February 28, 2008
There was an old joke some years ago, it went something like this: A mom and dad tell their two kids that there will soon be an addition made to their family. The older kid speaks up and says, “Does this mean we’ll be getting a mini-van?” The same could be said of bunk beds. As one of the most efficient, space-saving designs, bunk beds are a clever way to maximize space in a way that’s both fun and functional. The concept of bunk beds began long ago as a way to conserve space in sea-going vessels, but it’s a concept that has transitioned well to the home market. Because most kids bedrooms are smaller than adults', it is not fair to cram them with a dresser, nightstand and bed.
The bunk bed often combines storage and a sleeping area in the same space usually occupied by a traditional bed. If you have one child, the extra bunk serves as an impromptu sleeping area for your child’s guest. As you add more children to your family, the bunk bed’s value as a space-saver increases, and even becomes a source of entertainment for make-believe and fosters creativity. When budgeting for your bunk beds, remember that you will save money by not having to buy additional furniture that may crowd your child’s bedroom.
There are so many new styles of bunk beds from which to choose. If you choose wisely, your purchase could last you and your child from pre-school through college. One of the most attractive features of bunk beds is that most can be split into two separate beds. This way, your child can enjoy the new bed, even if you don’t think they’re quite ready for the experience of sleeping in the top bunk. When your child is ready, pile the beds into the standard bunk bed arrangement. Some bunk beds have a desk built-in, or you may find that you now have enough space to add a desk to your child’s room. Quality bunk beds are virtually guaranteed to grow with your children’s needs, and you will also be able to resell the beds if and when your child decides he wants something else.
In addition to the traditional double-stacking twin bunk beds, futon bunk beds are a perfect way to make the most of a smaller space. Whether used in kids' rooms, dorm rooms, or guest rooms, futon bunk beds offer a great alternative because they feature a full-size thick futon on the bottom, and a twin-size bed on top. The futon can then be easily switched from a full-sized bed to a comfortable couch. This option offers great versatility. Futon beds also come in a variety of styles (solid wood or durable metal) and designs (just change their covers to get a new look for your room). Traditional loft bunk beds are also great for small spaces; these work best for kids’ sleepovers and for families who have two or more children sharing a room.
When is the best time for your child to begin using their bunk bed? Well before they are ready for the stacked bunk bed, children can be introduced to the concept. Today’s stacked bunk beds are suitable for children ages 5 and above, but you will be the best judge of when the appropriate time is for your child. Typically, however, the best indicator of whether your child is ready for a bunk bed is if your child is able to safely navigate the bunk bed’s ladder. It’s not enough that your child can climb up the ladder, which is usually no problem for an active child, but teach your child that climbing down can sometimes be challenging. If you are there to provide encouragement and guidance, this should be a easy task to master.
In fact, kids will take so quickly to learning how to climb into their bed that it will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment. They will love going to their special, cool place where they can exercise their imagination. Many styles of bunk beds help to build on this activity by offering themed bunk beds: such as castles or rocket ships. These offer kids another break from television and video games, and perhaps a quiet sanctuary where they can curl up with their favorite book.
Don VanPelt is a writer for Bunk Beds Central who has published many articles about various types of bunk beds. Read his comments and recommendations for the best places to buy bunkbeds.