Picture of Loft beds with bookshelf ladders
My daughter has always had her own room, but envies her brothers' bunk bed. So I built her a loft bed that look likes a floating cloud, which made her happy and created a little more space in her room. It uses some of the design principles of the one-legged bunk bed I posted previously - namely using the walls as part of the frame. However, this one has a heavy duty combination ladder/bookshelf for support, rather than a single leg. It's built using simple joinery out of construction lumber (2x4 and 2x6) and plywood, it's incredibly solid, and it only cost about $150 to build.

And pretty much as soon as I'd built that one, my eldest son moved into a room of his own... and wanted a loft bed, too. His incorporates a second bookshelf, a desk, and a secret compartment, and is designed for someone with longer legs, more books, and who isn't fussed about sleeping on a cloud...
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Step 1: Design: loft bed #1

Picture of Design: loft bed #1
One end of the cloud loft bed (from here on in, #1) is a combination ladder/bookshelf. It's angled at a 4:1 ratio, which equals 14º away from vertical. It has six steps and six shelves, and can hold nearly three linear meters (10') of books. The bed is about as high off the ground as it can be and still retain head room above, with 8' ceilings (important so the occupant can sit up in bed).

The side of one of the beds is a stylized cloud. It's pretty cute for an eight-year old, but I have no illusions that a teenager will necessarily think it's just as cool, so I anticipate removing it and replacing it at some stage with some other design. The ladder and bookcase are pretty future-proof, I hope - it's quite comfortable for an adult to climb, and we all need storage for books.

Click on the icon below to download the SketchUp 3D design file for this loft bed, and use it as a starting point to design your own.
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Is this possible to construct with just hand tools and a power drill? Thanks!

makendo (author)  leahericachung4 days ago

Sure; it will be harder to get perfect joints but structurally it will be just fine.

How difficult would this be to disassemble if I needed to move it?

makendo (author)  coral.goodrich8 days ago

It's easy enough to break down into two large pieces: the bed base and the ladder. That just requires unscrewing the 4 lag screws into the wall plus the screws connecting the two parts. They're heavy and bulky but not difficult for 2 people to move. Not really designed for regular moving though - I'd go for something more lightweight.

mitch.duke made it!23 days ago

Great instruction! I used your design (with a few tweaks) last year when I built my son's bed. He loves his "big boy bed"!

makendo (author)  mitch.duke23 days ago

Great stuff! thanks for posting the photo.

Can I have a queen mattress on?
makendo (author)  yolanda.torres.792329 days ago

Sure, see step 4, and read the comments section - other people have done exactly that.

benjamin.burton.9887 made it!1 month ago

I made it! This is modified to fit a full size bed with a rail, headboard, desk, and bookcase. The headboard has a shelf that lifts up with a storage compartment underneath, and the light is just a strip light with a switch. The desk and bookshelves under the bead are not actually attached by they are a VERY tight fit. It was an awesome project for my daughter's birthday, and she loved it. We sent her to her grandparents for the weekend and did this along with repainting her room and some decorations. It was a hit!

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makendo (author)  benjamin.burton.98871 month ago

Good stuff. I like the illuminated headboard & many other tweaks you made. Thanks for posting!

instructablesdstark made it!1 month ago

Ended up making it the same way as the original. My ceilings are a bit lower so adjusted for that. Also, used this as an excuse to get a pocket hole jig which came in handy on the rail. Nice and sturdy, daughter loves it.

makendo (author)  instructablesdstark1 month ago

Looks great! Thanks for posting the picture.

Unrulyjulie12 months ago

Is there a lot involved to make this into a full size bed loft?

I made it into a full sized bed, and used 2x6s on the sides, more so that they would extend up and hold the matress in rather than because it needed it. The support under the bed is still 2x4 but I added an additional support so there are supports at the foot, head, and 2 in the middle. And yes, the Bookcase is much nicer! I'll add pictures also.

makendo (author)  Unrulyjulie12 months ago

The design could accommodate a bigger mattress (double, queen, king) no problem, but you might like to use 2x6s in place of the 2x4s in the frame. Bonus: you'd get a much wider bookcase!

Looks great, do you think it would work to mount straight legs on the head end to make the bed free standing. I'm thinking a 2*6 mounted flush under the bed frame or flush on one side and outside on the other.

I did exactly that. I used 2x8 and extended them above the bed to create a headboard shelf area. The bed was pretty sturdy without mounting it to the wall, but did have some movement in it, so I ended up mounting it to the wall, though I probably didn't need to mount it as well. I will add a few images also.

makendo (author)  instructablesdstark4 months ago

Sure, but without bracing it will wobble... so you will probably end up screwing it to the wall anyway.

burgzt made it!6 months ago

We did it! My son and I spent couple days on that fun project! One day was spent on building and other on assembling. Now the paint job awaits. Meantime we're looking for best color palette and looking forward to loft bed adjustments: rope ladders, swing, etc..

makendo (author)  burgzt6 months ago

Looks great! Thanks for posting the pictures.

