I just recently finished an upstairs playroom and associated fully-
enclosed staircase. Because of the layout of the stairs, I put a
storage cabinet into one of the side walls of the stairs to make use
of some dead space. The cabinet is on a person's right as they ascend
the stairs. The top of the cabinet is level, while the bottom follows
the angle of the stairs. My original plan was to divide the cabinet
into four cabinets, each with a door that is angled at the bottom to
match the slope of the stairs. The door bottoms would be close enough
to the stairs that they would have to open toward the "downhill" side
to avoid hitting the stair nosings. This maximizes space in the new
cabinets, but I worry about the ergonimics of having to walk to the
"uphill" side of a cabinet to access it. I want to use cup hinges
with solid doors to match existing cabinets in the house. Open
shelving is not an option. I have considered the following options:
1: Doors hinge on the right, opening downhill as described above.
Maximum space in cabinet. Potential ergonomics issue having to open
from uphill side. Potential safety issue if person falls down stairs
into open door.
2: Doors hinge on the left, opening uphill. Doors would either be
rectangular to clear stairs. I have made a drawing of what this would
look like and it's not very attractive. Space would be reduced but
ergonomics and safety in the event of a fall would be better.
3: Doors hinge on the left, and have sloped bottoms raised enough to
clear stairs. Reduced space in cabinet. Smallest cabinet door
(leftmost as viewed from the stairs) would almost become a triangle
with minimal room for hinges on the short side. Less dangerous if
someone falls, as they would close the door rather than be caught by
What options have I failed to consider? Thanks in advance.
Hinge on Top, slide into very top of cabinet opening (or at least part
way into top.) Like Barrister's Bookcase.
Rockler's web site has an example of Barrister's Bookcase.
Have you considered making one cabinet 1/2 high opening and a false
bottom inside cabinet so there is a hiding place below? Hiding place as
in Santa Clause's early-delivery storage during December and Xmas lights
storage during rest of year?
on 3/16/2009 8:03 AM (ET) the_tool_man wrote the following:
So, the tops of your cabinets will be square, but the bottoms will be
angled to match the stairway angle? Does this stairway have a level
ceiling or an angled ceiling that matches the angle of the stairs? If
the latter, the square cabinet tops will be stepped to match the stair
Are you going to maximize the height of the cabinets (all the way to the
If not, just raise the cabinet so that the angled door bottom clears the
stair nosing with left side hinges.
Cut a piece of cardboard to match a door shape and use a length of tape
as a hinge so you can figure the minimum height from the stairs to clear
I would run a length of molding (chair rail?), from the top of the
stairway to the bottom, along those angled door bottoms to bring it all
together for aesthetic reasons.
I neglected to mention it, but the cabinets will be recessed into the
wall by about 1/4". All of the cabinets are level at the top, and
stop at the same elevation. This is because there is a structural
beam hidden in the wall above the space where the cabinet will go.
Square up the doors, each with a bottom shelf level with the bottom of
the door. To recapture the lost space below, make a nook accessible from
the side of the cabinet downhill from it. For the bottom cabinet, make a
false floor with a hinged lid, or a lift-out lid with a fingerhole. If
the space in the wall is actually square (like the dead space above a
closet or something?) the shelves could actually be continuous, so you
put long skinny things in there from the lower cabinet space.
You said 'playroom'- just how young are the kids? And how deep is the
space? Be aware that small kids love little hidden rooms like this, and
they WILL try to hide in there, if they fit. Consider ventilating the
space, and definitely put a smoke detector in there. If the space can't
be made kid-safe, put locks on the cabinet doors, and use them. Making
the doors so they will only stay closed if they are locked, is a good
way to make sure they stay locked. (as long as one kid can't lock
another kid in there, of course.)
I agree the ergonomics would be bad if they were hinged on the right;
to get something out of there you would be bending way over, no? And
in danger of pitching down the stairs with your armload of whatever?
I got a misery in my back just thinking about it. How formal is this
space - could you get away with sliding doors or a rolltop-desk type
closure? -- H
On Wed, 18 Mar 2009 15:00:27 -0700 (PDT), Heathcliff
I don't think hinged doors on the stairway will meet code. You need
sliding doors, opening downhill with the tracks horizontal at the top
and at the bottom of the uphill end of the door. Think minivan
sliding door for the bottom track.
You have considered all the options quite well.
I agree that hinge on the left would be preferred for many reasons,
accessability being the primary one. Rather than worry about the
small amount of lost access consider using trim to give the illusion
of the sloped door bottoms while squaring them off. It sounds like
the space lost would not be all that usable since it's shape would be
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