Space of the Week: This Stylish Sleeping Nook Features the Ultimate Bunk Beds for Adults

Laura Fenton, author of The Bunk Bed Book, shares her tips for grown-up bunks and lofts.

dark sage green bunk beds for adults with window and white curtains
Photo: Design by Dee Murphy; from The Bunk Bed Book by Laura Fenton

Bunk beds and lofted beds may conjure up memories of your childhood bedroom or your college dorm—but there's something comforting about these snug sleeping spaces that we never quite outgrow, no matter how old we get. "I maintain that everyone loves a bunk bed!" says Laura Fenton, author of The Bunk Bed Book, which features 115 bunks, lofts, and sleeping nooks, with designs for both kids and adults. "There is something about a cozy, closed-in sleeping nook that people find very appealing," she explains. Besides being nostalgic, bunk beds are a timeless way to save space in a small bedroom.

Before Los Angeles-based designer Dee Murphy made over this guest bedroom, featured in The Bunk Bed Book, a queen-size bed took up most of the room. To maximize the small space, Murphy asked if her parents, the most frequent visitors to the guest room, would be willing to sleep in bunk beds. With their go-ahead, she designed a sleeping nook that's convenient and comfortable for older adults, yet retains all the charm of the bunk beds we recall from childhood.

By the Numbers

Before building bunk beds for adults, check that your ceiling is at least 9 feet tall. "Headspace is especially important for adults; you need at least 36 inches between the top of the top mattress and the ceiling (or bottom of the top bunk)," Fenton says. You'll want to provide ample headspace so grown-up guests can sit upright in either bunk without banging their head.

Comfort Is Key

"Twin-sized beds are most comfortable for people who are under 6 feet tall. If your bunks will be used by taller adults, an extra-long twin or even full-sized bunk bed is the way to go," Fenton recommends. Keep in mind that a very low bottom bunk may be difficult for some people, especially older adults or those with knee problems, to get into and out of. Make sure the lower mattress of a bunk bed for adults is at least 24 inches above the floor.

closet alcove with dark sage green paint and botanical wallpaper
Design by Dee Murphy; from The Bunk Bed Book by Laura Fenton

Go for a Grown-Up Design

Rich green paint, paired with botanical wallpaper on the ceiling, lends style to the guest room. The open closet, outfitted with custom drawers and shelves by California Closets, continues the design scheme. By removing the closet door, this changing area feels more like an alcove than a separate space, helping to extend the tiny room.

Bunk Bed for Adults, Built-in Shelves
Design by Dee Murphy; from The Bunk Bed Book by Laura Fenton

Get the Look:

01 of 05

Pick Whimsical Wallpaper

Ornithology Bird Wallpaper
Milton & King

A busy scene of birds, bugs, and flowering branches presents a sophisticated take on the animal-themed wallpaper that adorned the walls of your childhood bedroom. Wallpapering the ceiling rather than the walls adds unexpected interest.

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Make the Beds

White and Gray Dot Sheet Set
Schoolhouse

Bed sheets with a subtle gray dotted design introduce soft texture to the space without competing with the green paint or bird-bedecked wallpaper.

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Add Some Night Lights

Metal Wrapped Sconce
Hudson Valley Lighting

Inspired by vintage luggage, these statement sconces are wrapped with thick metal bands. Each bunk is equipped with its own light fixture, so one guest can stay up late reading without disturbing their bunkmate.

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Set a Soft Landing

woven runner rug
Bed Bath & Beyond

In a petite bedroom, consider a narrow runner in place of a rug. This woven jute design is durable and easy to clean.

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Build Your Own Bunks

Bunk Bed Book Cover by Laura Fenton
Laura Fenton/Gibbs Smith/Benjamin Moore

Still debating adding a bunk bed to your guest room, your kid's room, or your family's vacation spot? You'll find endless inspiration in The Bunk Bed Book, which covers everything from towering triple bunks to bunk rooms to elegant sleeping nooks.

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