A couple of years ago, my brother unintentionally solved a nagging problem I had. One day, randomly, he started talking about this loft bed he saw. He wanted to know if I thought we could figure out how to build a couple for his sons.
Now, I hadn’t thought about loft beds since college, but I was confident we could build it. That’s when the lightbulb went off. What a fantastic idea!
My husband and I purchased a small house way out in the country with BIG character. Then we proceeded to have two children – living in a two bedroom house. What a dilemma!
We didn’t want to move from our distinctive home, but what were we going to do? Even bunk beds weren’t a good option. They literally took up half of the boys’ bedroom. Small house problems! I needed a creative solution.
Loft beds were the solution I was looking for. We could build a loft for both beds and leave the underneath completely open (except for the ladder of course.) This would allow space for toy storage and functional space to play. I would go on to build cubbies to organize their toys as well, but that’s a different post for a different day!
My brother tackled his loft bed first. It had shelves on one end and steps that were cubbies on the other. At the same time, I was planning out our left beds. They were a little tricky because I didn’t want any support posts under the beds. We had to make sure they were secured by their attachment to the wall and a couple of support posts to the ceiling. Because of these criteria, we made our loft beds built-in instead of movable.
First things first, I looked up the size of a twin mattress and measured the walls in the room. I also noted any windows and ceiling vents, or any other obstacle to consider. This information helps determine the layout that will work best in your room. I didn’t have a lot of choices because the room is so small, but went with the two beds in a L-shape with the ladder in the middle to help with support.
The width of the room dictated that one bed would lay lengthwise across it with the end of the other bed next to it. There was 4” extra space, so it was almost perfect. Don’t forget, you have to factor in the board width anywhere there is a board. For instance, if you are building a movable loft, you will have boards on all sides. If it is built-in, you don’t need them. I don’t have them on our beds. I like to draw out pictures, so I can remember all those details. Here is an example of my Loft bed plan sheet for this build. I used a ladder plan from Ana White which you can find here.
We decided to attach our beds to the walls using angle iron. This would be really sturdy and take up minimal space. My husband welded the corners to create a frame of angle iron. This allowed us to cut and set the ¾” plywood onto the ledges of the angle iron. We then could attach the outside boards to the angle iron as well, keeping the design minimal.
The ladder in the middle is screwed into the floor since it is used for support in the center of the beds. We added two additional supports that go up through the ceiling. One of the supports went perfectly into a stud (lucky us!). The other one didn’t, so we added a piece of wood perpendicular to the studs and attached it to that piece. The supports are screwed into studs at the top and the bottom 2X6 on the bed. We notched a couple of boards to make this work, but we thought it would be smarter to do it this way.
That’s the fun thing about creating a built-in. You have to guess your best on whether it will hold. Good news! This one is crazy sturdy. All four of us climb up there and have a movie night on occasion.
Important for moms to consider – can I climb into that loft to make the bed? Really tricky if you can’t. My boys make their own beds, but I do the initial remake on laundry day so I need access. You have to get accustomed to making beds in the limited space.
Also important for comfort is head space. You want them to have enough space to the ceiling that they don’t feel claustrophobic. We used a standard height of 56” from the floor in an 8’ room and it is perfect. I could easily sleep in this loft comfortably and I also can fit a tall dresser underneath it.
Once all the logistics are figured out, comes the fun part. You can pick out the side boards and the character of your loft bed. I have seen some very creative ones on the internet. We kept ours pretty simple. We routed a few edges but wanted it to have a simple “tree stand in the woods” look.
I prepared a cut list and a shopping list to make our build efficient. We built ours in one weekend. We cut, routed, sanded, and stained all the boards on day one. Day two was install day. My plans were close to perfect. We only had to trim one board! Not too shabby!
Overall, we couldn’t be more pleased with how these turned out. My boys love their room and it is way more functional than before. And, it was an ideal solution that cost $350 and a weekend. Next, I had to tackle the toy situation with some cubbies! Look for that post soon! Also, check out the supercharged loft bed my nephew got!
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