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Yesterday, we began construction of the boys’ surprise room redo. When Ansley turned 4 and got a big girl room, we literally locked her out of her room for a month while we redid everything. We installed a simple hook and eye lock way up high so she couldn’t reach. That was almost 5 years ago for her now, so I asked her the other day if she remembered it. She said she did and has memories of peeking through the key hole! I think making room changes a surprise is way more fun! I mean, if they see you painting the walls, then a week later hanging new curtains, then later adding a fun new rug…the changes are so gradual that when it’s all said and done, it’s not even exciting.

The goal is to have everything complete by their 5th birthday, which is October 1st. 6 full weeks is actually a lot of time, and we may be done way before then. If so, we’ll just go ahead and reveal the room.

Room details. The boys’ mattresses have been on the floor, encased in a wooden frame David built, since they got out a cribs. But they never really used them. 95% of the time, both Wyatt and Finn sleep with us. That’s one tiny reason we are doing such fun beds this go round…to encourage them to sleep in their own rooms at least a few nights a week!  To maximize space in the room we decided to go with loft beds, which, as opposed to bunk beds, they can have a desk/toy storage/little couch underneath. The beds take up literally no space and the entire floor is left for playing. Plus, doesn’t everyone want the top bunk anyway?? Two top bunks for the win!

The materials for two beds so far (assuming you have your own power tools and nail/screws):

  • wood for beds and ladders – you will need 2x8s and 2x4s – $110)
  • small piece of 4×4 – ?
  • plywood – two 3/4 inch pieces – $50
  • 8′ of thick “high test” chain – $26.00
  • 4 big S hooks - $5.00
  • 4 heavy duty eye screws  – $4.00
  • lag screws and washers - ?

*We actually used leftover, treated, decking wood that we had from when we built our deck. No need to buy things when you have something that will work. The wood looks all dirty and gross b/c it’s been sitting in our backyard, fyi.

Here is the basic design. A simple floating platform secured to the wall on two sides and the free corner hanging from chain. We have 12 foot ceilings which makes this design perfect for us. There is actually enough space underneath for me to walk under without bending over at all. This will work on a normal height ceiling, you’ll just have more of a cozy nook underneath. I was inspired by all the bazillions of loft bed designs on Pinterest.

You’re gonna have to get good with a stud finder on this little project folks. First, you need to figure out which way the joists are running in your ceiling. After that, figure out where the closest joist is to a twin mattress size and add a few inches all around. We added six. It’s hard to word this. Measure from where the head of the new bed is going to be to the closest joist to where you want the length of the bed. Wherever that joist falls will be the length of the bed. Ours is 4′ x 7′. On the left, the chain is attached via “S hook” to a large eye screw which is screwed into the joist. You simply cannot just screw into the drywall, it will never hold this structure up! I’m skipping some steps here, but later on when the frame is built you will attach the opposite end of the chain to another “S hook” and to another eye screw into the bed. It’s nearly impossible to to get the exact measurement on the length of chain you’ll need. I had them cut two 4′ pieces, but as you can see I was a little off and will have to take it back to get three links cut off. No biggie.

The construction of the platform is so very simple! You need four 2×8 boards for the sides, and three 2×4 boards underneath for support. Once you have your length and width figured, it’s time to frame the platform. Cut one long side and a short side. You’ll need to attach the long board to the long wall first, temporarily, with framing nails, then do the same with the short board at the head of the bed. Next, add the boards that are not attached to any wall. Get a helper to hold the other sides while you nail those up. So now you have a floating outline of a bed! Be careful here because it could all come crashing down. Once the perimeter boards are attached, level everything and add a temporary support leg at the outside corner to hold the structure up until you have the chain attached.

Here’s a few iphone photos I snapped while David was building.

Now, measure across underneath and make three cuts from the 2x4s. Secure them evenly at the top edge of the floating frame (like in the above photo). You need a little extra support for the corner that will hang from the ceiling. David used a chunk of 4×4. This also gives you a nice place to attach the eye screw. After attaching the 4x4s, measure the top of the bed again and cut that from the plywood and nail it down. To make it extra extra safe, go back with a few heavy duty lag screws and screw the boards that are attached to the wall into the studs. Secure them washers. This step is mandatory. 

Here is what our corners look like.  You COULD have used a miter saw to make the corners come together seamlessly, which always looks nicer. We are painting this whole thing, so we didn’t really care.

That is seriously it! Just attach the chains now, and you’re done. Ladies, I just know your man can build this for you. It’s too easy!  Wait, that was totally sexist. Ladies! YOU can build this! He completed this whole project on Sunday, in about 4 hours, although he is a talented, ex-pro carpenter!

