So if you're like me and stuck with a small apartment space, have I got a project for you. My apartment is around 51sq.m or about 550sq.f, which was a lot when I was 19 and didn't own anything, but times have changed and I needed somewhere to store my pirate trunk, and milk crates of stuff that I should have thrown out long ago.
What to do?
I was in Ikea helping a friend buy some stuff for his new apartment when I saw the greatest invention since cheese and gravy hit french fries. I'm talking about the kids bunk bed of course, I had a plan formulated before my friend could say "I don't really think that's a good idea".
After a brief sketch on a post it note on the way home, I had devised a plan for my own elevated bed.
A quick safety reminder folks, power tools are dangerous, and you should probably wear some equipment that protects your eyeballs, and hands. Depending how much you get into it, possibly your junk too.
Enough talk! Let's build!
Step 1: The Masterplan
Ok so this isn't the sketch I did on the ride home from Ikea, I powered this one off at work, but it gives you an idea of what I was thinking.
The idea is that the legs protrude about 15-20cm (6"-8") over the portion that the box spring rests on so that it keeps the mattress from slipping off the frame. The sketch obviously only shows a portion of the bed, with the front legs removed for clarity. All for corners are done the same.
Let's go get some wood!
Step 2: Gather Materials
Ok so your exact configuration may vary, but here's what i used:
-16 x 5" x 1/4" SS Bolts (fine thread) / 32 washers / 16 hex nuts
-16 x 4" wood screws
-4 1/2" L brackets
-16 1/4" wood screws
-2"x6" lumber (depending on mattress size)
-2"x4" Lumber (depending on height of bed desired)
For this project I used something close to 6m (20') of 2"x6" and around 18m (60') of 2"x4" lumber. So you'll need a truck or maybe even use something like this..
When you're at your local lumber store ask the lumber guy if he minds making some cuts for you, they'll usually do this free of charge for a few cuts and charge something like 50 cents for every additional cut afterwards, I recommend it as if he messes it up you can just grab another piece of wood and he can try again. But these guys a re pro right? So no screw ups here!
Alternatively you can just raid a nearby construction site and try to make it home before the guard dog takes a bite out of your jeans. Running away from a dog while carrying a 10' long 2"x4" requires skill and guile. Good luck!
Step 3: Measure Twice, Cut Once
I have a double size mattress, so we're talking 137cm by 190.5cm (54" by 75"). Since my design accounts for the mattress to be placed directly on top the 2"x6" our lumber running the length of the bed will not be exactly 190.5cm (75"). Referring to the crudely sketched plans, my design tries to minimize deflection in the lumber, both by turning the 2"x6" on it's side as shown, and by reducing the longer member by 2cm (2") to fit inside the two 137cm(54") top and bottom sections.
Sounds confusing when I write it out, but look back at the diagram and you'll see what i mean.
A good idea would be to have a square to ensure your lumber is squared up, but I like the MacGyver school of thought, so i just used something that was reasonably square to help me out.
The first step here after trimming the lumber to size is to drill 2 holes, then use the 4" wood screws to join the sides. I worked on once corner fist, then the diagonally opposite side, then joined the two halves.
Step 4: Stand That Frame Up
After you've drilled and screwed your basic frame together stand it up, now it's not sure crucial that it's completely square, it'll get squared up soon enough on it's own. As long as you're close then you're golden.
Step 5: Adding the Legs
Since I was alone doing this project alone it was tough to hold the legs where I needed them and drill then insert the bolts, so i used one of the slats for under the at will be installed later under the box spring (which are exactly the same length as the bed is wide) to prop up one end of the 2"x4" legs.
I used an extra L-bracket to hold the leg in place to the frame while I drilled the holes. After drilling through the 2"x4" leg and the 2"x6" frame in two locations I inserted the bolts using washers on both sides, then hand tightened the hex nuts.
It's a good idea to leave the slat there propping up the side you've just completed as the frame is starting to get heavy. Do the same to the other side, then flip the frame over and mirror your work on the far side.
Step 6: Looking Good!
You should now have 4 legs on the frame, but our plan calls for 8 legs, the next set will be 90 degrees to the adjacent leg on each corner. So tip the frame upright.
It's pretty easy to install the next 4 legs, since the frame is standing on it's own, I used the L-bracket again to hold the leg at 90 to the adjacent leg, then drilled and inserted the bolts, same as before.
Step 7: Final Touches
With all 8 legs installed, it's time for the final touches. I used the L-brackets at about 15-30cm (6") from the bottom on each leg, this helps with keeping the spacing of each 90 degree leg cluster. Tighten up those bolts with a wrench.
Next I dilled and screwed in the slats for under the box spring.
The final step here is to install another 2"x4" on the floor between the legs to stop the legs from bowing in, which they will naturally do. You only need to do 3 sides, so pick where you want your entrance to under your frame to be and install the 2"x4" everywhere but there. (the picture here was taken with no lower leg bracing)
I haven't built a ladder for it, but one is definitly needed if you choose to build your bed this high, there is no way you'll be able to jump into bed unless you have a trampoline (which i considered, until i wondered what would happen if I ever came home tipsy and tried it, so the trampoline idea is scrapped...for now).
A mandatory step for beds higher than say 70cm (2') off the ground in anchoring. Luckily there was a solid door frame that I was able to anchor into, I used two hefty anchors to stop the sway of the bed.
Step 8: Final Thoughts
Really there can be any variation on this, whatever your needs are you can create a frame to suit your needs. Add coat hooks, throw your desk underneath, build it lower to the ground, possibly higher, but much higher than this and you're looking at some serious anchoring and shear bracing.
A consideration here is also how much you move at night. I'm not sure how many of you fall out of bed nightly, I haven't since I was 6, so guard rails aren't really necessary for me, but at this height it's not a bad idea. I like to live dangerously so I opted out of railings.
Did you know that bed frames are the number 3 cause of deaths in Canada? It's true, I looked it up, so use some common sense when building your own frame. Power tools are dangerous, as is falling our of bed, as is building unsafe structures. While this project was fairly easy, be safe.
This project was very rewarding, it's an adventure to go to bed every night!
I look forward to anyone else's frame that they built!