Beds for small spaces

No space too small is a column by Laura Fenton that celebrates the idea that you can live well in a small house. Each month, Laura will share her hands-on findings from years of observing how people live in confined spaces and her everyday experiences of living small, from finding the perfect tiny desk to how to handle everyday clutter.


Fast: where will you find the biggest payout in the small space? In the kitchen? A wardrobe system? Any genius home office hacks? Take a look at your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a luxurious four-bedroom apartment, and ask yourself: which piece of furniture takes up the most space within your four walls?

Unless you sleep on a cot, the answer is your bed. As of January 2022, Manhattan real estate costs an average of $ 1,612 per square foot, which means that here in my hometown, one borough away, the 28 square feet of space needed for a full-sized bed are worth more than $ 45,000! A queen? More than $ 53,000. A king? $ 68,000.

When I previously wrote about children’s bedrooms in No Space Too Small, I gave advice on everything but the bed. However, if the budget allows, I do advocate of investing in a bed that makes the most of the space it occupies, such as a Murphy bed, storage bed or bunk bed. (In fact, I’m so passionate about the importance of beds in small spaces, I’ve written a whole book on creative sleeping, The bunk bed book.)

Here are five types of smart beds for small spaces and tips on how to use them:

Photo by Weston Wells

Beds with drawers

A bed frame with built-in drawers is a great way to make use of your sleeping space. In my apartment, I have a wooden captain’s bed with six drawers built into the frame, which allows my husband and I to store all our folded clothes right in our tiny bedroom without the need for a chest of drawers. Storage beds are also great for guest bedrooms because you can store room linens in drawers and let your guests use the office drawers. In a child’s room, a bed with drawers can hold toys. In fact, we recently replaced our child’s basic IKEA bed with a two-size storage bed with three large drawers, so he can store his toys more neatly under the bed.

Photo of Ikea

Raisable container beds

A mattress frame with a lift-up design and storage underneath, such as IKEA’s Malm storage bed, is another labor-intensive storage option. However, you need to know that this style is more practical for storing things that you only need to access occasionally and not your everyday wardrobe. I’ve personally never had one of these, but one of the homeowners from my first book did (he had all his holiday decorations – even the tree! – hidden in his), as did my roommate. long-ago sister (kept her off-season clothes and luggage under hers).

Photo by Erin Boyle

Photo of Freccia Bianca

Bunk beds

If you have multiple kids and limited bedrooms, bunk beds are a proven solution (and a topic I explore in depth in my new book). Nowadays, bunk beds come in all sizes, such as twin over full or triple L-shaped models, so there is a design to suit every family’s needs. Not only do bunk beds save space and give kids more room to play, there’s something about being closed that just feels comforting. Again and again, when I interviewed families for my book, the parents told me that their children used their bunks as a place to retreat. Bunk beds are fun too. With the help of a child’s imagination, a berth quickly becomes a house, fort, sailing ship, and more.

Photo by Maria Del Rio

Loft beds

If you have generous ceiling height, as my first apartment in New York did, a loft can have two “rooms” in the space of one. I sneaked shelves and a desk under the loft bed in my old bedroom. If you’re building your own loft, don’t feel constrained by the size of the mattresses. My loft was an awkward size, but instead of sleeping on a smaller single mattress, I had a foam mattress cut somewhere in the middle of a two single and a double bed, and I just tucked a fitted bottom sheet in to make the bed. Some practical considerations: A loft bed should be at least 52 inches high underneath to sit comfortably on a desk and a minimum of 68 inches to stand upright. Above, you’ll want 30 inches from the top of the mattress to the ceiling to give you room to sit comfortably.

Photo by Weston Wells

Photo by Weston Wells

Wall beds

Also known as Murphy beds, wall-mounted beds are a godsend for small spaces. In my early twenties, I invested in a Murphy bed for a 225-square-foot studio. With the foldaway bed I had both a living and sleeping area in my single room. Murphy beds are also useful for families who want to stay in a loved home after the children arrive. My sister and her husband spent three years sleeping on one in the living room of their one bedroom apartment, giving their children the bedroom. And my friend Alison Mazurek, 600 square feet and a toddler, spent seven (!) Years in her bedroom thanks to a queen Murphy bed in the living room and Murphy bunk beds in her nursery. Murphy beds are often an investment of a thousand dollars or more but, remind yourself, they are a small fraction of the cost of a larger home.

Photo by Laura Fenton

In the meantime, make up your current bed

A new bed may be something to consider for the future, but in the meantime, consider upgrading the storage space under your current bed. Room & Board makes high quality swivel drawers designed to fit under their own beds, but if you have the right height, they can fit under any old bed. The washerwoman sells a bag under the bed in 100% cotton canvas which I also like. I’m generally not a fan of anything with an open top under a bed (hello, dust!), But we used the Container Store wooden bins to store toys under my son’s bed before moving on to a container bed. adequate. If you can’t squeeze anything under your bed, you may be able to lift it up on the risers to make room for storage. You could also add a storage headboard to an existing bed without a headboard.

One last thing! Remember how your bed takes up more space in your home? It is also taking more visual space. How you dress up your bed will have a big impact on how your room feels. If you don’t already, get into the habit of making your bed every day and do it carefully! Your bedroom will instantly feel more finished with a freshly made bed, and one study has even suggested that people who regularly make their beds sleep well at night more often than those who don’t.

Which of these small space bed solutions would you consider? Tell us in the comments.

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