When we first meet Harry Potter, he's living in a tiny storage space under the staircase in his aunt and uncle's house. While Harry's closet was full of fuse boxes, spiders and sawdust, we've reimagined the cupboard under the stairs and created a cozy hideaway perfect for reading, journaling and games of Harry Potter chess!
The main room pictured here is the Magical Common Room at The Storyteller's Cottage, and you can see the Before and After transformation HERE. But what's under the staircase? Let's take a look back at what this closet looked like when we first bought the house.
This space was used as a dumping ground for random craft supplies. Once the previous tenants moved out and we could get a good look at the layout of the room, it became obvious that this space would make a great magical spot inspired by the Gryffindor Common Room, and we could even decorate the closet under the stairs!
This little spot has wood floors, built-in shelves, and even a rudimentary lightbulb with a pull-string to turn it on! The doorway is small, and the ceiling is sloped, but it's the perfect spot for children to curl up and lose themselves in their imagination.
I started by painting the exterior of the door in the same dark brown as the rest of the trim in the main room. All of this trim had previously been painted white, and since a castle like Hogwarts would have had unpainted wooden doors and trim, we tried to mimic that with our dark paint.
All we needed was a little pun on the door, and the stage was set!
I started furnishing the cupboard with a tiny nightstand that I found for $10 on Craigslist. I used two small chairs to flank the table. Originally I purchased four of these for $25 on Craigslist, thinking they'd match the other dining room furniture, but when I got them home I realized they were significantly smaller than the chairs I was trying to match, so I was thrilled to find that they fit into the little closet perfectly. Our Harry Potter chess set fit exactly onto the nightstand as well!
From this view, seated inside the closet, you can see how small the space is, and how steep the ceiling is.
I found a long oriental runner on Craigslist for $15, and a simple wood shelf for $10.
Then it was time to start filling up the shelves with the kinds of things Harry would have collected in his private space. Since he clearly slept under the stairs, I started with a big beanbag and added pillows and blankets.
A close inspection of various still photos from the Harry Potter movies revealed that Harry collected his favorite things in old boxes and containers, just like many children his age. As he had no money to speak of, his treasures were items he picked up here and there, like rocks, leaves, old bottles and other small items that no one else wanted.
Everything that Harry owned was handed down to him from his cousin Dudley, including a meager assortment of discarded soldiers and action figures.
Harry's books were also quite worn, clearly discarded and unwanted by someone else, but precious to him.
Harry's worn out shoes sit right in the middle of the space, as he has nowhere else to store them, and he has dragged an old broom into his sanctuary as well, perhaps to make completing his chores quicker when his Aunt Petunia demands that he clean something immediately.
While Harry had no inkling there was an entire world of wizards outside his door when he first came to live with the Dursleys, later on he did return to Privet Drive for several summer breaks from Hogwarts, so a few magical items might have made their way into his cupboard.
He was given a real bedroom once the Dursleys realized that he could use his magic on them, but I like to think that he might have occasionally spent time in his childhood cupboard, if only for some peace and quiet.
Creating a cupboard under the stairs was such fun, and the visitors to The Storyteller's Cottage always gasped with delight when they saw it for the first time. Unfortunately, the house closed to the public during the pandemic, and is now used by a coffee shop. This room has become their business office, but the cupboard and its Dumble-door remain :)
What will you add to YOUR cupboard under the stairs?