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A Girl’s Loft Bed with Ladder and Lighted Workspace Underneath

Gary in Texas built this OP Loftbed for his daughter. He added a lot of extra touches and shared a lot of details and tips. We’re happy to share both Gary’s craftsmanship and tips with our readers. He says:

This was my first significant wood working project, but it turned out great! I built this for my 8 year old daughter Claire and she (and all of her friends) love it. I built a simple ladder (thanks google for the ideas) to make it easier for her to get up top (a plunge router and a good protractor made that job straight-forward). I also got inspired to hard-wire in two LED under-counter lights that I purchased at Lowes along with some lamp wire and a male plug. One light over the couch on one end and one over her desk at the other end. They actually produce very nice light (I was uncertain about using LEDs). I hid the wires using thin plastic conduit that had an adhesive backing and I painted it the same color as the dark purple frame. I’ve never installed lights like that before, but it turned out to be really simple. My wife added a curtain with a cheap $5 dollar rod we bought at Walmart to help hide the computer and give her a little hide-away.

I used a two-tone purple paint scheme with dark purple on the main frame features (legs and side-boards) and an almost white-purple (same as her walls) for the supporting cross members to make the cross members disappear a little in the background and make the frame stand out (and make the room look less full because it’s such a large structure in her small room). Originally I was going to stain the bed, but I used a soft pine wood and I just couldn’t get the stain to go on light enough and I had problems w/ blotches – even used wood conditioner to prevent this. So I gave up and painted. Ultimately, I am much happier that I painted because I think it works better with the colors in her room. The other important thing I learned: use shellac to cover up those knots! I could see them bleeding through the primer the day after I primed them. After I applied shellac, no more bleed through.

It’s a simple design, but I’m impressed with how great it looks and how sturdy it is (it’s build like tank!). My son is now convinced he needs one too :-)
Thanks!
Gary

Thanks for sharing these photos with us, Gary. You did a wonderful job and we’re sure many of our other customers will appreciate the tips you shared too.

Click on the pictures below to enlarge them. For more pictures of customer’s loft beds, visit out photo gallery.

7 Responses to “A Girl’s Loft Bed with Ladder and Lighted Workspace Underneath”

  1. This bed is amazing, my 13 year old is begging for one for her new room that she will get at Christmas this year!!!! Thanks for the post, very inspiring!!!

    Can you tell me what size bed (twin, full, queen, ?) is on the top?

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

  2. Cheri – The bed here appears to be a full-size tall height OP Loftbed loft bed.

  3. This is truly an amazing bed. I’m curious as to where you found the plans for the ladder online. I too am building this bed (full size/tall) for my daughter for Christmas and can not find plans anywhere for a ladder like this. I don’t want anything flimsy and I don’t want anything too complex like stairs. Thank you for your response.

  4. Hi Michelle, I had to look around a bit for the ladder plans. I too was concerned about stability, durability and complexity (I wanted simple). In the end, I ended up adapting and simplifying some plans for a dock ladder (link below). This may be more complicated than what you’re looking for (or I may be making it more complicated than it is ;-) I will admit up front there are probably better ways to do what I did (this was my first attempt at using a router and really, doing any of this :-)

    In my opinion, the resulting ladder is extremely sturdy. I’m about 180 lbs and it doesn’t move, creak or otherwise flinch when I climb it.

    Here are the plans for the dock ladder i mentioned above which give you some good background information around how to approach things. I add my own modifications below.

    http://cdn.cottagelife.com.s3.amazonaws.com/files/2011/05/Swim-Ladder-Plan.pdf

    Materials:
    2 – 8′ 2×6 (for the legs)
    1 – 10′ 2×6 (for the 6 steps)
    Scrap 1×2 or similar for the step jig
    Scrap 2×6 to practice on to get the jig right
    Box of bronze coated outdoor wood screws 9×3 (bought at Lowes)
    2 2×8 wood screws to mount the ladder to the bed.
    2 1″ sheet metal screws
    2 nuts for the 1″ sheet metal screws
    6 washers
    Latex caulk – to fill in the joints around the steps. Purely cosmetic.
    Latex Primer
    Latex Paint
    2 L brackets
    Felt (to put between the bed and the ladder – if you care)

    Tools:
    Plunge Router
    A good (accurate) protractor – do not go cheap. trust me :-) I used a digital one. (bought at Lowes)
    Mitre saw (a circular saw works well too)

    The legs:
    The legs are cut 82″ long.

