Small Space Solution: Built-In Bunk Beds For Kids’ Rooms
When space is tight and siblings are sharing a room, built-in bunk beds can be space-saving superheroes. Creating a sleeping nook for each of your children offers the privacy and breathing room that can keep sharing civilized. As our cities become denser and our living spaces become necessarily more small and environmentally friendly, we’ll be looking at small-space concepts like these more and more.
For the most part, creating a built-in bunk bed will require hiring a carpenter or calling in a particularly handy family member, but, done right, the results will be a smart long-term investment. To give projects like this staying power, focus on creating a simple structure and then add less-expensive, less-permanent decorative touches that can be changed as the kids age out of them.
In her family’s thoroughly charming “Tiny House” outside Portland, Oregon, interior designer Jessica Helgerson cleverly transformed less than four feet in depth into bunk beds and a closet in one. The efficient unit is finished in the same white-painted panelling as the bedroom for an aesthetic that’ll be easy to live with for years. The wooden rail and ladder, and brass cabinet pull, add warmth and distinction.
This mod plywood bunk is sleek and fun, the perfect nest for two youngsters on a tight bedroom footprint. Both beds have a little nook at one end, granting kids a bit of privacy — or a place to hide during games. There’s a storage drawer underneath the lower bed, and if there isn’t storage in the stairs, there should be!
Built-ins are such a natural way to max out space in cramped bedrooms and attic spaces, especially where architectural quirks keep freestanding furniture from fitting in. Designer Lauren Liess tucked this bunk (left) into a tight bedroom corner in her lakehouse in Fredericksburg, Virginia, adding storage drawers for each of her sons below.
In this tiny Catskills, New York, guest house (right), designer-builders Tara Mangini and Percy Bright, of Jersey Ice Cream Co., wedged a bunk into the corner of the cottage’s one bedroom, creating privacy with a macramé-style curtain.
Can’t spend the night on a yacht? This nautical-style bunk will have kids dreaming of life at sea. The lines are crisp and tailored, and the metals are bright and gleaming. While it does read as vaguely masculine, the look would work for boys and girls. Try it in homes that are preppy and polished as opposed to bohemian.
Designer Kristen Panitch defined this Los Angeles bedroom shared by Charlie, 8, and Henry, 10, with a built-in bunk finished in an easy-to-live-with faded forest green. Both bunks have loads of headroom and their own lighting, so the brothers feel like they have their own spaces within the shared room. And as with all bunks, stacking the beds means more floor space for playing — here’s it’s on a cushy ticking-striped rug.
Outside-the-box thinking on the part of Sullivan Building & Design Group saw this room divided into two separate bed nooks, without resorting to creating two totally separate rooms. If kids need more division or separate space than just bunks, this is a creative direction to take. Bookshelves and lighting let each cubby feel like a really distinct space.
It’s always more of a commitment to go with a seriously child-friendly design, but what you don’t get in longevity, you will get in cute factor. Designs like these built-ins — shaped like a house and a castle — will make kids feel like their rooms are havens designed just for their enjoyment.
Style tip: Papering a feature wall in a kids’ room gives the most bang for your buck, and when, in 5, 10 or 15 years, you want to redo it, you won’t have a whole room to contend with.
Turning one bed 45 degrees is a simple manoeuvre with smart results. It lets each bunk say, “I am not a carbon copy of the bed above/below me,” which can be especially effective in a shared room. Again, the space is delineated by a wallpapered feature wall.
Sloping rooflines offer the perfect excuse to build in cozy little sleeping cubbies — and put too-low dead space to work for you. A wall constructed between these bunks gives kids a real feeling of privacy, but curtains and other more temporary dividers can be just as successful. While she only has two children, Jennifer Webster added a third bed in her Long Island, New York, summer home (right) to house visiting relatives and guests.