Shopping for Bunk Beds

Posted May 7, 2018 4:02 p.m. EDT

In expanding households, where the number of children grows to exceed the number of available bedrooms, a bunk bed can make the most of existing space. But shoehorning siblings into tight quarters isn’t the only reason to have one.

Simply put, “they’re fun,” said Christine Markatos, an interior designer in Santa Monica, California, who frequently puts bunk beds in her projects. “Often, we find that we’re doing bunk beds in a room for one child, but it’s really about having space for a sleepover.”

They can also provide overflow sleeping space for adult guests, especially in second homes, Markatos said, adding that she has recently noticed a trend of “bunk rooms in beach houses and bunk rooms in ski houses.”

Of course, there are some rooms where bunk beds just won’t work.

“Ceiling height for the top bunk is your number one consideration,” she said, because the person sleeping there needs to be able to “sit up without bumping their head.”

How should the bunks be positioned?

Stacking beds one on top of the other isn’t the only option. With some bunk beds, the lower bunk can be positioned perpendicular to the top, Markatos said, or omitted altogether, to make room for a desk.

— What accessories do you need?

“We often end up adding some sort of sconce on each bunk level, so the kids can read,” Markatos said, noting that wall-mounted shelves can also function as bedside tables.

— How much head space is enough?

“You’re probably going to need at least 3 1/2 feet” between the mattress and ceiling, she said. “But it depends on the age of the child.”


Perch Twin Bunk Bed: Birch-plywood and MDF bunk bed with removable lower bunk, $1,590 at Oeuf; 800-691-8810 or

Svärta Bunk Bed: Tubular steel bunk bed with silver powder-coated finish, about $170 at Ikea; 888-888-4532 or

Shutter Bunk Bed: Painted wood bunk bed, convertible to a pair of twin beds, $3,995 at Maine Cottage; 866-366-3505 or

Camden Low Bunk Bed: White-painted wood bunk bed with integrated ladder, about $1,200 at Pottery Barn Kids, 800-993-4923 or

Industrial Loft Twin Study Bunk: Steel loft bed with integrated desk and shelves, and an optional bed on casters; from about $1,400 (without bottom bed) at RH Baby & Child; 800-762-1005 or