Simon’s Stairs Bed

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you are either tired of hearing about this bed or want the details of what we did. So here are the details and how we decided to custom build a bunk bed. If you’re only interested in pictures and video, just scroll down.

We determined we wanted to do bunk beds, aka stairs bed (according to Simon) in the early fall. The room the boys will share is about 8 x 10 and the placement of doors and windows really limit our options. There is room for a portable crib and the toddler bed if we got rid of the bookshelf and or the pinball table (not happening) but then we’d be in a pinch in a year or so when the baby needs a bigger bed. There isn’t room for two cribs. A twin bed will fit but under the window is really the only place for it without blocking the door or the closet (and at 40 inches would really cut into play space). We looked at buying bunk beds, but a bunk bed in front of a window on the 6th floor – not happening. Then I looked for a “toddler size” bunk which would use crib-size mattresses. I found nothing, the reason being general rule is that if a child is small enough for a toddler bed then they could hurt themselves it they fell. But this is city living so it’s time to get creative.

I found plans for a toddler size bunk on and we thought about modifying that for awhile – to raise the beds a few inches to allow for underbed storage. Then we found Ikea’s junior beds, which are crib width (27.5 inches) but a foot longer (63 inches). This seemed like the perfect solution to give Simon a few more years to grow. But Ikea didn’t have a juinor bunk. I went back to ana-white and we found a few bunk beds. After measuring the room we decided that as much as we like the idea of stairs going to the foot of the top bunk a traditional ladder style bunk made more sense.

We used these plans and modified to fit a 27.5 x 63 in mattress. We kept the height of the top bunk the same at about 46 inches to give us adults enough clearance to sit on the bottom bunk comfortably. We did raise the bottom bed from 8 to 10 inches so that our suitcases and the car seat would fit.

After some math and double checking, we went to Home Depot to buy lumber. We went with the Select Pine (the cheaper of the 2 options we had). For about $215 we bought everything we needed. We also made the decision to rent a van for a few hours rather than walk everything home in our city cart as we did for our last build. Worth every penny of that $68.

Buy List:

10 – 10′ 1×4 Boards (could have gotten away with 8 -8′ boards and 2 -10′ boards)
4 – 6′ 2×2 Boards
9 – 8′ 1×3 Boards (not including wood slats)
2″ Wood Screws (we used #8)
1 1/4″ Wood Screws (we used #8)
Wood Glue
Wood Filler
16 – 3″ Bolts with washers and nuts

We were going to have HD do the large cuts, but their table saw was down, so ALL cutting and assembly was done with a circular saw in our living room. (Some of the finishing pieces were cut on the balcony weekend 2)

Cut List (modified for 27.5 x 63 in mattress and 10 in clearance under bottom bed):

12 – 1×4 @ 26 1/2″ (End Rails)
8 – 1×3 @ 63″ (Solid Leg Pieces)
8 – 1×4 @ 68 1/2″ (Back Rails and Front Support) this gives a bit more wiggle room than needed could adjust to 68”
4 – 2×2 @ 63″ (Mattress Support) if adjusting back & front rails this cut should change by same
2 – 1 x 4 @  47” (Front Rails Top)
1 – 1×3 @ 53″ (Ladder Side)
2 – 1×3 @ 24″ (Ladder Rungs)

7 – 1×3 @ 10″ (Ladder Trim)
1 – 1×3 @ 33″ (Front Leg Trim Piece)
12 – 1×3 @ 3″ (Trim Pieces between Rails)
2 – 1×3 @ 20″ (Trim Pieces between Rails)
4 – 1×3 @ 10″ (Bottom Trim Pieces)

Then we just followed the detailed plans. The pdf for this bed doesn’t work, but we used the “printable view” to get the step by step instructions.

**notes** 1) We used two of the Sultan bed slats from Ikea at $9 each rather than cutting 1×3 slats 2) We decided not to use finishing nails, wood glue alone was sufficient 3) We were going to use metal braces for the beds, but once assembled it felt secure. 4) We determined the ladder width and front rails based on how much wood we had after a taking 26.5 off the 10” board which was necessary after a missed cut. 47” was center of the remaining wood. Meaning that the ladder rungs would be 24” I’m happy with these widths but the original plans call for a 19” ladder which would also have been fine. 5) Measure ALL spacing before cutting trim as cuts are approximate and may be slightly off the whole number once sides are assembled.

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If we had a workshop/garage and could use more than one tool at time this could totally be completed in 1 – 2 days. We spent Saturday and Sunday buying and cutting all but the finish pieces then assembling the two long sides. Two evenings during the week got the head and foot assembled, a couple hours each. And one more Saturday to glue in the finish pieces, sand, and bolt the bed together.

Saturday night Simon got to spend the night in the stairs bed for the first time using his crib mattress on the bottom bunk. There were a few emotions in taking apart the crib.

Sunday we borrowed a car from friends and survived a trip to Ikea. The app is actually great because I was able to complete a shopping list that shows store inventory. We were able to pretty much avoid the main floor. We went straight to the kids bed area, determined which mattress we wanted and picked up the sheets (2 blue and 2 green) and mattress pads, and a second rug for the room. Then straight to the warehouse to pick up the mattresses. We would have been in and out in under an hour except for the madhouse that is Ikea. Rob and Simon went through checkout and took everything to the car while I waited in the spare parts line for nearly an hour to get a replacement screw for the crib (so we can sell). But after nearly an hour and no sign of me being helped anytime soon, we just left. That wait was the most irritating part. But for about $200 we are now set with the bedding, etc… and the stairs bed is assembled.

It took Simon about two trips up and down to figure out the top bunk. He already loves to play up there, but on night 1, wanted to sleep on the bottom. Then Monday he had his “quiet time” up top and Monday night decided to sleep up there. Success! We did put the crib mattress and couch cushions on the floor just in case. But unless he falls on the ladder I’m honestly more worried about him rolling off the bottom. Tuesday was bottom again and then Wednesday up top – so it looks like he’s going to pick a bed based on his mood. But he’s sleeping in it!

We may stain or paint down the line, but for now, the unfinished look will do just fine. We’ll also have to figure out a way to make the rails safe for a baby as right now a little could totally get stuck between the rails. I’m thinking a breathable bumper around three sides and a regular bed rail for the open side.

Full room reveal soon. But that is the stairs bed.


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4 thoughts on “Simon’s Stairs Bed

  1. Great work on the bunk bed! Simon is soooo funny! “I’m gonna go up the ladder on this stairs bed!” He looks like he’s got it down pretty well. 🙂

  2. Way to go Simon! And wow are you guys handy. We are your quintessential NYCers who wouldn’t know what to do with a drill if it hit us in the face (well, that would make it pretty hard to use I guess). Our kids’ room is a week bit wider, so we should be able to fit both the toddler bed and crib. Now that my S climbed out during one of his “naps” I guess it’s time to get going. Euf, I’m totally resisting this change. Moving furniture is not our favorite thing to do.

    You look adorable, by the way, and I’m glad that things are winding down. Whatever you can do to enjoy these last weeks, do it! I wish that I’d had the chance to slow down a little since my girl came before the anticipated break I’d scheduled for the end of the pregnancy.

  3. We are FINALLY going to the wood place to get the supplies for these bunkbeds tomorrow. The bunkbeds are going to be the girls’ Christmas gift this year, and they are soo excited (they know about them). I will be sure to finish our finished product. Thanks again for sharing this. What a huge help this will be in making our own!!!

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