Introduction: Partially Freestanding Loft Bed Under $50

Picture of Partially Freestanding Loft Bed Under $50

Lofting a queen bed up five feet creates almost 200 cubic feet of usable space. The possibilities are endless: storage, another bed, a couch and living room area, a desk, a workshop, etc. (I chose a less conventional option: a grow tent full of vegetables and mealworms.) Using only a ladder for supporting the two edges not attached to the wall leaves the room a bit more spacious.

I built two versions of this bed: one takes about two hours to build and the other a bit longer, depending on available tools and skill level. Design files are attached with the optional cable suspension shown (pic below) if you prefer to have a ladder on the shorter side of the frame or not all.

Here's what you'll need:

  1. 2x6s - 6 @ $5 each = $30
  2. 2x3s - 5 @ $3 each = $15
  3. Screws = A few bucks.
  4. Saw - table saw is ideal, circular saw or mitre saw is next best option. Jigsaw or hand saw also works.
  5. Drill
  6. Optional tools: Pocket screw kit, Router, Joint Jig (I used a handsaw to create a simple box joint).
  7. Optional enhancements: Sander, Varnish.

Step 1: Choose Your Design

Picture of Choose Your Design

You can get creative with how you set this up, so feel free to embellish and add your upgrades in the comment section. I added a white curtain at the foot of the bed and mounted a projector in my closet ten feet behind it so I could watch movies in bed. Kudos if you know this Sean Penn classic.

Below are the CAD files if you want to tweak the design.

Step 2: Order of Operations

Picture of Order of Operations
  1. Build the frame.
  2. Attach strips of wood on the wall to rest frame on while screwing into wall.
  3. Hoist frame onto these ledges andscrew a temporary 2x3 onto the opposite side of frame for support until the ladder is added.
  4. Ensure frame is level and screw into wall.
  5. Add mattress.
  6. Add ladder and/or cables.

There were only two walls that could support this bed and so I needed a way to support the freestanding sides. The first version used a ladder on one side and cables on the other. This was later replaced with a sole ladder on the longer side that supported both free sides, eliminating the need for suspension cables.

Step 3: Build and Mount the Frame

Picture of Build and Mount the Frame

A combination of 2x6s and 2x3s create a strong, somewhat light, very affordable frame that can be screwed into the wall on two sides. I used 2x3s screwed into the walls to rest the frame on and a rudimentary ladder I had lying around to hold the other sides up while attaching. Any piece of wood also works.

The first version had the 2x3s mounted vertically to hold the mattress. The second version mounts them horizontally to create an additional 1.5" of head room. I also reduced the distance between the end slats and the frame to eliminate mattress sag. Below I have some tools and a grow tent vented to the outside.

Step 4: Ladder Construction

Picture of Ladder Construction

A stylish ladder is inviting and it's important that your loft does not scream, "He-Man Women Haters Club". Dividing the ladder in two creates shelving for many leather-clad books and such. I chose a 12° angle that is easy to climb yet doesn't protrude much into the rest of the room. A simple ladder can be created (pic above) or use a circular saw to cut stairs at an angle so they are flush with support beams and use a 1.5" router to create dado joints (pic below).

Step 5: Improvements

Picture of Improvements

Humans spend 1/3 of their lives sleeping, so why not make the one place you'll spend most of your life comfortable? The second ladder eliminated the top and bottom middle dividers for more storage options and a cleaner look. Dado joints eliminated the need for outside screws. Pocket screws on both the frame and ladder ensure no fasteners are visible. I wrapped the 2x3 slats with a sheet of fabric and stapled it from the top. This enabled me to use rough cuts that would never be seen and improves the appearance from below the bed.

Step 6: Eyehooks for Stability And/or Curtains

Picture of Eyehooks for Stability And/or Curtains

The first version had 3" eyehooks and 3/8" coated cable to hold the suspended edge of the frame. When these were no longer needed in the next build, I replaced them with 2" eyehooks and 1/4" coated cable for curtains that surround the bed and block out light and sound. It's amazing how much better I sleep with the curtains drawn shut.

Magnets are an easy way to find and mark studs.

Step 7: More Enhancements

Picture of More Enhancements

A draw curtain system provides a sense of privacy and also transforms your loft into a dark and silent cave for both daytime power naps and longer-term hibernation. A shelf next to the head of the bed holds water, books, Advil, and smelling scents to help fall asleep and wake up. A Zoom digital recorder is held to the side by magnet and enables me to record my dreams in the middle of the night. Turns out that binge-watching Breaking Bad causes me to dream about the DEA breaking down the door to my lofted meth lab.

In conclusion, this lofted bed creates an additional 50 square feet of bedroom and promotes better sleep. It's also fun to tell people about the mealworms I grow under my bed as a source of fat and protein. Please favorite and comment if you have questions and/or would like me to post information on the indoor garden. Thanks!


Aliceintrappingland (author)2017-01-23

Wow! Alot of those comments got intense! lol^^

Looking forward to trying this myself! Thanks for the instruction!

