When your child's room isn't large enough for storage, study and play, a loft bed can help maximize floor space. A loft bed typically has a twin-size mattress resting on a platform elevated off the floor. It may have built-in storage, a play area or study area below. Since kids love quirky places to crawl inside or climb atop, a loft bed creates a miniature world providing untold hours of indoor fun. There are several ways to achieve this, some less expensive than others
First Step - Before adding a loft to your child's room, consider the following. Ceiling height should be higher than 8 feet to provide adequate head room above and storage-study-play area below. For safety, only children over age 5 should use a loft high off the floor.
Freestanding - Support a freestanding loft with a low height closet running the length of the platform. A combination of drawers and shelves placed at one end and cork board covered panel between two posts can support the other end. A counter underneath running along the length of the closet will double as study and work area.
Partial Wall - Build a partial wall with an overhead platform attached to the side walls. Support underneath with bookshelves. The nook below can double as a reading corner, playhouse, fort or secret hideaway. Add portholes in the wall to create a ship with a compartment below "deck".
Modified Bunk - Remove the bottom bunk bed and for stability, add a sheet of plywood to one side between headboard and footboard. Add freestanding desk, storage (drawers or cabinets) or seating underneath. Use painted or laminated plywood sides cut into different shapes to create a playhouse, castle or even a rocket ship. Partially enclose to create a puppet theater or use curtains to create the perfect hideaway.
Safety - This is the prime factor in building anything for children. The entire structure should be sturdy enough to accommodate several climbing children at once. Make sure mattress is secure and does not slide around. Strong, protective railings are a must as is a secure ladder at a comfortable angle for climbing. Adults should easily be able to reach children on the top.
Shared Space - Pairing with another twin-size bed underneath can add room for a sibling or guest. Create an L-shaped arrangement and still have room for storage on the supporting ends of the platform. If there is room, use a double size mattress above for added sleep space.
Getting to the Top - An attached ladder or built-in stairs make it easy to reach the loft but the fun for children is getting down using a pole or slide. Stairs and slides will take more floor space but use the area underneath for storage drawers, cabinets or shelves.
Tips & Warnings
- Surfaces under the platform should be smooth to keep hair from getting pulled.
- Plan bedding that is easy to make for an adult standing on a ladder or child sitting on the mattress.
- Use colorful solid or printed fitted sheet and pillows paired with a blanket or comforter that can be folded at the end of the bed.
- Remember heat rises - loft will be warmer than areas closer to the floor. Make sure ventilation is adequate to prevent children from overheating while sleeping or playing.
- No portion of the loft should be sitting on movable furniture that can shift causing the structure to collapse.
- Periodically examine all fasteners and tighten immediately if loose. Nothing should wobble.
- Photo Credit Better Homes and Gardens Kids Rooms, PDF Fine Cabinetry.com