Our Kids' Free Upcycled Quadruple Bunk Bed

I had all sorts of plans for beds for my kids in our new home. We specifically designed the outlets and doors in the bedroom with the plan that we'd have a set type of beds that would be able to sleep all four of our kids. We were going to have 4 beds, in the shape of an L, with the ends overlapping each other- a four tiered bunk bed with two beds along each wall. 

We got to the new home, and for a few days, my kids slept on mattresses on the floor while we brought over the furniture and slowly got it put together. However, when we went to put it together, my kids didn't want what we'd planned, and I wasn't sure it would work so well either.

Instead, we ended up making beds for four (or even five if you want to get technical) all on top of each other, which saved even more room. The kids are loving it, and I'm loving how space efficient it is, but the biggest perk was the cost.

We spent nothing.

When we were planning our move, my mother, whose kids now have all moved out, offered me the bunk bed my sister Violet and I had growing up. When Violet and I grew up, it then passed on to my two younger brothers, Abe and Dan. But now Abe is married and Dan is getting married in a few weeks and my mother doesn't need this bunk bed anymore in her home, and she knew it would get a good home in ours. Despite it being at least 15 years old, it is in pretty decent condition.

Putting it together was a cinch- we just had to screw some screws together in the predetermined holes, and we had a beautiful bunk bed. However, we needed more than just two beds. So we took the loft bed we'd built for our boys in our old house, and repurposed it here. We screwed the legs of the loft bed onto this bed, securing it very well, but had to lower the mattress so that the top kid had enough room. Moving the loft bed we took the legs and guard rail off but kept the bed frame together, so we simply put the bed frame back on the legs, in the new position, and then screwed on the guard rail and adjusted the heights of the legs for the ladder.
This bed is very strong and stable, but for safety's sake needed to be secured to the wall for extra precautions.

Though the bunk bed I grew up with came with three drawers that fit under the bottom bed, we decided to opt out of putting them there once we saw that it was a perfect fit for another mattress. 

We got the mattresses hand me down as well, and they aren't all the same size- the one for the top bunk is a perfect fit for the narrower frame, and the middle bed is a little wider than the mattress on it, but when the bed is made you can't really tell, so it doesn't bug me. 
For the bottom bed, we have an extra wide mattress that actually sleeps two adults comfortably (in my opinion, anyhow), so for now we're having the two girls sleep on it, since they don't take up so much room, and are used to co-sleeping. (Rose ends up in my bed most nights as it is, and Anneliese often ends up in our bed too.) They don't mind sharing that extra large mattress, but for when they do start minding, we have the mattress at the bottom for them to use. (For now it is an extra one to sleep guests that don't mind that. My brother Dan slept on it last night.)

My old bunk beds came with shelves at the end which my kids can use to store their own personal things, but Lee, who sleeps on the top, doesn't have that. We do plan on building a shelf for him up there on the bed.

Is this perfect? No. My kids' bed has a staggered look since the top bunk is narrower than the rest, and it is two different colors. At some point we may rebuild the wider bed so that it all is a uniform width, but who knows. We do plan on painting the beds so they look more uniform, but we decided that while painting is important to us, the first priority is getting all the furniture built, and finding a home for everything, and then we can think about painting the furniture we already have. The color scheme for the kids' room will probably be grey and blue (probably cerulean), and we'll paint both the bunk beds and the furniture to match. And after we do that, I hope to get matching bedding for them, but that is a slow process.

All in all, this bed cost us nothing other than what we already had in the house, and it is so space efficient that despite sleeping 4 kids in the bedroom, there is plenty of floor space for the kids to play, as well as lots of room to store all their toys and clothes and books and art supplies and even a computer desk.

How many kids do you have, and how many bedrooms? How many is the most kids you have had to fit in a bedroom, and what did you do to make their bedrooms more space efficient? Have you ever seen a bunk bed that sleeps 4 before? How did it look?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I have one kid so is not really an issue for me but I love how you refurbished everything to suit your needs. I am big on that. Once you get it painted with matching bedding its going to look even better.

