simple stuff: bunk beds.

May 16, 2019
simple bunk beds for a tiny apartment | reading my tea leaves

Per yesterday’s post regarding sleeping arrangements, here’s a small round up of bunk beds that I’ve been admiring. As I’ve begun to wrap my mind around welcoming a sky-high bed into our small apartment, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of low bunkbed options out there. While these low-profile options lack the possibility of under-bed storage, I like that the overall size offers a less imposing option for a small room. More than that, when the top bunk is low, it’s still readily accessible for storytime and bed-making and goodnight kisses.

The range of prices (and heights) here is relatively wide—and all of these options are new—but like cribs and other bits of child-centric gear, bunk beds are an item with a relatively short window of usefulness to any particular family. I imagine the sharing and secondhand economy could easily deliver on this front, so should anyone decide to go that route, consider this post for your keyword search.

1. Fort Mini Bunk Beds from Room & Board: A powder-coated steel bunk with a low-profile. This bed comes in 15 different colors for anyone who wants to get a little more wild than I have in this round up. I like that there’s ample clearance between the two bunks, but that the overall bed is still just 54-inches high. (1)

2. Babyletto TipToe Bunk Bed: This is a standard height bunk at 67+ inches, but it has the options of both additional trundle bed and converting to two twin beds should we (or you!) ever have the space. Overall, the bunk is a bit more modern in design than most of our furnishings, but I still think it’s simple enough that it might complement our style instead of compete with it. It’s made from a combination of solid poplar and CARB II TSCA-compliant engineered wood, meaning it meets EPA standards for formaldehyde emissions. (2)

3. Waverly Mini Wood Bunk Bed from Room & Board: A classic mini bunk made from solid, domestically sourced maple. The slanted ladder would take up a bit more floorspace than some of the other designs, but the overall footprint is still relatively slight. As with the other Room & Board option above, I like that the bottom bed rests on a slatted support and not directly on the floor. (3)

4. Camden Low Twin-Over-Twin Bunk Bed from Pottery Barn: This bunk has it’s integrated ladder placed on the end of the bed. I like the visual simplicity of the wide, uninterrupted side rails and the solid end panels. It’s made from a combination of poplar and engineered wood that’s Greenguard Gold Certified and made in a Fair-Trade certified facility. (4)

5. P’kolino Nesto Bunk Bed: This is another standard-height option, but I like that it’s not bulky and has a low-profile ladder with handles. It’s made of FSC-certified pine and non-toxic, zero-VOC finishes. Currently out of stock. (5)

6. Ikea Kura: This is the most affordable option on the list and the one that would probably allow for the most creativity. I’ve pinned a bunch of creative hacks of the kura bed over the past few months (one of my favorites is from my friend and former colleague, Justine Hand). I think I might opt to leave at least some of the fiberboard off completely if we went this route. The only real downside is that the lower mattress rests directly on the floor. Not a deal breaker, but not something everyone might choose. (6)

7. Oeuf Design Perch Bunk Bed: I’m not sure if this design is perfect for our space, or if this bunk would overwhelm our space at 64-inches high and with a ladder that extends two-feet into the room. Still, it’s a handsome bunk in a sea of pretty generic options. It can also convert to a loft bed and standalone twin. The bed is made of engineered wood—Baltic birch plywood and eco-MDF—and finishes are non-toxic. (7)

8. Small Space Twin Bunk Bed from Crate and Barrel: I’ve kind of surprised myself with how much I like this design, but I think it’s that the high sides of the bottom bunk looks as cozy to me as the top bunk and that the solid sides make for an overall look that’s less busy than the bunks with lots of rails. This is another low-profile option made of solid poplar and engineered wood. (8)

9. Ikra Mydal: One last standard-height bunk that would leave plenty of room for customization if we decided to paint. Like the other Ikea option, it’s exceedingly affordable (and no doubt ubiquitous on the secondhand market). It’s made of unfinished, solid pine. (9)

What do you think? A favorite here? A favorite elsewhere? If you need it, lots more bunk bed encouragement from RMTL readers.

This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.

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  • Reply Erika May 16, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    My siblings and I have all used the Mydal bed at some point growing up- it’s probably 25+ years old at this point and still kicking. I vaguely remember the ikea trip, and definitely have other memories of siblings and sleepovers. Strange how a round up on bunkbeds can make me nostalgic.

    • Reply Mo October 6, 2019 at 7:16 am

      Our predecessor to the Myrdal is now roughly 40 years old, in it’s second family and on it’s 5th and 6th child!

  • Reply kim m May 16, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Some nice options! I’m also drawn to the Crate & Barrel option and have had good experience with that company in terms of both ordering and delivery. I suppose my only hesitation is that the high sides might make changing the sheets difficult.

