Pia asked for three things for her birthday, a bunk bed, to go out to dinner somewhere nicer than McDonalds, and to have her face smashed into a smiley face cake. I’ll never forget birthday number six, that’s for sure. She asked for a bunkbed years ago, but I was terrified of her jumping off or worse, falling off the top. I was flipping through an Arch Digest magazine and saw an adorable bunk bed where Pia then shouted, “I want that one!” Obviously it was custom made and obviously it was gorgeous. So I drew up a version and called Papa!
Here is my mood board for all the elements I wanted to include since I couldn’t find one perfect bed. I took pieces from all of these photos but mainly the one Pia and I fell in love with (the green one).
My dad is not a contractor and I’m not a designer so we are just DIY’ing this bed the best we can, so if you love, please use this blog as inspiration and not as instruction! Let’s get started!
MATERIAL & TOOL LIST:
- MDF for Arches
- 2X4’s for framing
- 1X12 Bed Frame
- 1X3’s Trim
- 3/8″ plywood for mattress support
- 4X8 sheetrock for cubby holes and bottom bed ceiling
- 1″ pipe conduit for guard rails
- Conduit straps to secure rails
- ½” pipe conduit for curtain rod
- 1-Gallon paint
- 1-quart paint
- 2-Bottles of spray paint for guard rails
- Wood screws
- sheetrock corners
- Joint compound
- Wood filler
- Miter Saw
- Nail gun
Sarah Sherman made this really cute bunk bed that I was considering buying but could not bring myself to spend $2,799 on a bed that wasn’t even exactly what I wanted. So we made it and it cost us a total of $514!
We built the base of the bunk bed using the existing twin mattress measurements but added about an inch on each side.This way it wasn’t too snug and we will be able to make the bed. We also accounted for adding a 4″ niche wall at the head of the bed which you will see later.
We added the vertical posts to the outside of the frame and attached the 1×12 board to create that box for the mattress. Then it was time for the second bunk. I wanted both bunks to be completely even with room for us to get in and sit up straight on the bottom bunk. I didn’t want the top bunk to be too close to the ceiling either. We have 96″ ceilings, about average, so it felt right to split it evenly.
We added two additional vertical 2X4’s on each side of the front arch to provide for stand-off from the bed frame to allow for the curtain to hang straight and not interfere with the bed frame or arch. As well as adding additional structural support.We added the 1x12s around the top bunk to create the top bunk box. We then added plywood on the bottom of each bunk to give it more support.
The Niche Wall
The niche wall was a must for me because I truly wanted a bed side table for them, especially since the top bunk would not have access to one. I didn’t like the idea of adding a shelf because I didn’t want them bonking their heads on it. I loved the look and efficiency of the niche wall as it’s discrete, modern, and perfect for holding their water at night and any other miscellaneous things they bring in their beds. We drywalled it in to give it a very smooth finish.
The boys (my dad and matthew) were so scared to cut this arch because they know how much of a perfectionist I am. They didn’t want to mess it up so they measured, and did the little nail, string, and pencil trick to draw a perfect arch. We started with the side of the bed’s arch first as it’s smaller. I wanted their to be an arch at the top but a square at the bottom to match the front of the bed.
We were able to use one MDF board for the side arch and it was indeed a very clean cut! Good job Daddy!
We were pondering the second arch cut as one post online instructed to essentially use two full MDF boards and create the large arch by cutting out half the arch and attaching in the middle. I thought, if the MDF board is wide enough to cover the width of the bed, why not cut the full seamless arch for the top and use the remaining MDF to make the straight sides? My dad decided to run with it and that saved us a whole MDF board which are expensive!
You can see the seem on the sides of the large arch here which made the top arch look and feel smoother.
This was difficult for me to choose a design because their closet door was just a few inches away from the bed. I didn’t want to build a ladder that would block the entrance but I also didn’t want it to be too thin that it was hard to get up. Luckily my architect uncle was visiting us and came up with this specific cut on the ladder. This way it looked effortless as it leans against the bunk bed but it’s actually very secure. We decided to use 2×4’s for the steps instead of bars because I figured an adult will have a hard time climbing that to make the bed every morning.. aka me.
So this little feature was the game changer for me in allowing Pia to finally have her bunkbed. In the inspo picture, they had these rose gold bars across the top making it much harder for you to jump and nearly impossibly for you to fall out and the cherry on top… they weren’t ugly! So we ended up getting two galvanized pipes 1″ in diameter and secured them in using these metal fittings. We played with the positioning a little bit but ended putting them closer to the bed for added security. We ended up painting them with spray paint that I had leftover for a project and it worked perfectly. For the curtain rod, we cut out a hole in a small piece of 2×4 to nail to the bed frame. The hole was big enough to fit 1/2″ diameter pipe so that it could be easily removable.
We then filled in all the screw holes, sanded, and painted the bed. I went with a scuff defense paint from Behr in Smoke Bush Rose, because kids are rough. We did two coats.
I did not want to add additional work to my dad’s plate, so instead of wiring electrical into the beds for the reading lights, I just ordered some sconces off amazon and added these puck lights inside. I loved these puck lights because I could add a timer for how long it will stay on. So when the girls go to sleep, I’ll let them read books, play with their stuffed animals, etc for 10 or 30 minutes but when the light goes off, it’s night night time.
I love quality bedding because it just lasts longer and feels better. Pia once told us that she loves coming into our bed because our sheets feel better. So we splurge and get them adorable sheets from pottery barn and parachute for the duvet covers. The little cloud pillow is adorable and the leather heart pillow is an oldie from Gathre.
Took me three tries but found the perfect color of pink for their velvet curtains.
We made some improvements and redesigned the whole room so stayed tuned for a full room tour!
HUGE shoutout to my dad (aka Papa) for building this dream bed for his favorite granddaughters (and me). It couldn’t have come out more perfect and we are all so in love. Thank you to my mom, Matthew, Uncle Andy for all helping bring my vision to life!
P.S. Remember that other time we built a bed for Pia? Remember when we gave them a big girl room?
These bunk beds came out so nice!!! You should be an interior decorator and designer! 🙌🏽🥰 Also love the color scheme you chose!!! Your amazing!💗
Aww thanks so much Evelyne! I have zero schooling but I do have a deep obsession with all things interior design haha. I’m so happy you loved it as much as we did!