Intro: Compact, Modular Living Loft
I'm a big fan of design and I also like to conserve everything I can from materials to time to space. One day, while looking around online, I was inspired by an all-in-one piece of furniture that someone had created and decided that I would like to design and build my own compact, all-in-one loft bed for a project that all seniors at my school must complete for graduation. I'm going to college soon and I knew that it would be useful there, but I also designed it for people that live in large, urban cities where real estate is costly and sometimes you have to settle for a small space. I believe that you can fit a lot of function into a small space and this is my attempt at that.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Table Saw or Circular Saw
- 10 x 3/4"x4'x8' sheets of plywood I recommend buying quality wood that is faced on both sides because I used some that was only faced on one side and it caused me a lot of problems with bowing and chipping
- 3 x 1"x6"x8' boards
- 7 x 1"x8"x4' boards
- 1 x 3/8"x4'x8' sheet of plywood
- #6 1-1/4" construction screws
- #8 1-1/2" stainless steel screws (optional) I used these for any screws that showed on the outside just for looks because the construction screws I had were a brass color
- 14 frameless cabinet hinges
- 15 x 5/16" dowels
- 5 x 16" standard drawer slide sets
- 1 x 16" ball bearing drawer slide set
- 1 x 12" piano hinge
- 2 x 3/4"x48" black pipe
- 1 x 3/4"x24" black pipe
- 2 x3/4"x6" black pipe
- 2 x 3/4" metal elbow joints for the black pipe
- 6 x 3/4" metal flange for the black pipe
- 2 x 2" pivoting casters
- 2 x 2" fixed casters
- 8 x 1/4"x1-1/2" machine screws
- 8 x 1/4"x1-1/4" machine screws
- 16 x #10 3/4" wood screws
Step 2: Bed Frame
Using the 1x6" boards, cut 2 pieces at 93" and 2 at 39". Assemble these 4 pieces so that the 39" lengths are inside of the 93" lengths. Then rip 2 pieces of 3/4" plywood to 1" wide at a length of 91-1/2" and 2 at a length of 37-1/2". These pieces will be attached to the inside of the bed frame at the bottom to hold the slats you will cut next. Cut each of the 1x8" boards to 38-15/16" and rest them on the rails of the bed frame.
Step 3: Closet Unit
Cut two 39-3/4"x60-1/2" pieces from 3/4" plywood. These are the sides of the closet. Then cut a 29-1/2"x60-1/2" piece. This is the back. Assemble the 3 walls with the back in between the sides. Next, you will cut the closet door. Its dimensions are 32-7/8"x59-5/8". The door is shorter than the walls to allow a 1/8" gap in between the top of the door and the bed frame and a 3/4" gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. Once the door is cut, you will need to router out 4 spots along the back side of the door for the hinges. Make them just as deep as you need to for the hinges to fit in snugly and make sure that you have one fairly close to the top, one close to the bottom and then evenly space out the other two in the middle of the door. After you have routed the hinge slots, screw the hinges into the door and then into the side of the closet. The last step for the structure of the closet is tying the bottom sides of the closet together to prevent them from moving away or towards each other. This is accomplished by taking the flat strip of metal, bending it on each end, and screwing it in to each side. The point of this piece is to make the closet square so the piece should be 29-1/2" long after the ends of the metal have been bent.
Now the rolling closet cart. First, cut two 15"x30" pieces of plywood. Second, screw the pipes together as the appear in the pictures, except leave only put one flange on each of the short pipes for now. Place the short pipes with the flange centered on the short length of the board and leave a gap of 1/2" between the end of the flange and the end of the board. Drill four holes through the board where the holes are in the flange. Take the 1-1/4" machine screws and nuts and secure the flange to the board. Repeat the alignment and drilling process for the top shelf and place the screws through the holes so that they are sticking out the bottom. Now you screw on the flange to the top of each of the short pipes, align them with the screws sticking out the bottom of the shelf and secure the pieces together with nuts. Lastly, flip the cart on its side and attach the casters so that the two pivoting wheels are on the same end and the two fixed ones are on the same end.
Step 4: Desk Unit
Start with the basic frame. You will need two sides that are 16-5/8"x60-1/2" and a back the same size as the back for the closet (29-1/2"x60-1/2"). Assemble these three pieces with the back in between the sides once again. Now you will need to cut five identical shelf pieces that are 15-7/8"x29-1/2". Screw in one shelf to the very top and one to the very bottom. One should be mounted so that the bottom of the board is 12-1/2" from the very top. Another should be mounted so that the top of it is 18" from the bottom of the last piece. The last one is mounted so that the top of it is 5-1/4" below the previous piece. Now the desk drawer. Start by cutting the frame of the drawer. This consists of two 16"x4-1/2" pieces and two 27"x4-1/2" pieces. The bottom of the drawer is cut from the 3/8" sheet. Its dimensions are 27-1/4"x14-3/4". To attach these five pieces together use either a router table or a 3/8" dado blade on your table saw and cut 1/8" deep strips 1/4" from the bottom of each of the side pieces of the drawer. To put it together make sure the 27-1/4" pieces are inside the 16" pieces, fit the bottom into the grooves that you cut, and screw it together. The desk top to the drawer is split in to two pieces. The first is a 3" strip the same width as the drawer. The second is about 12-7/8" long with the same width as the drawer. Mount the 3" strip to the very back edge and attach the 12" piano hinge to the center. Then attach the 12-7/8" piece to the hinge and fold it down to create a nice desk top. The last piece of the drawer is the face which is a 5"x30-7/8" piece that gets mounted on the center of the front of the drawer. Once the drawer is built attach the ball bearing slides and mount it in the space as seen in the photos. The last step is to cut doors for both above and below the desk. The height of the doors should be the exact measurement between shelf pieces and the width should be 13-3/8". Cut out a handle like I did or add hardware so that you can open and close them.
Step 5: Drawer Unit
Start out with the same side walls and back panel as the desk. Cut out two shelves identical to the ones cut for the desk as well. One gets mounted to the very top and the other should be mounted 10" from the top. Next, follow the same procedures for making drawers as you did for the desk drawer with different dimensions. The drawer frame is 6" tall, two of the pieces 16" long and two 27-7/8". The bottom is the same size. You will need five drawers so cut five sets of pieces. Attach the frame pieces and then cut the face of the drawer at 10"x31". Mount the face center on the front of the drawer so that the bottom of the face is flush with the bottom of the drawer. Attach the basic drawer rollers to each side of each drawer and mount the other part to the sides of the frame. Mount the bottom one first and then measure to the bottom of the low shelf and divide by 4 to determine what the distance from the first slide to the second is. When they have all been mounted, slide the drawers in.
Step 6: Tie It Together With Dowels
If you have made it to this step, you now have each of the four essential pieces built. Now it is time to put them all together to make the final product. Drill holes into each of the front corners of each of the upright pieces and corresponding holes into the bottom of the bed frame. Since the desk and drawer units do not extend all the way to the back of the bed frame, you will need to cut two 31"x60-1/2" pieces to support that corner. When all of your dowel holes are complete, stick a dowel into each hole and lower the bed frame down on top of the 3 units. The loft is designed to be placed in a corner of a room, so the dowels allow you to interchange units depending on which corner of the room you would like to place the loft or just to suit your own preferences. Add a mattress and a ladder and you have yourself an all-in-one loft bed that will save plenty of space in small living areas.