Build a College Loft Bed with a desk and more...

Way More Than A Bed On Stilts is written for the person or family who is living in a crowded living space. It shows them more options to cope with their pressing needs, through creative and practical furnishings. If a strategy of life improvement includes basic needs, plus education, organization and discipline, we must accommodate those continually. Of course we need a bed, but we also need to store our clothes in a ready to wear condition. Yes, we need education, but we also need a place to study and an organized way to store and access our study materials.

If we lack a clothes closet, or bureau, or a desk, organized storage, or the space for it, we handicap ourselves! Way More Than A Bed On Stilts can help people overcome
these types of limitations.

This book contains a 21st century loft bed design. When built and used as designed, it is safe; it exceeds all applicable safety standards. Please read those standards and evaluate for yourself. This loft bed design is very durable. It won’t become shaky in a year or two. The frame should serve for many years. It can be disassembled and reassembled repeatedly to accommodate moving.

This loft bed system is incredibly useful: it features multiple options for built in desks, shelving, drawers and containers. It accommodates clothes storage, books, files, supplies, games and lighting. The design is modular; the accessory options fit together in several combinations. On top of all this, more than one may fit in a room! This system is designed for most of the electronic accoutrements of modern life. This is the 21st century.

Way More Than A Bed On Stilts is a do-it-yourself project. If you are at all handy, you can build this, while saving money. The sample configuration loft bed with a desk, bureau, and closet rod cost about the same as a comparable size bureau alone (excluding the mattress of course). This is do-able for many people. Just follow the instructions and choose wisely. You can do it!

Table of Contents

Introduction and front matter

  1. Building the basic bed frame

  2. Let’s cut some wood!

  3. Major sub-assembly

  4. Surface finish

  5. On-site assembly

  6. Bed side table accessory

  7. The executive desk option

  8. The transverse desk

  9. Cable up!

  10. Shelf storage system

  11. Drawers and more

  12. Clothes hanging I, II, and III

  13. Build it as a bunk bed

  14. More resources



The “way more” concept is essentially getting more for your money and efforts. In its highest form, it goes well beyond bargain hunting and prioritization. It requires thinking things through and evaluating the contribution of every aspect toward larger goals. Frugality is recognized as a virtue. Doing it your self is a time honored tactic. I assert that a better result can often be achieved while consuming fewer resources. I know this is a radical departure from mainstream consumerism and advertising today, (think shiny, brittle plastic)! Some have called this “poor man’s wisdom”. I call it timely.

So, what is a loft bed, and who would want one? A loft bed is a specialized form of bed, which has an elevated sleeping platform. This makes room for another function beneath it. A loft bed effectively increases the available space. Young adults and college students have historically used these the most. The concept is also adaptive to families with teen-agers, and economically challenged households. A well built loft bed system will serve more people in smaller rooms and buildings, for increased utility. That means getting more for your housing dollar.

The history of loft beds, in dormitories, goes back several decades. Traditionally, dorm rooms were small, shared, and had very little storage. (Many rented houses and apartments share this problem). Most of the earliest loft beds were student built and of an experimental nature. Casual research illustrates the development and refinement of the concept from crude, partial, and inadequate, to some minimum standards of structure and use.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission, and the American Society of Testing and Materials, have developed some manufacturer’s standards, which apply to loft beds. These regulate the form and spacing of railings, posts, ladders, etc., to ensure safety, by avoiding the worst falling, entrapment and choking hazards. I believe this loft bed design meets or exceeds all those requirements. The CPSC and ASTM web-sites and references are included in the rear appendix. Please do yourself a favor, and read those standards for yourself. In addition; many colleges have developed their own standards for loft beds used within their property. This design should meet or exceed those as well. Other countries may have developed their own standards. If by some chance this is a stricter safety standard; I definitely recommend you revise to the stricter standard.

