Our current house actually has a "cupboard under the stairs" like this one. We haven't decorated it nearly as nicely (or, um, at all) but my 3yo loves hanging out in there, and occasionally taking everything from the living room and stuffing it inside. =P
Home Projects: Under-Eave Storage Space - Yankee Magazine. This is where I want the tilt-out laundry basket, a small frig, the fire safe, some book shelves for storage baskets, and/or an electric fireplace for winter warmth.
The eaves in a loft create a space that tapers away, not giving a lot of height even at the front. But by putting shelves and drawers into these spaces, can create a neat, streamlined look to a room, that also maximise the space that is available.