Instructables

Loft beds with bookshelf ladders

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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

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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icmevansyesterday

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)  icmevansyesterday

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

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

makendo (author)  icmevansyesterday

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!18 days ago

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

1461189_10200982912995103_732706620_n.jpg
makendo (author)  ndnfld18 days ago

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

ibowen3 months ago

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

makendo (author)  ibowen3 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 makendo3 months ago

Thanks for responding so quickly!

ChiDoug6 months 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!

before2.JPG
makendo (author)  ChiDoug6 months ago

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

yuravgjoe6 months 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.
bed.jpg
makendo (author)  yuravgjoe6 months ago
Hey, fantastic! Looks great. Very cool to see it built.
yuravgjoe7 months 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.
sinnomeiyu8 months 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)  sinnomeiyu8 months 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.
sinnomeiyu8 months 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)  sinnomeiyu8 months 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.
grendel548 months ago
great design...wish it was not attached to the wall, then i might try it myself. Any thoughts on making it free standing?
makendo (author)  grendel548 months ago
Just add some 2x4 legs at the head end and some 45° braces to stop the wobbling.
Having said that - attaching it to the wall makes it rock solid and only leaves a few 1/4" holes when it's removed.... not much of a down side.
oatnshake10 months ago
About how long does it take too build ?
makendo (author)  oatnshake10 months ago
Both beds were weekend projects. If you have a miter saw, these beds are pretty easy to make.
sfsavage11 months ago
great and practical idea ,,thanks for the scheme!
i don't know whether my son or i love it more
20130828_BUNK.jpg
makendo (author)  sfsavage11 months ago
Nice job, looks great... I guess your son is not prone to rolling out of bed... :)
sfsavage makendo11 months ago
Thanks, he requested the 'bounce up' mounting option over the rail :)
And I modified his old Captains twin bed to queen size and grandma donated her old mattress ..it acts as a safety net
makendo (author)  sfsavage10 months ago
It's a great idea, I like it.
paracordbylane11 months ago
I think I am going to make one for my three year old. He has been asking for a new bed and my wife likes the look of this one. I don't think I'm gonna make it as high maybe 4ft.
And also add an entertainment center instead of a desk.
avillarama1 year ago
When I read that I thought of someone using the secret compartment to hold dead bodies... XD
makendo (author)  avillarama1 year ago
yeah... not the mental image I was trying to conjure up...
uncblueguy1 year ago
Built this loft with some modifications over the summer. Turned out great!!
makendo (author)  uncblueguy1 year ago
good stuff, glad to hear it
dana-dxb1 year ago
wish id seen this just a few days ago we billed a loft bed for my girls and its kinda waid abut 9 feats and length 6 coz its thats how the room is and now im having a hard time balancing it we add 4 legs on 4 corners but !! still ?
makendo (author)  dana-dxb1 year ago
Yeah, that is one gigantic bed you built, for sure. If you screw it to wall studs in a couple of places that ought to make it pretty rock solid, though.
thanx thats a good tip ill do that
swimberly1 year ago
Love it! I am in the planning stages for my daughter's tween room and I have a question...I noticed that you put a 1x6 on bed2 to finish the outer bed rail - How did you add that and still have the ladder rail flush?
Thanks
makendo (author)  swimberly1 year ago
It's actually a 2x6. For bed #2, there is no notch cut in the ladder rail, the 2x4 platform is just screwed to the inside of the rail. That allows the 2x6 horizontal rail to just be screwed to the side of the platform, flush with the ladder 2x6. Good luck with the build!
makendo (author)  makendo1 year ago
http://www.instructables.com/file/F9N3UC8GS3BDGAZ is probably the clearest picture. Notched on the side against the wall, but just screwed into the outer rail. The picture shows the platform just clamped in place.
Kudos on a really elegant design. I would love to add rails and build this as a play loft for my kids (eventually we will use it as a loft bed.) Unfortunately I can't bolt it to the walls. Do you think it would be stable if I replaced the wall bolts with 4 x 4 legs on the side opposite the ladder and braced the legs?
makendo (author)  marinebutterfly1 year ago
Thanks, and sure, though 4x4 is overkill - 4x2 would be fine. There are advantages with using your house as bracing, because without it, you'll probably need to brace in both directions, and you would also want to brace the bookshelf end as well. So it may end up looking a little less elegant...
bvandelune1 year ago
Do you have the loft bed plans in US standard measurements instead of mm?
Thanks
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