Whether you plan to host guests some of the time or all of the time, you may want to incorporate a bunk room into your cabin’s design. But when designing a room that needs to be big on function, how do you create a space that’s equally fabulous? Michael Grant, residential designer at Modern Rustic Homes in Ellijay, Georgia, shares his pro pointers for building a smart, stylish bunk room.
Room Requirements. A uniquely shaped room in your home could be a useful bunk space, but you’ll probably want to opt for built-ins over free-standing bunks. “If you’re working with a sloped ceiling, you can build a bottom bunk that’s a full mattress, so that it nests further under the roof than the top bunk, which would be a twin bed,” Grant explains.
You also can create bunks that were actually elevated above the sloped ceiling of a room below. “It’s a little bit different kind of bunk, but you can use the additional space below to build in drawer storage,” he adds. Another option: bunk closets. “If you have space in your plan to include a room that’s 5-by-8 feet or even 4-by-8 feet, you can include a set of bunks behind bifold doors,” says Grant. “You open up the doors, and it’s almost like a sleeping coach on a train where the mattress is right up against the doorway.” To keep the space private while letting air in, you can choose louvered bifold doors instead of solid wood doors.
Measurements Matter. “The bunk bed stack itself is going to be really contingent on how high the ceilings are,” Grant explains. He suggests about 30 inches minimum between the top of the mattress and the bottom of the bunk above or the ceiling to prevent claustrophobia.
“If you’re designing a room where you want to do a three-tier bunk as opposed to a two-tier bunk, you can get away with fewer inches between bunks, but it really shouldn’t be any less than 24 inches,” he states.
Storage Solutions. If you plan to occupy the majority of your bunk room at least a few times a year, it’s necessary to plan for enough storage to accommodate your guests’ belongings. According to Grant, a drawer per bunk bed is good rule of thumb for storage. Depending on what style bunks you choose — built-in or free-standing — you can either build in drawers or incorporate a chest of drawers (or two) into your layout. (If you opt for the latter, be sure to account for plenty of walkway space when deciding on the room’s square footage.)
Also think about adding hooks to the walls and the back of doors. “Remember that this space is meant to be utilitarian,” Grant urges. “Keep it basic and functional, so it’s a place kids or guests can go to really enjoy themselves without feeling cramped and cluttered.”
Location, Location, Location. As far as location goes, you’ll probably want to position your bunk room on the opposite side of the house from the log cabin master bedroom. “That room is going to be for children who like to be noisy or large groups of guests, so you’ll want to put it in its own wing or even on a lower level to isolate the sound,” Grant says.
Illumination Issues. Because of the amount of furniture, it’s easy for a bunk room to feel dark and dungeon-like. To avoid this, include a variety of home lighting sources to make the room comfortable and functional. Table space might be at a minimum in this type of room, so take advantage of overhead ambient fixtures. Also keep in mind that closed-in, lower-level bunks will likely be light deficient, so consider including well-placed sconces inside the actual bunk or on the wall next to it to illuminate the space for reading and to avoid bumped heads. Natural light also is necessary, so think about installing windows in odd spots on the wall if you know a bunk is going there. Adding a quirky little window inside a bunk space can add light and visual interest to the space.