  • Reply Annie Eckhart May 16, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    We have number 8 and love it ❤️
    It feels very sturdy (my husband or I sometimes get on the top bunk with my son) and it’s cozy 🙂

  • Reply Julie May 16, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    I’m going to post this on both articles — My boys twin beds are 18″ apart, side by side. They are 7 & 9yo. It works perfectly for them and the room looks so sweet. Am I correct in thinking more privacy will be needed as we get closer to the teen years. If so, do I go the bunk bed route or find a partition? There are no other options, tight space. I’d love this community’s insight! (Thanks, Erin, for the space and the conversation.)

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 16, 2019 at 2:48 pm

      Envious of those 18-inches! My little sisters shared a room with a similar layout until our older sister left for college. I know they appreciated the growing room when they had it, but I also know lots of things are possible! Carmella Rayone is raising three teen boys (one now off to college, I believe) in very close quarters. You might find some inspiration in her stories!

      • Reply Julie May 16, 2019 at 3:08 pm

        She’s who prompted me to ‘see’ the teen years ahead! I’ve been discussing with her as well.

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 16, 2019 at 3:12 pm

          Oh, good!

        • Reply danielle May 16, 2019 at 4:39 pm

          kd frames makes nice platform beds ( I have one) and a trundle bed that fits under any of their frames. Free shipping- well made.

        • Reply Carmella May 17, 2019 at 10:34 pm

          Hey, Julie –

          I’ve had some other thoughts about your sons’ room…I’ll be in touch as soon as I can!

      • Reply Carmella May 17, 2019 at 10:32 pm

        Thanks for the shout out, Erin! Yes, for the last seven years our guys have been in one loft (two still home for one more year), each with his own curtained bunk nook – their own room within the room. They’ve always shared a room, beginning with a twin with trundle + a crib, then to a triple decker bunk bed. For easy bed making for them, we used fitted sheets and duvets (no top sheet).

  • Reply Audrey May 16, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    We just got my 3-year old Oeuf’s twin River frame and matching night stand. It’s so lovely and well made! (not the bunk you’re showing, but very similar design). We had someone from Task Rabbit put it all together and he also commented on the high quality. Highly recommend their furniture!

  • Reply Heidi May 16, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Excited to hear what decision you guys end up making! Pondering same decisions over here. Thanks for all the insight and research!

  • Reply Julia May 16, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    We had a the Kura one for a while. I was initially drawn to it’s lower height and thought it would be a good introduction to a higher bed. Unfortunately, that’s what worked against me. I bashed my head daily on that thing. No matter which way it was flipped, there’s not much headroom.

    At least with the Kura, it’s easy to find them on the cheap on Craigslist and easy to resell too. Could be a good starter to see if the kids like sleeping in that.

  • Reply Sid May 16, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    As someone who tried bunk beds (kura and another ikea model) with small kids and ended up going back to twin beds, I can say that bunk beds do have some drawbacks (aside from my husband’s constant stress about top bunk rough-housing). For me it was the issue of a top bunk sick kid. It doesn’t happen often thankfully but when it did it was far more logistically-difficult to deal with all the bedding changes, barf-bucket placement and soothing snuggles in a bunk than in a bed. For me that was the deal breaker though, my kids are still complain about their lost bunks.

    • Reply Trish O May 17, 2019 at 12:31 pm

      When this happened to us, we brought the sick kid to our bed. My 14 year old still gets in our bed when he is sick.

    • Reply jiturka May 23, 2019 at 5:31 pm

      We just switched when only one of us was ill.

  • Reply Alexandra Paull May 16, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you so much for this! Prior to this discussion (and the comments from the previous post) I had never known there were other “low height” bunk bed options besides the Ikea Kura. So I find this so exciting! I’m especially psyched to see some with slanted ladders, because I feel like my 4-year old would have a much easier time navigating a slanted ladder when he’s sleepy or if he needs to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. All it would take is one bad slip-and-shin-bang to sour that kid on the idea of bunk beds forever, I swear, haha.

  • Reply Trish O May 16, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    We have two kids in a bunk (they are now teens). The room is very small and no closets. The bunk is from Ikea and we have had it for 10 years. The boys started in it at 4 and 6. They are now 15 an 17 and well over 6 feet tall. It has worked very well for us all these years. It is a white metal one that I liked ok (industrial look was really big back then) I was going to replace and just never did. It is very sturdy. The house was built in 1902, so the high ceilings has helped us with being able to keep them in the bunks longs. Son one off to college soon…. so then just one in the room. That happened in a blink of an eye.

  • Reply Anna May 16, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    We splashed out and got the oeuf bunk for our two and four year old (family of five in a 2 bedroom SF apartment). It seemed like a lot for a bunk but we absolutely love it. We got the trundle for underneath, which means you get the ladder that sits flush against the bunk so you can easily pull the trundle in and out without banging into the ladder, also meaning it takes up much less floor space in their room. We also like the fact it can be separated out into a loft and a single bed if we ever find ourselves in a larger home. Although, our two love sharing a room so much I can’t see that happening anytime soon!

