Reclaimed Crate Staircase for Tiny House Interior Design

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I’ve been through dozens of tiny homes, and no two are alike. It’s obvious to me that tiny housers have gigantic imaginations. My design tips are merely suggestions. There are no limitations when it comes to creating your perfect tiny sanctuary. Today I’d like to discuss our reclaimed crate staircase design.

Small space design is a challenge, but that’s why it is so rewarding!

reclaimed crate staircase

Our Reclaimed Crate Staircase

We wanted a staircase in our tiny house, but we also wanted precious floor space. What a conundrum! Every staircase design we found occupied too much floor space, so we decided to design our own. Building a staircase can be tricky. I’m not sure which of us had the idea (we both try to claim credit), but at some point one of us came up with the idea of using reclaimed crates. A quick google search led us to an antique crate collector – an artist living in Venice California. Within 24 hours we had a dozen crates to play with.

Reclaimed crate staircase 2
Our stairs coming together

Reclaimed Crate Staircase Formation and Reinforcement

It took an entire day of playing real life Tetris with the crates, but we managed to find a formation that would work for the three of us (including our dog). Each step is 14.25″ tall, which isn’t to code, but it works for us. By making the staircase short and steep, we were able to reduce the amount of floorspace usually required. Guillaume and I practiced hiking up the steps and decided they were “doable,” hoping at some point muscle memory would kick in. We also installed a handrail to make it an easier climb. We practiced with our dog a few times, and now she races up and down with ease.

The crates were ancient; some of them were even falling apart. We attached 1x3s to the sides of the crates, hidden behind trim. We hammered out old nails and replaced them with new screws when necessary. We secured the crates to the wall using screws and 1x2s when necessary.

reclaimed crate staircase 3
Figuring out storage with shelves, drawers and hanging space

Storage is Essential

Lastly, we added storage compartments to the crates, using ornate knobs, reclaimed hinges and wicker baskets. We now use our crate staircase for storing clothing, books, camera gear and dry food. Bungie cords, hook & eyes and shelf lips hold everything in place when we move the house. This way I don’t have to pack it up at all!


Our First Step

The first step in our reclaimed crate staircase is unique. Instead of a fruit crate or an ammunition crate (like the others we used), our first step is a small reclaimed wine barrel. I wanted to incorporate a few round shapes in my interior design, and I also wanted the entrance to my staircase to start in the middle of my great room. Also, because the first step is at about shin level, the round shape doesn’t cause bumps and bruises when we clumsily march around the house.

Cutting the wine barrel was a bit of a challenge. We secured the staves with metal wire before cutting the barrel with a jigsaw. If we hadn’t done that, the staves would have fallen apart as soon as we made the cut. We reinforced the inside of the barrel with 1x2s and then we secured it to the floor. In the future, I’d love to add storage to the inside of the wine barrel. Perhaps I’ll store wine bottles inside my wine crate!

Watch the below video to see our staircase in action:

More Tiny House Interior Design Tips:

Choosing Interior Paint for a Tiny Space

Mixing Design Styles in a Tiny Home




  1. Brian Granger
    September 6, 2015 / 9:09 pm

    thanks for sharing.
    Did you start with a re-purposed travel trailer frame or ?

    • User Avatar September 8, 2015 / 5:43 pm

      Nope. We purchased a brand new Tumbleweed trailer. We didn’t want to take any risks as we knew we’d put thousands of miles on the trailer with 10,000lbs on it!

  2. Sophia
    May 22, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    Hi Jenna and Guillaume. I saw your shutters in the video. I love them; they’re simple but elegant, and extremely functional. Have you ever felt like you needed shutters on your other windows?

    • User Avatar May 29, 2015 / 3:11 pm

      Thank you! We like them too. We have never felt the need to add shutters to the other windows, at least not for protection. The shutters would add weight and complexity (making sure they don’t swing open going down the road), and once we have one side window with shutters, we’d need to have all the others as well, but that’s not really feasible. Some of our windows just don’t have room on the side for shutters.

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