I recently finished making offset built-in bunk beds for Lucy and Jack. The room they share isn't huge, so I was hoping to pack as much storage into the bunk beds as possible. One of my goals was to eliminate the need for dressers so that they could have more space to play.
Offset Bunk Beds Overview
The "bottom bunk" is on the left side. It has three sections that can hold two drawers each.
Next to the bottom bunk is a taller structure that:
- Packs a LOT of storage (six more drawers! The bottom two are 28" deep, and the others are 24" deep)
- Provides some support for the "top bunk" above
On the other side of the "dresser" is empty storage space that will be hidden with a shaker style door.
What Supplies Do I need to Make Offset Built-in Bunk Beds?
- 2x4s for the frame of the beds (this frame was built from 19 of them!)
- 1x3 for the bottom trim + vertical trim between the drawers
- 1x6 for the top bunk trim
- 3/4" mdf sheets for the bed base
- 3/4" plywood for the drawers and drawer faces
- 1/4" plywood or hardboard for the drawer bottoms
- 1/2" plywood to enclose the center dresser
- 2x2 for guard rails and ladder (I trimmed down some repurposed oak on my bandsaw)
- 24" or 28" Drawer Slides
- Drawer knobs
- 2-1/2" Pocket Hole Screws (for the frame)
- 1-1/4" Pocket Hole Screws (for the drawer boxes)
- Screws for attaching drawer fronts and frame pieces together
- Heavy Duty Spax screws for attaching top bunk to the wall and guard rails/ladder to bed
- Euro Hinges for door
- Oil-Based Primer
- Matte Polyurethane
- The entire frame is constructed with 2x4 lumber, joined with pocket holes and screws.
- After putting them into place in the room, the separate pieces (bottom bunk, top bunk, center dresser) are joined to one another with screws
- The top bunk is supported by the tall "dresser" and is also secured to the wall with heavy duty Spax screws through the studs.
- I added trim to the frame with a nail gun and 16 gauge nails
- Guard rails and ladder are attached to the bed from inside the bed so that the screws aren't visible
How I Made Offset Built-In Bunk Beds
I started by building the frame for the bottom bunk. The standard size of a twin mattress is 38x75", so I made the frame just slightly larger (39x75").
Build two identical pieces for the frame of the bottom bunk.
These small 2x4 pieces serve two purposes. They act as supports, and they also divide the frame into three sections for drawers. The drawer slides are screwed directly into these small 2x4 supports.
After building the drawer boxes I moved the bed frame into the room. Remove the trim from the wall so the frame can be pushed directly against the wall.
Built-In Bunk Beds : Center Section
Next, I started building the frame of the tall, center dresser.
At this point I screwed drawer fronts onto the drawers of the bottom bunk (attached with screws from inside the drawer). I placed a scrap piece of 1x3 trim along the bottom to make sure the drawer fronts were installed at the correct height.
Built-In Bunk Beds : Top Bunk
Next, I built a frame for the top bunk.
Fix Top Bunk to Wall
Locate the studs in the wall where the top bunk will be.
I used these Spax powerlags to attach the top bunk to the wall through the studs.
I decided midway through this project to add a little "book nook" in the empty space behind the drawers of the dresser. I made a support from 2x4s to attach to the inside of the dresser.
The book nook is screwed onto the 2x4 support it rests on. (In case you're wondering about the scrap of plywood next to it . . . I put that there as a way to ensure the book nook would be flush with the plywood that I'd soon be attaching to the sides.)
I also added some small corner braces to keep it in place. (You can see one of them at the bottom of the book nook.)
I then attached 1/2" plywood to the sides of the dresser with screws from the back side. (I also ended up adding a few screws through the front.)
After that I added plywood underneath the top bunk.
Center Section Drawers
Next I started building drawers for the dresser. You can see that the drawer slides are attached directly to the 2x4 frame, as they were with the drawers in the bottom bunk.
Before screwing the drawer fronts on, I made sure all the pieces were firmly attached to each other with screws. (Tall dresser frame screwed to the bottom bunk frame as well as the top bunk frame.)
Prime, then paint!
Build a door to enclose the right storage area.
Begin adding trim to the bed. I used 1x6 pieces to trim the top bunk, and 1x3 trim for mostly everything else. Make sure the trim on the beds goes at least 3/4" above the 2x4 frame so that it will hide the 3/4" mdf sheet that will eventually be placed on top.
Fill any holes after nailing the trim to the frame.
Last, you'll need to make a few guard rails and a ladder. I screwed all the pieces together, but first drilled a 3/8" hole to hide the screws with a 3/8" dowel.
I attached the rails and the ladder to the bed with screws from the inside so that they're not visible.
Finished Built-In Bunk Bed
The beds are far from perfect (!), but they are solid and LOVED by Lucy and Jack, so I am happy. 🙂
For now this storage area hides a big bin of stuffed animals and a basket of dirty laundry. I'm thinking about adding a shelf along the back wall to place a bin of play-doh or legos.
Lucy and Jack both love the bunk bed's book nook.
All of their clothes fit in the bed's storage drawers! Goodwill is coming to collect their old dressers this week. 🙂