complete with holds, leading to the shelf area. A twin bed with privacy curtains sits on the shelf back dropped by a mural of snow-capped mountains. I can envision hours of play up there. Have a look at the photos below!
Add lighting, bookshelves, a large cushion or thin mattress, and lots of pillows and unused shelf space becomes lovely reading area for kids (and a few adults).
2) Create elegant built-ins
I’ve seen all sorts of versions of this, very few done well. Standard depth built-ins look really weird when they are pushed so far back that you’re reaching across a foot or more of shelf to open the doors. The trick is to accept that the shelf is impractically deep. When you add built-ins, resist the urge to start against the wall and end short of the shelf edge. Instead, either make super deep cabinets or bring them forward leaving some dead space behind them.
This idea will make the room look smaller, but less awkward.
3) Keep the space as open storage
This is the destiny of most shelf basements. They either go unused, or collect ornaments from holidays past. However, leaving them as open space can be done in a way that’s more helpful. If you have hobbies or crafts that collect tons of “stuff” add custom shelving to fit those items.
For example, a well-designed ski/snowboard rack would be a great use of space. A bin and cubby system would be a great way to organize camping gear or sewing projects. If you use your basement as living area, then adding attractive doors (such as the built-in idea above) will keep it looking attractive.
If you create a sleeping area in your basement, make sure there is proper egress in case of a fire, plus CO and smoke detectors. This point is often overlooked when converting these spaces.
Have you found a great way to use awkward basement shelf space? Please share so I can add your suggestions to this article!