moelhole6 months ago

Did you use any verticals behind the cloud for extra support, or were they unnecessary? Thank you for the information and great design.

makendo (author)  moelhole6 months ago

No, not necessary, though do note the single vertical at the foot of the bed extending up from the leg of the bed.

icmevans7 months ago

Im considering making this for my new apartment room. Im a college student. However the floor is all wood, what would you recommend for the bottoms?

makendo (author)  icmevans7 months ago

I'd just use some rubber from an old bike tire under each leg to protect the floor and prevent the leg from slipping.

icmevans makendo7 months ago

Apperciate the fast response! Any suggestions on incorperating a dresser?

makendo (author)  icmevans7 months ago

Buy one and shove it under there? You could customize the shelves to instead be a set of drawers with increasing depth as you went down, but that would be a lot of work.

ndnfld made it!8 months ago

great instruction. I used the idea but changed it.
My son really loves it and he is very proud of it.

makendo (author)  ndnfld8 months ago

Nice, thanks for posting the picture. I'm enjoying how everyone is building these slightly differently!

ibowen11 months ago

Would this be as sturdy if it was for a full bed? What is the weight capacity?

makendo (author)  ibowen11 months ago

Yes. Add another 2x4 crossmember under the plywood if you're in the least bit concerned. It is massively overengineered compared to most commercial bunk/loftbeds; it's built more like a deck than a bed.

ibowen makendo11 months ago

Thanks for responding so quickly!

ChiDoug1 year ago

First, I'll echo previous opinions that you are a freakin' stud Makendo -- thanks for posting your design. Here is a pic of my rendition of your loft -- I may add bookshelfs later. I used wood salvaged from a demolished mansion in Detroit. The bedroom door forced me to change ladder angle to 10 degrees, and bevel the left leg. My son loves it - thanks again!

makendo (author)  ChiDoug1 year ago

Great work - it looks really different & I like how you tied it in to the look of the room.

yuravgjoe1 year ago
Finished the bed and my daughter loves it. Thanks for the great plans and fun project. I added a secret compartment at the head of the bed and it is a hit. Added shelves below the bed too. If I can figure out how I will post a pic.
makendo (author)  yuravgjoe1 year ago
Hey, fantastic! Looks great. Very cool to see it built.
yuravgjoe1 year ago
I'll be making your #2 bed and bookshelf over Christmas break for my 10 year old daughter. Thanks for the plans and the photographs. I downloaded SketchUp and had lots more fun with that than I should have.

The studs in my wall on the short side of the bed are so far apart I will have to extend the 2x4 frame for the head of the bed into the bookcase, which won't be bad, as I will have more anchor for that bookshelf to the wall. The wife says she doesn't want 2x10 shelves, so I may use regular shelves with a 1x2 facing and shelf hardware on all but the top and bottom bookshelf cross pieces and the center shelf which will sit atop the aforementioned 2x4 attached to the wall. I hope this will leave the bookshelf enough support.

Looking forward to the task. Hopefully it will be picture worthy. Thanks again for the instructions!

I had the same question about screwing in the steps on two sides of the middle support, so I'm glad you answered the comment below.
sinnomeiyu1 year ago
Hello again. Thank you for your prompt reply. The metric measurements are very useful for me as I live in Paris where people are not familiar with feet and inches. I've some more questions:

1) Is spruce wood OK (not too soft) for the construction of your loft bed?

2) Would you please give me the ground length of the bed (from the wall to the ladder)? Because I intend to get built this bed for my son along a wall where there is a door. If the ladder depass the door, would you advise us to reduce the degree of the inclination of the ladder and book shelf so that it'll be less long on the ground even though it won't be as practical to climb up and down the ladder.
3) There is another wall in the room of my son where the bookshelf will fall on where the gas heater is. Do you think we can reduce the width of the bookshelf so that we can still screw the bed to the wall, but then one of the end corners won't have ground support.
4) I don't know how I could screw the inner ends of steps and shelves as they share the same vertical lumber and each step and shelf are aligned? Would you kindly explain?
Many thanks.
makendo (author)  sinnomeiyu1 year ago
1. Spruce is fine (that's what the beds shown are made of)
2. The ladder makes the bed about 0.5 m longer. However, I strongly encourage you to download Sketchup and the file posted, and you can take all the dimensions off that plan (and change it according to your needs).
3. I don't quite understand what you mean, but you should check out my one-legged bunk bed, which shows how you only need ground support in one of 4 corners. Your walls are good for the rest.
4. Sure. I drilled holes at a slight angle so that they started just under the bookshelf and emerged into the middle of the step.
sinnomeiyu1 year ago
Hello Makendo. You're a genie. The loft beds look magnificent. They are so different and much better-looking than those we see in the commerce. Just one question: Are the sizes of lumber 2x6, 2x4 all in inch please? Thank you in advance for your answer.
makendo (author)  sinnomeiyu1 year ago
Thanks. Yes, but these are nominal dimensions - the actual measurements are substantially less than 2" and 4". For example, a "2x4" is actually 38 x 88 mm. You can extract the exact values from the Sketchup file.
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