  • Reply Clay May 16, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    We picked up a secondhand Kura for our only, because the extra playspace underneath made sense for us. It was a great deal, put together easy, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be in it for a while. I can’t tell you if it’s the right choice for your kids but IMO it’s definitely a great option.

  • Reply Rikki May 16, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    I don’t like the longevity of the low bunk beds because they are awkward to sit on. As far as the IKEA one with the mattress on the floor you can buy wood slats to put on the floor to create some air flow. Of course that low still welcomes bugs . I’ve loved the Oeuf design forever. It’s beautiful and timeless and gives the kids options as they age. …that’s my first vote. My second vote is the Ikra Mydal.

  • Reply Reba May 16, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Well do I know the kiddie furniture internet rabbit hole! Foster care in my state does not allow bunk beds, so I’m looking for other twin options that neither take up the whole room, nor look too babyish…I’ll def be following comments here. My cousins had bunk beds growing up and I was *so* jealous!

  • Reply K May 16, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Wine crates fit under the Mydal! And if going the bunk bed route I recommend forgoing a top sheet, it makes bed-making a bit simpler.

  • Reply Maree Bryant May 16, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Love the ikea bunk – we were looking at hacks for this when we thought we might have to move into our investment apartment which is only 1 bedroom. The hack I loved for a single child is converting the area under the bunk bed into a play area with mat & mobile.
    If you do choose this option, one hint for the bottom mattress would be to add a woolen under-blanket for this mattress. It would keep the babe well insulated from the bare timber floor. x

  • Reply emily May 17, 2019 at 6:04 am

    one positive for a slanted ladder is they seem to be easier for littler kids to climb. my kids just got bunkbeds with a straight ladder and my 5yo is on the top and she finds it a bit scary going up and down for toilet trips in the night-whereas the bunkbeds at grandmas house have a slanted ladder and she’s fine with that.

  • Reply Rebecca May 17, 2019 at 6:32 am

    We just got the Ikea Mydal for our two kids, aged 6 and 3, and so far, so sweet! It’s visually simple (we do intend to paint it soon) and like it’s solid wood and that storage underneath is possible. Also! Because of the tight fit between mattress and bed frame on the top bunk, there’s little shifting of blankets making morning bed-making a breeze. It’s been a real hit with kids and parents alike, and the kids love their new perspectives.

  • Reply Maryann May 17, 2019 at 10:06 am

    As you say, bunks are ubiquitous on Craigs list or similar sites. We found ours on Craigslist, and there is no denying it: they are big and I hate changing the top bunk sheets. But they came with drawers under the bottom bunk which eliminated the need for having separate clothes storage. Bunks worked really well for a long time for my son and daughter. A few years back, we were able to move the kids into separate rooms, but my son still has the bunks and they both still like to sleep in the same room when needed (or not). I think sleeping in the same room really helped with nighttime anxiety for both kids. I miss it!

  • Reply Amanda May 17, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Be REALLY careful if you decide to go the KURA route. Mattress placed directly on the floor can really easily develop mold.

    We were discussing mattresses on the floor at work a couple of weeks ago and a co-worker told us that it had happened to her.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 17, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Noted! Would likely use floor slats!

  • Reply MissEm May 17, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    I’ve been trying to decide what to do about this same thing for years, which is why my 6 year old still sleeps in (and likes) her toddler bed. But I need to get on it. Low is nice, but I’m harbouring hopes of putting a rope ladder on their bunk and maybe a pulley system so they can play ship and girl pirates in style.

  • Reply Maya May 18, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    My parents got my brother and I the Ikea Mydal bunk bed (or whatever its predecessor was back then) when we were little. When we got too old to enjoy the bunk bed aspect, we took the bed apart and created two twin beds, one of which my brother, newly graduated from college, still sleeps on. (He did upgrade the mattress, but the original frame is the same.) So it really does last!

  • Reply Michela May 20, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Late to the conversation, missed this post. We have the kura and we love it. No issues at all. I love the height, very convenient. My littles started to sleeping upstairs she was 18 months and we never had any problem. I wanted to hack it too but then left it as it is…my girls are decorating it now…I’ll let you imagine…but it is beautiful it is their bed the way they want it.

  • Reply Martina May 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Just a tip: we got the Kura and got a set of slats (? what is the word for the ladder-like thing mattresses rest on) for a normal twin bed (also from ikea) so the mattress isn’t directly on the floor. So far, so comfy.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 22, 2019 at 1:41 pm

      Excellent! Thanks for letting me know!

  • Reply jiturka May 23, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    My sis an me had bunk beds till I was 17. I loved sleaping in my eagle’s nest. We climbed on the side, the bed was very sturdy an the ladder was very similar to ribstol. It was also used for many our exercises. Under the bed was one very big drawer on wheels. I fondly remenber my dad throwing me loads of times on the top bed. I even had a nightstand as there was a wardrobe/bookcase just next to it. Good luck with finding the right one!

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