Sep 03, 2023
11 Best Bunk Beds for Kids That Even Adult Guests Will Love
By Erika Owen All products featured on Architectural Digest are independently
By Erika Owen
All products featured on Architectural Digest are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
The best bunk beds for kids require both fun and versatility. Aside from freeing up some floor space in your kids room and giving little ones yet another thing to disagree over (lower bunk versus upper bunk), there are so many styles to consider. From minimalist pinewood designs and traditional twin over twin bunk bed options to imaginative triple bunk bed designs and futons, there's something for every single bedroom out there—and heck, who says they’re just for kids?
To help you wrap your head around what to consider when looking for the best space-saving bunk beds, we spoke to a couple of designers with real-life experience. Before we dig into the best bunk beds for kids, here are a few things to keep in mind.
So, how many types of bunk beds are there really?
The answer to this question is actually quite complex. "These days, there are so many variations of bunk beds, from full size to twin size, to bunks that are technically loft beds with room for a kid lounge or desk underneath, to bunk beds where the bottom bed sits perpendicular to the upper bunk," says Noz Nozawa, the interior designer behind San Francisco–based Noz Designs who's no stranger to playful bedroom setups (just take a peek at the kids room in this Menlo Park family home and the unforgettable bunk bed in this Japanese-style tree house). "Besides this, there are sleek modern bunk beds, traditional bunk beds, bunks that look like they belong in a log cabin for summer school, and fully custom built-into-a-room limitless options."
There are a lot of ways you can go. Veronika Bamfield—founder of Doma Design and mother of three—has one big piece of advice: "There's a whole realm of beds that mimic castles, playgrounds, tree houses…but in my opinion [are] not as pretty or neutral, as they may grow out of that phase quickly," she shares. "From there, it's just a super specific—and probably expensive—bed that kills the vibe because they are no longer into princesses and forts."
Are custom bunk beds a good investment?
It really comes down to your budget and how long you plan on making the bunk bed the focal point of the room. As a design element, bunk beds can work extra hard in small spaces—but it's also going to be more expensive than purchasing a premade design. "I’m very biased here, but custom is always my favorite version of a bunk bed," Noz says. "We’ve developed custom four-kid bunk bed walls with a staircase to access the two bunks, built-in bookshelves, and a reading lamp for each bunk. And we’ve also done lofted kid beds with built-in storage and open play space underneath the bunk loft. The beauty of a custom bunk is that—especially in guest rooms or secondary bedrooms that might be smaller or more awkwardly shaped—you can configure a built-in solution that maximizes the utility (and beauty!) of that room."
Another reason to look into a custom bunk bed design? Well, what you’re looking for might not exist, especially if you’re working with a super specific nook. "Arches are a big hit, and up until recently there really wasn't an arched bunk bed on the market," Veronika says. "I’ve seen a few custom ones." But passing trends aren't the only call for a custom design—you can even incorporate some of your little sleeper's favorite daytime activities into the space. "Sometimes people incorporate a climbing wall into their bunk bed, to satisfy little climbers," Veronika says. Sign us up.
What should people keep in mind when choosing bunk beds?
First and foremost, think about safety. "Read the reviews and look at the spec sheet," says Veronika. Specific things to look out for in the reviews: Is it stable or shaky? What's the weight limit? Is the ladder secure and safe? Does the top bunk have a tall enough guardrail (ideally on all sides)? In addition, look into the materials used to make the bunk bed and ensure that they are safe to keep around kids. Also, think about how active your young kids are. "For sleepers who move around a lot, a sturdy guardrail that runs across at least 70% the length of the upper bunk is crucial," says Noz.
Safety aside, there are a few other things you’ll want to consider too. "Besides ensuring you are confident in the safety rails, the most important thing is to also consider how minimal the annoyance will be to change the sheets on the top bunk," Noz continues. "I have discovered in my own cabin home—which has low ceilings and beams that come down right over the top bunk in our bunk room—that my husband's childhood bunk bed is quite tall! Changing the fitted sheets on the top bunk while navigating not bonking my head on the beam is often a literal headache."
That being said, don't forget to factor in your ceiling height!