SethN1 (author)2015-07-27

How high is your ceiling? Thanks in advance

alchemyandthunder (author)2015-07-07

Maybe you aren't concerned, but for other readers... The rigging hardware would be more structurally sound if you use thimbles with your wire rope as well as forged eye bolts. Of course, it is only as strong as the weakest link. Wire rope is super strong, but if you bend it around an eye bolt and exceed the specified bend radius, you weaken it.

safety is always a concern and appreciated. it was put through a good amount of testing and emerged unscathed. guess it depends on how much weight the bed is subject to

Yes. Some mattresses are excessively heavy. I have a queen size "hybrid" mattress that is 18" thick and it is easily over 200 lbs by itself without sheets, boxspring/frame, bodies, etc. Just about any hardware on the market is going to likely greatly exceed the specified weight of the load at a dead hang and have a safety factor built-in to its specifications... But any... Rustling about... May need to be accounted for in the safety factor of the design of the structure. As well as seismic considerations. Looks like the ladder relieves a lot of the load in the newer design.

...just how many bodies are you hiding in that mattress?

AikkuL (author)2015-07-14

Cool bed! :)

In Finland no one tells you what kind of bed you can build but mainly we have these kind of loft beds, see 4 legs.

But when people build their of loft beds it can be anything... :)

I agree, as someone said:

this design can also be used as modified storage space.

Thank you for sharing. :)

mattop1176 (author)2015-07-13

Well, my photo didn't show up. This link will take you to an example of how to properly use wire rope clamps and what "saddling a dead horse looks like".

shales1 (author)mattop11762015-07-13

I liked this very funny example of what happens when bureaucrats write paragraphs, without any editorial assistance.. "

shales1 (author)shales12015-07-13

Some commas and periods would have made the paragraph much more "correct". Also, there is a spelling error. ("practice")

chabias (author)2015-07-12

It appears Sean was in the middle of the word 'gnarly'. Classic movie. Aloha, Mr. Hand.

mart33n33 (author)chabias2015-07-13

Where'd you get that jacket?!

ShannonL6 (author)2015-07-13

Thank you. We need more book shelves. (Also, nice FT@RH pic)

ALuna1997 (author)2015-07-13

OMG, I really want to make my old bed to a LOFT bed. It has always been my dream to have something like that in my room! I love it! And I love all the projects you create, please never stop the creativeness the world needs it. Thank you so very much.

brewtrue (author)2015-07-12

Please note that a loft bed built into the frame of a building is a violation of building code unless it is accessed from a code-compliant stair. A ladder cannot be a component of a legal egress path. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but this is illegal construction. A bunk bed is no safer, but since it falls under CPSA regulation, it is not a building issue. Also, a lack of side rails is really dangerous if you roll around in your sleep.

PhillipP2 (author)brewtrue2015-07-13

Really? Why does anyone care if its legal? I have often adjusted my living space in wqaysa that violate code, but guess what, since no one else but me was on the deed, I didn't ask anyone else if it was ok. I don't care either. My House, My kingdom, my way. I only once ran into an inspector who tried to railroads his way into my life and it wasn't a pleasant end for him. Not only did I win, but the city was forced to rewrite their code. Don't mess with the rights of People and their private property.

ToolboxGuy (author)PhillipP22015-07-13

It's up to you whether you follow codes or not, but should you ever want to sell your house, you could not only be in violation, but also financially responsible for any other events down the road - including fires and structural failures, long after you sell the house.

I had that happen with an "illegal" septic system on a property I had purchased. It was too close to the well, too small for the # of bedrooms in house, and the dry well was put in place without permits. I had to have a triple tank solution installed, with aeration pumps, as there was zero room for a leach field. $15,000 later, not only the person who sold me the house, but the one who sold it to him 6 months before, had to shell out the $15,000 for the repairs. Luckily, none of my neighbors had their wells contaminated from it, otherwise they'd have to pay for every contaminated well to be redrilled elsewhere on the neighbors' properties. They did have to pay for all of the neighbors' water tests because of this.

Housing codes are for the safety of you and your neighbors.

Schlag96 (author)ToolboxGuy2015-07-13

Actually, the home sale contract has a little box to check that indicates house items may not be up to code, and that the house is sold as is with any code discrepancies the responsibility of the buyer. this is why you have a home inspected, and then negotiate based upon the findings.