Those two big square things in the photo below are their old beds, in case you were wondering. And we only have one mattress now because our cat peed on the other one (grrrr…anyone want a cat?). Now to the super duper fun part! Planning colors for the walls/beds/curtains/everything else. I’m going to try and diy most things in this room 1) to save money, 2) b/c handmade stuff is more way better anyway, and 3) b/c I have a serious disease called icouldmakethat. It’s rough, look it up.

Are you wondering how my children will actually climb up there to sleep???!! We’ll have two ladders! He built one ladder already (see it laying there in the corner). Also, we’ll build a simple rail for the sides and something crazy fun to go between the beds. Such as…monkey bars, a hammock, a big playground net, etc. I love the idea of a net going between, then they would be totally safe if they fell off! I’m big on having fun stuff like that in kids rooms. Ansley’s room has a swing in it, and I’m telling you…it’s the most used toy in our whole entire house. She got that when we did her surprise room when she turned 4!

  • mary dougherty - i love it! that looks like it will be a dream room for any kid, but especially your boys. ps I suffer from icouldmakethat as well.ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Love the idea of keeping it a surprise! Would love to see a post with pics from Ansley’s room too!ReplyCancel

  • April - These are great. Your such a great, fun mom. Your kids are so lucky. Monkey bars lol they would probably climb across the top to each others beds using it as a bridge. You could do army netting.ReplyCancel

  • Kaylan - Do a post where you share Ansley’s room too and what you did for hers!ReplyCancel

  • Ady - This is so great! Im looking to suspend my bed right now and im trying to find the best way to go about it. Do you think this set up would be safe in a queen size for two people?? Considering how heavy my memory foam bed is im assuming I should just give up on the idea bed I reallllly want this!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - Do you mean leftover, untreated wood from your deck project?ReplyCancel

    • manda - I’m not positive but I think the wood we used was treated. We weren’t too worried about chemicals because we primed, painted, and sealed everything. :)ReplyCancel

  • Amber - Nice work I absolutely LOVE it! Such a fun and efficient sleeping space! Reminds me of a little indoor treehouse hide-out.

    I am right in the middle (literally haha) of a queen-size version of this project. The next step is hanging the last unsupported corner from the ceiling – a bit nerve-wracking considering my 1940-era ceiling! Decided a google search to reassure myself before I tackle it, thanks for your inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - I’d like to build this for my sister because she’s moving upstairs, and is getting the small room. She has a full bed, and really there isn’t enough room for her on the floor. Would this support a full-grown person? She’s on the small side, but still adult-size. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Alex - It looks lovely and the choice of having the oldish wood feeling gives a wonderful retro feeling.
    I was wondering how is fixed to the wall on the 2 sides and how stable it is.

    I was looking into that for a double bed version in my mini apartment :)

    thanks for sharing and
    thanks in advance for the answerReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Not offence but is’t this a bit dangerous? They could literally fall out of there beds.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Please ignore my previous comment. I just saw (from a later blog post) that you used wood to stop this. xReplyCancel

  • Al - I would never toenail the corners of a bed. Not safe. Should be at least screwed, bolted would be better and safer.
    This is a hack job.ReplyCancel

    • manda - Actually, everything is screwed and bolted into the studs very well. The beds are hung from ceiling joists. If you read the post it says…”To make it extra extra safe, go back with a few heavy duty lag screws and screw the boards that are attached to the wall into the studs. Secure them washers.”ReplyCancel

  • Amy - I am going to beg my husband to do this asap. Thank you so much for posting this. I have looked everywhere for something unique and easy like this, and found it…You’re awesome!ReplyCancel

    • manda - Yay! Awesome! It’s my favorite room in our house. :)ReplyCancel

  • How To Build Your Dream Bed With No Effort And Little Money - […] would love it! If you want something similar for their room (we know they want it), here you have a tutorial on how to build a loft bed.Read it carefully and follow all those steps, it`s […]ReplyCancel

  • How To Build Your Dream Bed With No Effort And Little Money | Steal Mag - […] would love it! If you want something similar for their room (we know they want it), here you have a tutorial on how to build a loft bed.Read it carefully and follow all those steps, it`s […]ReplyCancel

  • Bill - Nice wirkReplyCancel

  • 25 DIY Projects for Small Bedrooms | - […] for a small kids’ room — DIY loft beds by Manda Townsend. 7. The Bumper Crop fits three boys in one room with clever bunk beds. […]ReplyCancel

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