I observed many loft beds over the years and concluded that most were wobbly beds on stilts. As a builder, I knew the requirements to prevent a structure from becoming wobbly and unsafe. My biggest bone to pick with most on-line plans is also true of most manufactured loft beds. Their structure is minimal, and they become shaky and unsafe with-in a year or so. There is no sway bracing to be found. They are planned to ship in small packages but not to be sturdy. This is unacceptable! Basic geometry points out why this happens. The intertwined concepts of the lever and the triangular brace are sufficient to explain this. The vertical and horizontal structural elements require the diagonal brace to maintain their form and rigidity over time and repeated stressing. Without the brace, leverage works the joint loose. It only gets worse, and more shaky, with more time. (Just think of all those leaning barns and garages you have seen with inadequate bracing).

This loft bed design does have sufficient bracing to maintain its form. This design has more in common with an open front cabinet than it does with those platforms on stilts. Each of the sides is braced to ensure stability. Like a cabinet, the sides need not be massively heavy. The inherent bracing prevents deflection. Although the loft bed can be assembled and disassembled repeatedly, it becomes sturdy with all of its braces and fasteners secured.
The basic loft bed structure, (chapters 1-5), consists of two end frame sub-assemblies, two mattress rail sub-assemblies, and a spreader rail with diagonal braces. A headboard and safety rails complete the package. These sub-assemblies are very strong! The two end frames are permanently assembled, in such a way, that they will remain square for a lifetime. When the loft bed is assembled on-site, the entire back, and half of the front, are solidly braced, plumb, and square. The braces are large enough, and the glue surface area is large enough, to ensure durable stability. The form follows the function!

My safety rails are not cobbled on after the fact either; they are incorporated from the beginning. They exceed the safety standards. They are strong! They are taller than the minimum requirement, and they protect the user on all four sides. No one should fall from normal use!
The lumber of choice is construction grade soft woods, like spruce, pine, and fir. These must be selected for the best appearance, naturally. Since these lumber species and grades are ok for building houses, barns, and stores, they are also strong enough for a small structure like this loft bed! Valuable hardwoods are not used in this design. Should the builder cut a board too short, or otherwise spoil it, so that it is completely unusable; they are only out $5 - $10, for their mistake, not $75. - $100!

The accessories that work with the loft bed are another aspect to consider. As you study the field of competing loft bed designs, you can conclude what the usual features and accessories are. It might have a small desk, with a small book shelf, for an option, or an open space for your futon or beanbag. I think my design goes a lot farther. It is actually a loft bed system, with many accessory options. This do-it-your-self book has multiple desk, shelf, and storage options for clothes, books, files, CDs, etc. For many people the storage accessories alone will justify purchasing this book. Where else do you find all this information, (and incorporated design), in one place? The bed side table option is way cool and useful. I haven’t seen that anywhere else.
What I offer here is not just more and better though, I explain how to build it! The details are simplified, and the process is broken down for the handy person and beginning woodworker. Most people of average aptitude and coordination can build my loft bed system. The detailed explanations with drawings and photographs walk you through all phases of construction. You don’t have to settle for a lesser bed, that doesn’t expand your space very much, and is unsafe to boot! I think this is the best.

This loft bed is designed with young adults in mind: their size and their needs. This is not planned for small children. I do not recommend loft beds for small children. In fact, the government regulations clearly state that no child under age six should be allowed on an upper bunk of any kind! They define an upper bunk as thirty inches or more above the floor. Although one of the chapter options is making bunk beds, they are two distinctly different designs, of different proportions. There is a child size, and an adult size. Please read, understand, and use good judgment.

The builder and the user must assume all risks associated with all phases of the construction and use of this do-it-yourself loft bed. Although the author has endeavored to write thorough and safe instructions, the author cannot supervise on-site. Furthermore, as the instructions progress beyond the basic structure, less is said about safety, in general. It is still important! I only assume that you have read it many times to get that far. I hope that you establish safe work habits from the beginning and maintain them.

Now you are beginning what may be your first DIY project, or at least the biggest to date. Good luck to you! The results are worth the effort. I think you have chosen the best because of the safety, durability, and way-cool accessories!


What now?
Buy the book
or watch our cool video that
shows you just how easy it is!



Copyright 2010 Erik Johanson - Way More Build It Yourself Books :: All Rights Reserved :: Created by Exodus Design Studios