If you have more than one child, chances are, your house has felt some growing pains as your youngest transitions from crib to full sized bed. Unfortunately, houses don’t always grow as fast as families, and often it isn’t practical (or even possible!) for all of your kids to have their own rooms. Choosing the right furniture can go a long way towards keeping the peace, though: a good bunk bed will not only give both your kids a place to sleep, but will mean more space in the room overall, and even little added privacy, too.
When you have more than one kid in a room, especially a small one, space is at a premium. Bunk beds are the obvious bedding of choice in this situation, because you can get two beds in the space of one, but the best bunk beds go a step further. Multi-function bunk beds not only put two beds in the space of one, but also add the functionality of several other types of furniture in the same amount of space. This Bunk With Stair Storage, for example, replaces the traditional ladder with an easier to navigate staircase that doubles as a dresser, adding storage while only slightly increasing the footprint.
At the very least, you want a bunk bed that has storage underneath it, like this Full Sized Bunk (which has full rather than twin sized mattress frames that can be disassembled into two beds when the kids – and your house! – grow into them). This one comes with drawers built in, but you can buy individual storage drawers to fit underneath the bottom mattress even for bunks that come without them.
T-shaped bunk beds have their advantages, too. While they do, admittedly, take up a little more space, the repositioning of the bottom bunk allows you to pack on more storage on the sides. This Twin Bunk Workstation, for example, has a computer desk as well as a full sized dresser and shelves as the support for the top bunk. Most bunks of this type are bought in pieces, which means several types of furniture can be substituted for the two supports – you could have one dresser for each child, or give them each their own desk, separated by the bed in the middle to give them both a little privacy – all without filling the room up with furniture.
Even with only one desk, bunks in this style afford a little privacy to both kids – the one on top is out of view, and the one on the bottom has a little hidden cave with shelves, especially if one side is pushed up against the wall. The best thing about beds like this Twin Storage Loft, though, is that as your home grows, and your kids get too old to share a room, both bunks can be used as stand alone beds, and the legs of the top bunk can either be used as free standing furniture… or turned inward for a nice desk-cave that takes up even less space while keeping the top bunk lofted.
In a tight space, a bunk like this Customizable Loft is a great compromise, as both kids can have their own semi-private spaces, room for their stuff on their bunk – as well as more room for furniture that’s more fun than functional. And again, if you move or expand your house, you won’t have to throw the bunk out with the bathwater, as the beds can be used independently as well as bunked.
Even if you get a very basic T-shaped bunk like this Loft Bunk With Bookcase, which is essentially two identical beds, one of them on stilts, you can often fit more furniture in the empty space inside, like the bookcase shown, shelves, or possibly even a desk. While plenty of bunk beds come with futons on the bottom that pull out into full sized mattresses, I wouldn’t recommend them for long-term use, especially for a kid; futon mattresses are neither as comfortable as a regular mattress or a sofa, and can interrupt sleep or even hurt your child’s back. If you like the idea of using bunk for some spare seating, though, this one makes pretty genius use of couch-cushion like pillows to turn the top bunk into a mini-sofa – great for when an older kid upgrades but the younger sibling wants to keep the setup.
If you’re genuinely in a pinch for space, though, and aren’t looking for long-term reusability, this Twin/Full Bunk is a good, relatively inexpensive solution. This is especially good if you have one older kid who might need the extra space afforded by a full sized mattress rather than a twin. It’s about as bare bones a bunk as you’re going to find, but for a big family with not quite enough space, it’s a good way to shuffle around your young ‘uns if, say, your oldest is about to head to college, or you haven’t quite finalized the purchase of a new home, but your youngest has outgrown his crib.
Whatever your particular needs, lofting is a great bedroom storage solution; bunk beds are the age old answer to fitting multiple kids into single room, but there’s no reason not to make them do a little extra work, too. The more space your kids have, the more comfortable they’ll be and the more likely they’ll be to get along. And unlike so many things kids can grow out of (from dolls to custom murals), a good bunk bed should be able to grow up with them, even if they end up in separate rooms. Are you looking into bunks because they’re fun? Space saving? Or just because you need a better way to put your kids to bed? Let me know in the comments!