How to Design Bunk Beds

Bunk beds are one of the most efficient furniture designs for saving space.
Bunk beds provide more sleeping space in cabins and vacation homes.Bunk beds provide more sleeping space in cabins and vacation homes.
Many options exist for designs that blend sleeping space with extra storage, desks, bookcases and shelves. Back-to-back bunk beds provide multiple sleeping spaces for cabins and vacation homes. A bunk bed can be transformed into a cottage, a castle, pirate ship or anything else you can dream of for a themed, kid’s room. No matter what type of bunk bed you decide to design, the most important thing to remember is safety.

Step 1

Write down the basics such as layout, number of beds and building materials.

Brainstorm ideas for bunk bed designs and write them down. Think about the number of sleeping spaces needed and the type of building materials you want to use. For example, bunk beds can be constructed of lumber, wrought iron or an array of building materials. Decide on a layout for the beds such as one directly over another, an L shaped design or a loft design. Determine the mattress size. For example, bunk beds can be constructed with two twin-sized mattresses, a twin and a full or two full-sized mattresses.

Step 2

Design in extra features and finishes such as paint color.

Include any extra features such as a built-in bookcase, desk, slide, shelves, drawers or built-in walls. Prioritize features that you deem a necessity. For example, design a place for extra storage if space is an issue, or a desk for a college student. Include themes and characters if designing beds for a kid’s room. Ask your children for their input. Plan lighting options in each space if designing individualized sleeping compartments. Decide on paint colors and finishes for building materials used to construct the beds. Include ideas for embellishments such as decorative knobs or handles for storage drawers.

Step 3

Graph paper will help you draw the bed to scale.

Measure the wall or walls that the beds will be built on or near. Use 1/4-inch graph paper to create a scaled elevation plan, which is similar to a floor plan. Draw the height and width of the wall you measured to scale, letting each 1/4-inch box represent 1 foot in either direction. Draw your bed design, using the same scale for a general idea of size. Create another scaled elevation on a separate piece of graph paper if the bed will be built on two walls or to view the design from a different perspective. Use these drawings to help determine approximately how big your bunk bed will be in regard to the rest of the room.

Step 4

A home improvement store salesperson can help you with materials.

Take your scaled bunk bed design idea to your local home improvement store or lumber yard. Ask a knowledgeable salesperson to help you gather the materials needed to build your project and determine exact dimensions. Browse woodworking or DIY forums online if you run into a problem or need extra help. Post a question of your own if you don't find the information for which you are looking.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Graph paper, 1/4-inch
  • Computer
  • Internet access


  • Do a keyword search for “bunk bed designs” or “custom bunk bed designs.” Browse photo galleries to get ideas for designing your own bunk bed.
  • Look for DIY bunk bed building plans online that are similar to your design idea for material lists if you plan on building the bed yourself.
  • Bunk bed plans can be purchased online with complete hardware kits that include everything you will need to build the bed except for lumber.
  • Hire a carpenter to build you bunk beds in order to guarantee structural safety.
  • If you are building the bunk beds yourself, ask a professional carpenter for advice on structural safety, if necessary.


  • Bunk beds have been known to cause serious injury to children when not built, maintained or used properly. Ensure the design and construction of the bed is strong and secure. Check screws and bolts often and tighten any that have worked their way loose.
  • Set ground rules for children who use bunk beds, such as no horseplay or jumping from the top bunk.
  • Always use safety rails on upper beds.

About the Author

Michelle Radcliff owned a retail home furnishings business for eight years. Radcliff offers decorating advice on her blog, Home Decorating News, is a regular contributor on interior design at and earned certification as an interior decorator from Penn Foster College in 2013.