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How to Make Bunk Beds and Bedroom Storage With Ready-Made Cabinets

Turn a bedroom wall into a storage unit with bunk beds using ready-made cabinets and basic lumber.

Brian Patrick Flynn, Decor Demon

Materials Needed:

  • ready-made base cabinets
  • ready-made wall cabinets
  • ready-made side panels
  • cabinet door hinges
  • cabinet door hardware
  • circular saw
  • table saw
  • jigsaw
  • nail gun
  • brads
  • drill
  • 3" wood screws
  • 3" metal screws
  • galvanized metal pipe
  • galvanized metal flanges
  • galvanized threaded nipples
  • galvanized metal elbows
  • measuring tape
  • 8' long strips of 2x2" lumber
  • level
  • 8' long strips of 2x4" lumber
  • wood glue
  • quart of semigloss latex paint
  • paint roller handle
  • paint roller sleeve
  • paint pan
  • 2" angled paintbrush
  • pencil
  • measuring tape
  • three 8x4' sheets of 3/4" paint-grade plywood
  • speed square

Measure Wall

Use a measuring tape to determine the proper height, width and depth of wall (Images 1 and 2). Keep in mind that in addition to the cabinetry, the wall will also accommodate one or more twin mattresses. Since twin mattresses are 39 inches wide, it's important for the wall to have enough depth for positioning the mattresses without impeding traffic flow.

Configure Layout

Referring to height, width and depth of wall, search retailers or home improvement stores for cabinets and shelves in readily stocked and available sizes. Configure cabinets and shelves accordingly, with enough length and width to incorporate mattresses for sleeping, as well as empty space overhead for getting in and out of the bed. Tip: When configuring cabinetry, keep in mind that filler pieces can be created from lumber placed between two cabinets then painted the same color to create a cohesive wall-to-wall look.

Assemble Cabinets

Following manufacturer's specific instructions, assemble each cabinet (Images 1-4), but do not attach door hinges and door fronts. All cabinets will need to be structurally reinforced with lumber, then secured to the floor and to the wall before the doors are attached.

Create Base Frames

Base cabinets will need to be structurally reinforced, starting along the bottom, before they can support the weight of additional cabinets placed on top of them as well as bed frames and mattresses. To reinforce the base cabinets, build a base frame for them to sit atop directly. First, use measuring tape to determine the exact depth and width of base cabinets. Next, referring to those measurements, cut 8' strips of 2x2" lumber to size with hand saw (Image 1), then attach them to one another using a nail gun and brads or a drill and 3" wood screws (Image 2). Once each frame is complete, place the base cabinets on top of the frames to ensure a perfect fit (Images 3 and 4).

Reinforce Cabinet Interiors

In addition to the frames that help support the base cabinets, the interior of each component will need to be reinforced with lumber to properly support weight. First, use measuring tape to determine proper length of each cabinet's interior. Next, use a hand saw to cut two central strips of 2x4" lumber to size (Image 1). Place one of the two cut 2x4" strips along the center rear of the interior, using measuring tape to ensure it's positioned exactly in the middle (Image 2). Secure in place with nail gun and brads or drill and 3" wood screws (Image 3). Once properly secured, place the remaining cut 2x4" strip along the center front of the cabinet, using measuring tape to ensure it's positioned exactly in the middle (Image 4); secure in place with nail gun and brads or drill and 3" wood screws (Image 5). Note: The width of each interior will also be reinforced using 2x2" lumber after the interior cabinet shelves are notched then fit into place.

Add Fascia to Central Front Reinforcements

To create a seamless look along the interior of the cabinets, a fascia board will need to be cut, painted, then attached to the center front 2x4" strip. Use measuring tape and a pencil to mark 8x4' sheet of 3/4" paint-grade plywood to size; cut with a table saw or circular saw, then paint it the same color as the cabinets using a roller handle and roller sleeve or a 2" angled paintbrush. Add wood glue along the front of the attached 2x4" strip (Images 1 and 2), then position painted plywood fascia until held in place by glue (Image 3). Secure fascia using nail gun and brads or drill and 3" wood screws through the top of the cabinet and into the top of the fascia (Image 4).