  2. That's an awesome bed. We currently have way more beds than we use, due to the fact that in order to be adoption certified you have to have a bed for every person, but two of our kids co-sleep... Sooo, we have 4 kids, 5 beds, and regularly use three of them. It does mean that it is easy to host people, though! All of our beds we have gotten for free as handmedowns, so I don't feel bad about the extra beds, and if our family keeps growing we'll fill them eventually!

  3. Why do you want all the kids to sleep in one room?

  4. Two kids, two bedroom house. We have a bunk bed we bought used off of a local facebook yard sale group. It's a full on the bottom and twin on top with stairs at one end, and drawers under the stairs and under the bottom bed.

    It's a little big for the room. There are only 2 wall choices that would fit, and it means that we can't really get the drawers at the end of the bed open easily. (You can open them if you are standing on the side but there's only 2 feet to the wall.)

    Works though.

    I haven't seen a 4 person bunk, unless you count Navy berthing. Even then I think it was only 3. There are lots of pictures on the internet of space efficient sleep arrangements.

    Like this one was pretty cool:


    I also like this one:


    When we lived in graduate family student housing (with very small rooms), one of our neighbors had 4 kids. They had a bunk bed with trundle (like what you have, the mattress slid out from under the bottom bunk) and a crib.

  5. Is there a safety issue for the middle bed as it is without rails?

  6. Only one kid here too but since you have 4 kids of which 2 are girls...aren't you concerned about them all sharing one room?

  7. Honestly, it looks Jerry-rigged and potentially dangerous. I understand being frugal, but not at the expense of your children's safety. The top bed especially worries me. I would have put that one on the floor. The kids might have less room to play, but at least there's less potential for an accident. Just looking at it makes me uncomfortable.

    1. The top one got me very nervous too, but when she said it was all secured into the wall I felt better about it. I do think the second bed needs a real rail though.

  8. Nice. We had a bunkbed that also pulled out to a trundle on one side and a bed with a trundle on the other side. When we moved we decided there were too many beds taking up too much room and we wanted to put in a desk. I wanted to be able to sit with the kids on a bed and couldn't do that on the bottom bunk. So, we got rid of the single trundle and stook apart the bunk bed and made the top a loft and positioned the bottom one like an el underneath and put a hangout chair under the top bunk which can be removed when we pull out the trundle to sleep a third. Then there was room for a desk on the other wall.

  9. I currently have 5 ka'h in one room, with room for a 6th when the baby iyH moves out of my room. I have two standard bunkbeds, on parallel walls and a crib on a third wall. One of the bunkbeds has a pullout drawer that can either have a mattress for a trundle bed or storage. I currently have storage in there, but when I move my baby into the bedroom I'll move my toddler out of the crib and into that trundel 'drawer'. I've looked into buying or creating triple bunkbeds, but we live in a basement apartment, so the ceilings are too low. The room is fairly spacious, so even with sleeping accommodations for 6, I also have a reclining love seat on the wall of one bunkbed and a table with chairs on the wall with the other bunkbed. Plus I have shelves with toys. I don't keep any of the kids clothing in their room, it's all stored in dressers in my room. There is still a nice amount of floor space, but when the trundel bed is in use and open that does cut out a chunk of it.

  10. Penny, it looks great! I am glad the kids are happy with the set up. You are really making a wonderful family home.
    I knew a family whose four kids shared a room and it worked fine.
    Some of the other commenters may want send out a search party for their manners!

    1. Please show me where anyone said something rude. Some of us politely pointed out that this setup did not look safe. I didn't realize that only comments wholeheartedly praising the blogger were allowed.

    2. Jay,
      I don't make the rules here as it is not my blog. However, since you ask, I did find your jerry-rigged comment rude. It is pretty hard to do a reliable inspection from a photo. I prefer to trust that the loving parents tested the safety. I also believe protecting children from every possible risk or failure is not all that healthy in the long run.
      But, hey, thanks for having a go at me, since I didn't call anyone out specifically I can only guess you realized your well intentioned comment was rude, too.
      May your children be completely safe from everything.
      Merry Christmas!

