August 21, 2011

Mission Impossible: Bunk Bed Shopping on a Budget

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Find a budget-friendly twin-over-twin size sturdy bunk bed made of really real wood that is appropriately sized for a small bedroom and younger school-aged children without screaming, cursing, gnashing your teeth OR divorcing your spouse.

Go ahead, I dare you to try.

About two months ago I started shopping around for bunk beds. I like to consider all of my options before making a large furniture purchase, so I started window shopping online through some well known retail stores.

How adorable is this little set up? 

Kendall Bunk Beds at Pottery Barn Kids
Up to 4 kids happily sharing one room in organized peace and harmony?  Bright white, beachy and light?  I can work with this.  Until I read the (gulp) $1200 price tag + $150 delivery surcharge + $120 shipping + sales tax.  Not exactly affordable.

A similar style of bunk bed is also sold through Land of Nod, a company I've shopped with before and can highly recommend for outstanding customer service and mostly top-notch quality goods.  The bedding/decor is not our style, but the classic bed design could work well in our home.
White Simple Bunk at Land of Nod
With several glowing customer reviews, this appears to be a lovely and well made piece of furniture.  In home delivery and assembly along with outstanding customer service?  I'm on board with that.  Are you ready for this?  $1500 price tag + $169 delivery charge.  ACK!

The kiddos will have to sleep in these beds until they're 35 for me to justify a $1500 set of bunk beds.

The next shopping option that comes to mind is good old Craigslist.  In theory it's always possible, if you're patient and lucky, to find a great deal on a gently used piece of furniture that will fit your needs. 

Here's a small sample representing the bulk of what is listed locally.  Even factoring in the possibility of negotiating a lower price, not such a great deal considering the "used" condition (missing hardware, stickers, wear & tear), the time and effort involved in going to see the bed(s), interacting with weirdos, transporting the bed home and reassembling.

So after several weeks of dedicated internet research, we took a trip to Ikea.  

The last resort for desperate parents with small bank accounts, small children and small houses.  You always see these folks in the kiddie section of the store.  You know who I'm talking about.  Hassled looking husband, pregnant lady, small kids in tow.

We are now *those people*.
Mydal Bunk Bed (L) & Norddal Bunk Bed (R) at IKEA
The bunk bed designs are simple, both offer a built-in ladder which saves valuable floor space AND the price tags are reasonable (Mydal: $159 & Norddal: $299).  Add the instant gratification of same day purchase and the ability to save on delivery charges by transporting home yourself, we were ALMOST sold.

Until we tried out the beds in person.  These beds are quite, er, petite and, well, almost rickety.  Lots of wobble.  Especially the Mydal.  And the black stained wood of the Norddal gave me hives.  When it comes to "design" I am completely incapacitated by the color black.  Both styles of bed frame would need to be sanded and re-finished in a different color to work in Bedroom #2.

We spent some time crouched on the bottom bunks in this section of the store frantically tossing ideas back and forth.  The Boy ran face first into a particle board cabinet door and gave himself a bloody lip.  It was a special kind of mayhem.  So we're now the hassled looking husband and pregnant lady with small bloody kids in tow arguing about sanding bunk beds. 

We're thinking: the price is right and we could bring it home tonight.  We could reinforce the frame to make it sturdier.  We could add wood & hardware, here, here AND here.  We could sand and paint the frame.  We could...easily spend another $100 to turn this "reasonably priced" bunk bed frame into something that we sort of LIKE.

We could also bite the bullet, punch the easy button and fork over $1500+ for a very very nice bunk bed that someone else delivers and assembles and carts away the packaging.

But if YOU know US, you know THAT'S not going to happen.


  1. I'd be very weary these days of buying used furniture off of Craig's List. Bed bugs. It's a HUGE problem. Need I say more?

  2. Don't. Do. It.
    Avoid the weirdos at all costs!!!!!!!

  3. What about building it yourselves a la Ana White?

    Am eager to see how it turns out!

  4. Is making them sleep on the floor an option or would that be considered cruel and unusual punishment?! How about those inflatable beds. Oh maybe not a good idea what with the sudden bouncing out of the nearest window. Well, good luck with your search. Wish I could be of more help!

  5. From the looks of that last picture it seems building it yourself might be exactly what you've got in mind! Can't wait to see how it turns out!

  6. I was going to suggest checking out Ana White too! My Husband and I have had great success converting some of her plans to build our own table and bench, each for less than $100 and a weekend.

    Can't wait to see where this goes!

  7. So no on Boy Scout cots then?

    I kid, I kid.

    My sister and I shared a really well-made solid wood bunk set as kids. It got passed down in the family to cousins - it's probably still floating out there somewhere. We were poor growing up so those expensive beds were never an option. I think we got most of our new furniture from JCPenny.

  8. Fascinating discussion of the mission to acquire a bunk bed. I do suggest avoiding CraigsList if you are a woman without weapons. Lots of strange people on there stalking women. My wife was happily in contact with one with the email address "bitingteeth" for a while...she barely missed him which is lucky for us both.

  9. Stumbled on this blog was considering the Ikea Norddal myself I checked out Anna White and Hubby and I decided to build it ourselves so thank you.

  10. So what did you do? The post just ends...

  11. Happened upon your bunk beds on pinterest.I have been on the bunk bed hunt also!I think we've shopped the same Craigslist by the looks of those pics.After seeing the ones your husband made,I think I've conviced my husband to do the same. Thanks for sharing,Tami

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  13. Find a budget-friendly twin-over-twin size sturdy bunk bed made of really real wood that is appropriately sized for a small bedroom and younger school-aged children without screaming, cursing, gnashing your teeth OR divorcing your spouse.

  14. Okay, now you need to come back and report on your results post-purchase!

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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