Today we’re breaking down all of the steps for the build-out of Lucy’s fully custom floating loft bed.
A quick note: We hope this goes without saying, but these are the steps that worked for us in our own home. We gave every consideration to what we feel is safe for our child and her capabilities. We encourage you to use our project as inspiration, rather than a step-by-step guide. Thank you for following along!
It’s done! Finally! After weeks of rough carpentry, waiting on our electrician, finish carpentry, caulking, filling, sanding and painting, Lucy’s floating loft bed is wrapped up and we couldn’t be happier with the end result. Here’s how it all came together.
1| Framing and Rough Carpentry
The initial inspiration for this project was the floating shelf project in our downstairs workshop. We also took a healthy dose of inspiration from the Petersik’s beach house bunk bed project. Lucy’s bedroom is long and narrow, so the best use of space was to orient the bed perpendicular to the room’s footprint. This also allowed us to fasten it to the studs on 3 sides, which was ideal.
In order to build the 3 sided structure in the most stable way possible, we measured, cut and built all but the front board outside of the room. We built the frame from standard 2″ x 4″ framing lumber and held together with HeadLOK structural fasteners. For reference, our platform was built to 86″ wide x 41″ deep to accommodate the 75″ x 39″ Leesa Studio Mattress.
Once we built the three-sided structure, we located the studs and got it fastened into place using the same 4 1/2″ HeadLOK fasteners. This building method basically framed the platform to become a part of the house. Trust us when we say it’s not going anywhere without a whole heck of a lot of effort.
With the three sides fastened to the room’s studs, we double-checked the level of every plane. We then fastened the front board into place to complete the box structure.
Now that the framed structure was secure, it was time to attach the 1/2″ sanded plywood skins to the top and bottom. We made thes cuts intentionally 1/4″ short to allow for easier installation and to accommodate drywall imperfections – but don’t worry, any visible gaps will hide beneath small trim and a bead of caulk. More on the latter in a moment!
Before nailing, we laid a bead of construction adhesive on all contact surfaces to keep squeaks and movement to a minimum. We then popped everything into place using 2 1/2″ nails in our our finish nailer.
Every step of the process made an already sturdy structure even sturdier! We’re convinced that this loft platform would take almost as much time to properly remove as it did to construct!
2 | Finish Carpentry and Railing Installation
The sturdy rough carpentry was now in place and it was time to move on to trim and finish work. We started this step of the process by leveling and installing a nice piece of 1″ x 10″ poplar face board using 2″ wood screws. The screw heads were countersunk a bit since we’d be using wood filler to conceal the holes later.
Tip: We love poplar for applications like this. It’s cost effective, straight and largely knot-free, which makes it great for work that will be painted. It tends to lean green-ish and often doesn’t take stain well, so we would have used white oak in its place if we were staining.
With the face poplar face board in place, we were ready to construct the 3 part railing. As you can see in the photo below, it’s constructed by joining two poplar 1″ x 2″ boards and a half-round 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ oak bar edge moulding. All three pieces were glued and nailed together, then wood-filled and sanded flush to create one sturdy piece. This design is a bit more tedious than only using a 1-by, but we wanted the thicker look with a rounded top. To us, it was worth the extra effort for something more custom!
Once the top railing piece was constructed and finished, we moved on to the vertical portions of the railing. These were built with a 4″ stagger to sit directly on top of the poplar face board, which protrudes exactly 4″ above the platform base. The finished vertical piece is pictured below left, with a dry fit for demonstration below right. All corners were mitered for a fully flush finished product.
Happy with our dry fit, we moved on to trimming the top piece to the exact desired length with a 45° miter on each end. Next, we glued and nailed to the horizontal rail and allowed to cure. Once dry, we attached the railing to the poplar face board with a few short wood screws from behind. Finally, we filled the holes and the entire finished railing was sanded flush.
3 | Finishing Details
After we installed the railing, we ripped down and cut to length a piece of 1″ x 5″ common board to flush out the inside of the railing. We then capped the now 1 1/2″ thick face board with the same 1 1/2″ bar edge moulding that was used for the railing, seen below.
For a bit of additional structural rigidity, we also installed four x 4″ corner braces to the joint between the plywood loft base and the face board/railing structure. We knew the mattress would completely cover these braces, so we didn’t feel the need to camouflage them with anything but paint.
To fill the dead space at the foot of the bed, we built a custom hidden charging station! It’s a simple 4 sided box built out of leftover 1/2″ mdf that we had on hand. The construction method was similar to the toy box in our snug. This flip-top box will act as a place for Lucy or her sleepover friends to charge devices, stash a book or charge any devices, such as phones and tablets. The stealthy black outlet inside is a combination two outlet/USB/USB-C plug that should be compatible with almost any electronic device.
After the above photo was taken, Kim went around every. single. seam with a bead of caulk for a fully finished look. On the underside of the bed, we used 3/4″ flat stock around the perimeter as well, also caulked.
4 | Paint! Paint! Paint!
WIth construction complete, it was time to spray! We used our Zipwall system to seal off the rest of the room in plastic and eliminate overspray. We used our favorite Graco paint sprayer for perfect coverage and easy application. We love our Graco sprayer because it pulls paint directly from the paint can, so there’s less interruption when painting (i.e., you don’t need to stop and pour more paint in a cup). You can also spray at any angle, which is a huge perk. Setup can be tricky the first time but Graco has a free customer service number, and a real live human being will even answer! Our sprayer had a small clog that we couldn’t figure out so we called the number and had it cleared in three minutes. Now that’s service!
Two light coats and less than an hour later and we had achieved perfect, uniform coverage. Spraying isn’t always the best solution, but for a decently large project like this, we definitely saved ourselves some time. Spraying also achieved a better finish than we could have with a brush and roller.
The Finished Loft Bed!
We gave the paint a day or so to cure, then put the mattresses back into place. When the bedding went on for the first time, it all came together! Talk about a transformation! Catfish immediately did what she does best and made herself right at home and promptly fell asleep on the bottom bed.
The finished charging station with the lid installed turned out better than we could have imagined. We built it to be invisible from the ground, so it’s a fun little surprise to discover when you’re halfway up the ladder. We happened to have a velvet remnant from when we reupholstered our Milo Baughman chair, and it turned out to be an almost perfect match! Kim wrapped the top in batting and did the work herself, and it turned out perfectly. The Milo chair recently found a new home through our YBH flea instagram account, so this felt like a fun tribute. The black leather and brass handle is the perfect compliment to the black piano hinge and the other brass details throughout the room.
We’ll have a full DIY ladder tutorial posted soon, but this is where the room stands for now. The completed room will obviously feature a ‘real’ bed down below as opposed to a mattress on the floor! We’re (im)patiently waiting for this bed to arrive, but Lucy is already settling into the new space nicely.
Oh, and a quick note on why we didn’t build a bed down below. The answer to that is pretty simple; eventually, Lucy’s room will need to have a small desk and/or more room to stretch out. The goal is that she’ll sleep on the loft bed, and the bottom bed will be removed for a more purposeful nook.
We truly appreciate you following along on this journey and look forward to sharing the next steps (ladder tutorial hits next week!). It’s been so fun to work on, but most importantly, Lucy absolutely loves it!
PS: Here’s how we made super strong floating shelves for our workshop in a similar way.