Introduction: Partially Freestanding Loft Bed Under $50

About: Seafood is my specialty but my love of food justice, self-reliance and productivity knows no bounds. I grow food under my bed.

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

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

  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

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

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

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

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

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!