Where to put my books, maybe in the stairway?

Has anybody ever put custom built shelves or bookcases in a stairway? Seems like a good place. It’s 3 feet wide, so maybe I could put up some 10 inch shelves to hold books, instead of housing them on crappy bookcases I bought at the local big box store that take up valuable floor space in my house.

36" is the minimum width* allowed for stairs, so there’s no room to put up shelves.

  • local building codes may vary, but 36" is the usual spec for wall to wall width, and 31.5" from handrail to wall to allow safe egress.

It’s 37" right now. However, I could always just take them down when if ever we sell the house. There’s only two rooms upstairs, my studio, and my wife’s office which she never uses. The second floor isn’t even heated (we live in Vermont).

my sister did the same thing. She likes books very much and always wanted to see books anywhere in her house, which made it already a part of the overall interior design. The stairs in her house is not that wide but she was able to work on installing pretty book cases which i think improved the look more. i think you can work on this too, but of course try to plan for the proper sizes and angles of the shelves.

One clever place I’ve seen bookshelves is high, at the level of the door frame, running across the wall of a room. Depending on your ceiling height, you could get one or two shelves of books. You’ll need a step-stool to get a book down, but they are easy to see and it doesn’t take up floor space.

Now that is a pretty cool idea I never thought of!

there is a library ladder/chair where a straight backed wood chair is hinged so that it flips to be a short library ladder (tall step stool height).

i’ve seen it in real life and found plans for it on the net.

True, but you only need that space at your widest point; so, at hip height. It is perfectly okay to make shelves at above head - above shoulder heigth.

Some more ideas.

It looks nice, too.
Another idea is double Book shelves. You have book cases that are a bit deeper then average, and then make two shelves per shelf, so that you only see the upper half of the back row.
Not like this, but with the second row elevated, like this.

Hello everyone!

Where to put books… this is actually a great interior design question. Well, if you have a room to spare, that will be a great place to house all your books, and set up a reading sofa/ chair.

If you don’t have space to spare, the stairway makes sense, too, provided that your books are aptly protected from dusts and all.
Hope this helps. Great thread by the way.

Peter Vekselman

Just to clarify, building codes don’t exist merely for the instance of when you sell the house, they’re for your own safety.
I can also guess that your local Fire code does not allow for stairwells to be obstructed by furniture, shelves, etc… and/or to be used for storage of combustibles such as books.

In case of fire, you would not want to have anything impeding a quick exit, especially burning shelves of books. The firemen would prefer not to have to climb a burning staircase to get you either.

I too have the need for more bookshelf space. Unless you’re mega-rich, houses in the UK are pretty titchy. Sadly my stairs are too narrow. I have some over-door shelves for books and they are really useful. I have some Ikea Billy bookshelves and they’re good as you can double-shelf paperbacks, although I don’t do that but have ornaments etc in front of the books which saves space. I’ve seen a great chair called a bibliochaise that’s basically a bookshelf you sit in. I covet it but it’s not cheap. Google it, there’s a footstool version too. A good DIYer could maybe use it as inspiration.

Been thinking about my original idea of putting bookcases in the stairwell. Not so much room since I’ve been storing my beer there… Maybe eight six-packs and two cases.