Notch Shelves to Fit Reinforcements

In order for the interior shelves of the cabinets to fit properly, they'll need to be notched for the added reinforcements. Using measuring tape and a pencil, determine the center point of the shelf, then mark it along the front edge (Image 1). Next, center a scrap piece of 2x4" along this mark, tracing its width with a pencil and using a speed square to ensure a perfectly straight edge (Image 2). Place shelf on a table saw, then make two cuts along marked lines (Image 3). Use a jigsaw to cut across the two lines, creating a notch (Image 4).

Attach Shelves Inside the Cabinets

Use measuring tape to ensure hole pegs for shelves are placed accordingly, resulting in a level installation (Image 1). Slide notched shelves into the interiors of each cabinet (Images 2 and 3). Referring to measurements of cabinet, cut 8' strip of 2x2" lumber to the depth of the cabinet using a hand saw or chop saw, then place it directly underneath the shelf and secure in place with wood glue (Images 4 and 5). Secure the 2x2" into the rear and front vertical 2x4" reinforcements using a drill and 3" wood screws.

Create Wall Braces

Wall braces will need to be created to help reinforce the backs of each cabinet and also add a super-strong surface along which to install them. First, measure, mark and cut 2x4" lumber the entire length of the wall using a hand saw. Referring to the heights of the cabinets, install the 2x4s as horizontal braces along which the reinforcements can be secured with 3" wood screws (Images 1 and 2). Next, create vertical wall braces that will reinforce the bed frames by installing 2x4" lumber perpendicular to each horizontal brace (Image 3).

Create Bed Frame Supports

In order to add proper support for each mattress while also concealing the structural lumber between cabinets, four-sided frames will need to be created. To make the frames, use a hand saw or circular saw to cut an additional piece of 2x4" lumber the same height as the one attached perpendicular to wall. Next, cut two frame pieces the width of the mattress. Secure all pieces together using a drill and 3" wood screws or a nail gun and brads (Image 1). Lastly, cut a strip of 2x4" lumber to the same length of the mattress; secure in place atop each bed frame support with a drill and 3" wood screws (Image 2).

Install Base Cabinets and Lower Cabinets

Place all base cabinets and lower cabinets into their proper positions (Image 1), then secure to one another using 3" wood screws and drill (Image 2). Measure, mark, cut and place filler frames from 2x4" lumber to create any necessary gaps for keeping configuration seamless. After all cabinets are in place, fascia for each filler frame will need to be cut from plywood, painted, attached with wood glue, then secured with a nail gun and brads or a drill and 3" wood screws (Image 3).

Build Bed Frames and Install Open Shelving

To add proper structural support for holding a mattress, cut 2x4" lumber to size (Image 1), snugly fitting perpendicular to the horizontal bed frame supports which are attached to the wall. Secure in place using a drill and 3" wood screws, spacing each 2x4" strip 18" apart (Image 2). Once all 2x4" strips are installed, measure, mark and cut 4x8' sheet of 3/4" paint-grade plywood to same width as mattress. Next, create a front fascia board by cutting 4x8' sheet of 3/4" paint-grade plywood the full length of the mattress with a height between 10-12", then attaching to bed frame supports with drill and 3" wood screws. Place any assembled open bookshelves into place (Image 3) before installing ladder (Image 4). Tip: Bunk bed ladders can be purchased online in a variety of styles or they can be made from 4x8' sheets of 1" paint-grade plywood cut to size with a circular saw with miter settings, then assembled using wood glue, 3" wood screws and drill. Note: When creating bed frames for bottom bunks, keep in mind that fascia boards will need to be cut, painted and installed to fit around filler frames.

Install Upper Cabinets

Position assembled upper cabinets into their proper places, then secure to one another as well as to wall braces and bed frame supports using a drill and 3" wood screws (Image 1). Once cabinets are secure, cut ready-made side panels to size using a table saw; secure to bed frame supports with wood glue as well as a nail gun and brads (Images 2 and 3). Measure, mark, cut, paint and install fascia as needed to fill any gaps along the front (Images 4 and 5).

Paint Bed Fascia & Install Safety Rails

Using a roller handle, roller sleeve and paintbrush, paint bed fascia with two coats of semigloss latex paint (Image 1). Next, attach safety rails to fascia using drill and 3" wood or metal screws. Tip: Standard railing can be found online or at home improvement stores; however, custom railing can be easily made from galvanized metal pipe, flanges, threaded nipples and elbows, resulting in an industrial look (Image 2).

Attach Door Fronts and Hardware

Attach hinges and door fronts in their proper places, then use a drill to secure hardware to each door front (Images 1-3).

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