    The slots in each leg:
    I used a router to route 6 “slots” 1/2″ deep and 1 1/2″ wide in each leg (for the 6 steps). Each slot is 12″ from the bottom of one slot to the bottom of the next slot. Each step slot has a 74.5 degree angle.

    I measured and marked off with a pencil the bottom of each of the step slots along one side of each of the leg boards. I didn’t bother to mark both sides of each leg board because I built a jig that just needed to line up with the initial marks to cut the slots. The jig was built out of some scrap 1×2 boards I had laying around and was held together with a few of the screws that I used for the steps. The jig was made of 4 boards (visualize a parallelogram) set at the 74.5 angle for the small angle and just the right width to route a 1 1/2″ wide slot (you size the width of the jig based on your router base). The end result allowed me to clamp the jig to the board (and a work-bench) and route the slot without thinking too much.

    Note: Getting the jig just right took some trial and error on some scrap 2×6 wood. It’s much easier (and less frustrating) to practice and screw-up on scrap wood.

    Once I got one leg fully routed, I reversed the jig’s angle to 105.5 degrees (or put another way, 74.5 degrees going the other direction) for the other leg. Note: you cannot simply turn the jig around or flip it over to cut the other steps. I tried that. You must take it apart and re-attach it so that the new parallelogram slants 74.5 degrees in the opposite direction. If that doesn’t make sense, try marking some lines on the second leg using the jig and then lay it up against the first leg you cut. Make sure the slots are going the right direction!

    Also, before you start cutting the second leg, line it up with the first leg and make sure the first leg’s slots line up with your bottom slot marks on the second leg. Measure twice (or more) and cut once.

    After the slots in both legs are cut, I drilled pilot holes for the screws through the slots. I think this takes the guess-work out later and makes driving the screws easier. After drilling the pilot holes, I used a countersink bit to countersink the screw holes as well so that the screws screw in nicely below the surface of the wood.

    I used a mitre saw (circular saw works too) to cut the bottom of the legs at 74.5 degrees (same as the steps).

    To cut the semi-circle curve at the top of the leg, I measured down a few inches from the top (will vary based on your router base) and put a wood screw in-between the two sides of the leg. Then I used the router butted up against the wood screw to guide it to cut the semi-circle (I cut half semi-circle on one side and flipped the leg over and cut the other half).

    The rest is fairly easy. Screw the steps to the two legs.

    To mount the ladder to the bed:
    (and I highly recommend this for safety reasons)
    The first part is purely speculative. I cut and glued some felt to the back side of the ladder where it would contact the bed. I figured this would prevent any noise from weight shifting against the ladder and the bed. This is probably completely unecessary.

    I used 2 L brackets. You can bend them to fit the angle of the ladder to the bed. I mounted the L bracket to the plywood sheet (I thought this would be more secure than mounting it to the 2×6 cross-beam on the bed). I drilled all the way through the plywood and put used the washers on either side of the screw going thru the L bracket and the plywood, and finally a nut on the bottom side to secure it. I screwed the 2×8 screws thru the L bracket into the ladder. Should be very secure after tightening everything up.

    Good luck!

  5. about how long did this take to make – start to finish? im thinking about building one for my daughter the week after xmas…a belated xmas present…

  6. I’d really like to make this for my son. He doesn’t like heights much but I’m thinking if I made this not quite so high the bed would be perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Greg, I worked on it on-and-off for a couple of months. But all said, it probably took me about 40 hours. It would have been significantly less if I had purchased high quality lumber that was nice and straight. I messed up and bought low grade lumber with a lot of knots and splinters and some warping, and I had to spend a lot more time sanding and priming to fix that.

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