This client has an historic house in downtown Ipswich MA. Each week she works a few days at her office in Boston, but also works from home, and has used the long narrow space at the bottom of her stairwell as her home office. She asked me to design and build a desk and shelving that would maximize space and create a comfortable environment.

The new stairway office
The new stairway office

Wall units, desk side: Three identical 11 1/2” deep x 33 ½ ” wide x 48” tall shelf units were constructed and installed together so that the total width of the combined shelving extended from the corner of the room to the edge of the door casing, approximately 101”. The shelf frames were constructed of ¾” birch plywood, with recessed brass shelving standards. Shelving is 1×12 #2 pine boards (11 ¼” actual depth), mounted on brass adjustable clips. All surfaces were finished with 3 coats clear semi-gloss polyurethane.

Stairway layout
Stairway layout

Desk unit: A 44.5” wide x 24” deep desk x 30.4” high desk was constructed with under-counter storage for the computer, and a sliding maple keyboard tray. The desktop is continuous with a work surface resting on two lateral file cabinets purchased through IKEA, extending from the corner to the door casing, approximately 101”. The front and side edge of the combined surface are joined and finished with a ¾” x 1 ½” maple board. The cabinets we used were two Bestar lateral file cabinets 19.6 D x 28.4 W x 30.4 inches H and two Bestar Embassy vertical file cabinets to fit between radiator and angled ceiling underneath stairs.

Under stairs shelving: Two units were installed under the stairs. One shelving section was mounted at approximately 2” above the radiator, with one side angled to match the stair slope, approximately 41 ½” tall. Shelves on this section will be fixed in place with 3 shelf surfaces and 13” space between each. A small shelving section was installed to the right of the radiator, approximately 20” wide x 12” deep x 35” tall. All surfaces were finished with 3 coats clear semi-gloss polyurethane.

Under the stairs
Under the stairs

The client was very happy with the design and construction of her new office, enjoying the greatly increased storage space, more room to work in, and its appearance as the first thing a visitor sees when they walk in her front door.

Update: The clients moved to another historic house in Ipswich, and in 2017 asked me to build a similar set for her new office.

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