    3. No, patty, I don't think my comment was rude at all. It was pretty obvious that you were referring to the few comments that didn't just say "That looks great!" And of course you can't protect children from every single thing. Such a straw man argument. What has that fact got to do with my opinion that the bed doesn't look safe? Whatever, have a nice life, I'm done chatting with you.

  11. Penny, I was wondering if safety is a cause for concern since with the extra weight of the loft bed and an extra body, wouldn't it be too much stress on the wood? I've only dealt with metal bunk beds for adults and even then, they sunk quite a bit with the weight of one person.

  12. I have 3 bedrooms and 2 kiddos. They each have their own room, but my mom grew up with 6 sisters and one brother in a 3 bedroom house. The girls all had to share their own room and it was just normal for them. And at one point when I was a teenager, my older brother and I shared a room. We would just change in the bathroom. We were best friends then and best friends now :)

  13. Forgive my eyes, but I only see three beds. I see what looks like a carpet under the bottom bed, but that is where you said fifth bed is. Where is fourth?

  14. Also. I don't see how in the world your brother fit under bottom bunk..Please explain the photos better. I'm the only dunce here must not see it. Very good idea though. I love it.

  15. I think you did a great job putting the bed together, it looks very sturdy. It would definitely look a lot nicer with a coat of paint and some new bedding. In the post about your new living room, you mentioned how it was so much more inviting and made you feel happy because everything matched and you were no longer living with someone else's cast offs. I hope the kids would eventually be able to feel that way about their room.

  16. It does look nice and space efficient, but I would want to be certain that putting the loft on top isn't going to put too much weight on the bunk bed, especially since the loft bed's weight isn't distributed evenly onto the bunk bed's corner posts on the one side.

  17. I love this blog, but this post made me sad. Not only do those beds look terrible, but are absolutely not safe. The top bed is too high from the floor. Please invest in sleeping your children safely Penny.

  18. Sorry I havent had a chance to respond to comments sooner; I've been under the weather and been overwhelmed by construction, etc...
    As for safety of the kids' beds, I find it interesting that so many assumptions have been made about these beds vis a vis their safety when I did not share any dimensions nor plans, only a few pictures (that aren't even close ups). I have checked with professionals in person who have assertained their safety. So you can rest assured, I am not doing anything to endanger my kids- of course safety comes first.
    As for looks- once it is all painted a uniform color and they have matching bedsheets (that is next in the plan), it'll look much more asthetic.
    As for the kids "having space", unfortunately at this time this is the space we have to work with, but hopefully in the future our finances will improve and we'll be able to have more space available to live and our kids won't feel as cramped. But those of you who feel cramped looking at this, you're forgetting that we just doubled our apartment size so our kids are currently feeling like this is very spacious- it is all a matter of perspective, and it doesnt bother the kids the way it bothers some of you.
    As for why I dont just give up the extra bedroom and turn it into another kids room, as someone who works from home and whose husband does a lot of DIY things, we have made that room into a home office instead of my working in the living room, inconveniencing everyone and making it really hard for me to work effectively (and my bedroom, as the smallest room in the house, is far too small to be used as an office as well). Additionally, my husband's work tools are currently in the other room/work room/guest room, whose door we keep locked when not in use, as it wouldn't be safe to have the kids in there with all the power tools.

  19. I grew up in a tiny house with four girls sharing, (one set of bunk beds) so no issue with that part. The weight this has on it isn't what it was designed for.... Securing it to a wall is one stopgap, but I agree the whole thing seems cobbled. "Professionals" or not, this looks like an accident waiting to happen. Sorry if you see that as criticism, but I believe many of us just see this as frugal being taken too far. Maybe consider a pullout couch for one of your kiddos some day. Good luck.

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