"Minimum ceiling height is typically eight feet, but nine feet is better for bunk beds—though not as common unless you live in a charming prewar building with these extra high ceilings," says Veronika. "It's not a good idea to put a bunk bed into the basement with seven-foot ceilings."
It's also important to think through how the upper-bunk sleeper gets in and out of bed: Are they dexterous enough to get down on a ladder? Is a little staircase better? And, if you’re designing a custom bunk for your home, have you ensured there's enough head clearance for the height of the mattress you want to use, and for the (kid or adult) sleeper to sit up in bed?
The space between the top bunk and the ceiling isn't the only thing to think about. "Make sure there's plenty of clearance between the bottom bed and top bunk," says Veronika. "Some of them have super low clearance making it very uncomfortable and claustrophobic for sleepers and it may also be hard to sit on the bottom bunk and just play or read there."
By Erika Owen
By Rachel Davies
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And now that we’ve got some of the questions out of the way, let's jump into some designs we’ve got our eye on.
Veronika names this as one of her all-time favorite bunk beds for a number of reasons. "You can get a matching trundle bed, which is awesome if you need to accommodate three kids, or as an extra sleeping space for sleepovers," she says. "It also has a neat matching shelving unit that attaches to the bed. It's simple, minimalist, and sustainably made in Europe."
This design comes in two colors: white and washed natural, and black and natural walnut. The contrast of the ladder gives it a chic vibe, offering a bit more life than themed designs on the market. Veronika notes that this is "a more affordable version of the Oeuf Perch bed." You also have the option to add a trundle bed.
If you’re dealing with a low ceiling, we recommend considering a design that has the lower bunk sitting directly on the floor. A low bunk bed—like this one from West Elm—also has the power to make your ceilings look even higher. The Milo ultra-minimal bunk bed comes in two colors: the monochromatic "simply white," and another that comes with a "pebble-hued" upper bunk.
Alternatively, if you’ve got plenty of ceiling height and you want to make a statement, prepare to fall in love with this design from Sarah Sherman Samuel's collab with West Elm. "You will need to have the perfect disposition because it doesn't look like the ladder can be in another spot," says Veronika. "So make sure you have space to access the ladder on the right side."
This, right here, is the wood bunk bed of so many kids’ dreams. It's imaginative, evoking days of playing dress up and house. "It's something to inspire play," says Veronika, "but it requires sufficient ceiling height so may not work for every bedroom." This is to say, check your measurements and then get excited. It comes in three colors (white, brushed grey, and weathered navy) and doesn't lean too hard into the theme—the minimal silhouette will stand the test of time.
If you frequently have guests—both younger kids and adults—think about investing in a bunk bed that speaks to all ages. Settle your young visitors on the top bunk (which comes in a twin or full bed) and offer up the queen-size bed on the bottom for taller sleepers. We didn't think you could get two separate beds that are more different in a single design, but here we are.
If you’re on a tight budget and don't mind swapping solid wood for a metal bunk bed, take a look at this double-over-double bunk bed. With more than 4,500 reviews (averaging 4.5 stars out of 5), the construction is stable and the mattresses sit on top of sturdy metal slats. The metal frame is simple and sleek, meaning your sleepers won't age out of the design within months.
Sometimes buying into the bunk bed lifestyle isn't about having two beds—there are plenty of things to be done with the space that's saved when you loft a bed. This design from IKEA is tried-and-true, transforming the under-bed space into a workstation with tons of extra storage.
Available in five colors—espresso, natural, white, blue, and grey— and with two easy-access drawers for added storage space, there's a lot to love about this wood bunk designed for twin mattresses. The solid pine design doesn't require a box spring, which makes this a better choice for rooms with lower ceilings.
Sometimes two beds won't cut it…so opt for three (or more). You don't have to drop another bed on top to add sleeping space—make the most of a corner and invest in an L-shaped bunk bed station. This design from Homaapack even has drawers for added storage. The ultimate sleepover hub in our opinion.
Sleek and sculptural, this is a bunk bed design you won't feel tempted to ditch the moment your kid outgrows a twin-size bed. The best part? The minimal silhouette and color palette means it won't clash with an ever-changing room theme.So, how many types of bunk beds are there really? Are custom bunk beds a good investment? What should people keep in mind when choosing bunk beds? That being said, don't forget to factor in your ceiling height!