PhillipP2 (author)ToolboxGuy2015-07-13

You had a very different situation, I agree that if a seller sells a home with problems hidden to the buyer but known to the seller that the seller is responsible, Also your case involved potential problems to neighbors. I am totally against any code or law that tries to protect me from myself. This bed shows no more dangers than a free standing bunk bed and no code should be enforced or written to prevent it and even if there were dangers, the bed is fully visible so any buyer should do his due diligence to consider the risks before purchasing it. Every product has liabilities and buyers should be made aware of risks that manufactures know about but not obvious to consumers, but the the product should not be restricted because of the risk. While even seat belts are smart to have and use, I think their use is up to the individual as we should not police personal stupidity. This bed does have some risks, but I support his freedom to evaluate them on his own. The reason this article caught my eye was that I made a few of these for my own kids and for some friends. They are actually safer than a free standing bed and I hate laws and codes that get in the way of personal freedoms. Rather than point out this author's potential leagal problems, why not point out to the law makers their stupidity.

brewtrue (author)PhillipP22015-07-13

Just make sure your insurance agent never finds out. Illegal construction is one of the easiest ways to have a claim rejected.

skylossobaka (author)brewtrue2015-07-13

What would you suggest as the shortest line between project as described and a code compliant construction?

brewtrue (author)skylossobaka2015-07-13

I would think the easiest way to code compliance is to make it fully freestanding furniture rather than partly freestanding. If it is self-supporting and not connected to the structure of the building, it should* be considered furniture which is not under the jurisdiction of the local inspector. This isn't too big an imposition on the two back corners (drop posts connected into the corners of the loft framing), and with a little modification, the ladder could be made structural. I would suggest a wider ladder with the sides integrating a vertical support tied at the base and well connected to the platform. Any cross-bracing will make it that much stiffer. * Check your local codes. Inspectors are people, and they have different opinions.

wolfkitty (author)2015-07-13

Yes, info on the indoor garden please :-)

My loft is a freestanding 'bunk' style with a desk beneath. Living in a small room has really made me appreciate the extra space provided; now I hope my hips will hold out for a few more years of climbing ladders to get to sleep!

mattop1176 (author)2015-07-13

"Never Saddle A Dead Horse"

This is a nice idea for a bed, but from a rigging perspective, you need to change some things on your wire rope for your piece of mind and for others who build a similar bed.

Never Saddle A Dead Horse is a rigger's saying refers to the wire rope clamp. The "saddle" side should never be on the dead end of the rope. Also, always use three, and follow the previous commenter who suggested using a thimble. When you're rigging like this, build for 7-times your expected static load. You don't want to skimp here.

The graphic below shows the NSADH saying.

azwebco (author)2015-07-12

I built a pair of these two years ago to make the grandsons room more useful. I added built in bookcases and desks for storage and projects but it cost me a lot more than $50. Probably about $300 in materials at least if I remember correctly and it could have been as much as $500, I would have to go back and look at the drawings.

I also started with suspension chains in the corners but opted for moving the the ladders to the "floating corner" in the end. I'm 6'5" 260 and have been on one of these with both kids and their dad without any hint of failure but my frame is 2x3"'s encased in 2x6" and I used 5.5" lag bolts to mount the bed to the studs.

I used a sheet of melamine for the beds and the remaining pieces were the deska and the long shelf over the desk. The book cases were most of the expense, the face frames probably cost more than the carcasses.

jp2012 (author)2015-07-12

totally awesome, way to go Hamilton. Me and Mick are gonna jam with the Stones.

venustus (author)2015-07-12

I love the moonshine bottle =)

JamesS65 (author)2015-07-12

Yup that's Spicoli! Great movie. Kudos for design, this is practical and atractive.

mlaiuppa. (author)2015-07-12

Fast Times at Ridgemont High? (BTW filmed at my local high school, Clairemont High.)

KyleA4 (author)2015-07-12

This is such a great idea! Especially for those of us with smaller apartments that do not have the commodity of space!

signalsoldier (author)2015-07-12

This design can also be used as modified storage space. Thanks for sharing

drosenkranz made it! (author)2015-07-07

I made a similar bed last month

drosenkranz (author)drosenkranz2015-07-07

I like the ladder book storage idea. the cable on the floating corner was my first idea when I built mine but I didn't feel like clamping and measuring then finding out I made it a hare to long or short so I used threaded gas pipe and 2 threaded handrail end caps and covered it with PVC. I really like the simplicity of your design but if you take a closer look you can see the craftsmanship that you put into it. awesome job!

mart33n33 (author)drosenkranz2015-07-08

thanks! that's a good idea too

mart33n33 (author)drosenkranz2015-07-08

ahoy! nice use of pvc and color..

NathanSellers (author)2015-07-08

cool idea. I like the ladder for support and bookshelf.

Jobar007 (author)2015-07-07

This is pretty cool. In college, I did the opposite of what you are doing. I put my bed on the bottom and my desk on top of the loft I built. I then used black sheets to make a "cave" that I slept in and my desk was up high where there was more light (I didn't want to string lights to my desk below the loft). It also made the loft lower which felt safer for others using my desk. Really neat idea and thanks for the plans.

One question though, are the measurements for the supporting frame members to an edge or to center? It appears to be to edge, but I just wanted to make sure.

mart33n33 (author)Jobar0072015-07-07

Yup. And cool design to have the inverse. Just attached the CAD files too if you want to play with those. Thanks!

About This Instructable




Bio: Seafood is my specialty but my love of food justice, self-reliance and productivity knows no bounds. I grow food under my bed.
More by mart33n33:36 Cool Indoor Garden Ideas to Grow FoodBoquerones: Vinegar and Oil-Cured AnchoviesGrow Light and Irrigation Hood - 54W, 3300 Lumens, $18
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