It is a fact that the average person spends one third of their life asleep, in their bed. So when considering a bedroom remodel, it is only natural to think of the bed in terms of sleeping. Closet space is usually at a premium, overflowing with clothes, linens and shoes. But with careful planning, particularly in a spare bedroom, you can maximize available space for storage and organization so that the room is always neat and uncluttered. Here are a few under bed storage ideas to keep in mind.
To begin with, start with the actual bed itself. There are choices in type of bed which will dictate what type of storage is available. Historically, it is only relatively recently that everyone sleeps in a bed; a room dedicated to a permanent bed was the province of only the wealthy. Benches, kitchens, alcoves and blankets on the floor were more common. These days, in a small home or confined bedroom, you have the option of a convertible sofa bed, fold out futon, and a Murphy bed.
Invented in the nineteenth century by William L. Murphy, these were used in many hotels, motels and apartments and conjure up visions of low rent dives and squeaky springs to most people. More up to date and comfortable versions are now on the market, which greatly improve upon the old ones. Murphy beds fold away into the wall, and can be either built-in to the residence, or a cabinet version which attaches to the wall, the latter being more easy and inexpensive to incorporate in a remodel.
Another non-traditional bed alternative is a platform or loft bed. These permanently raise the sleeping surface up into the air, like a bunk bed without the bottom bed, freeing up floor space. Platform beds are placed on top of a bed-sized structure, either high enough to require a ladder to reach, or low, sitting on top of cabinets and drawers.
Loft beds are made on top of an additional floor built into the room. Since it is built into the house structure, it is more permanent than a platform bed, which is often sitting atop removable furniture. You need a room with extra high ceilings, as there should be at least 6 feet of space below the finished loft and 4 feet above; this varies with local building codes, of course. The loft can be built across the entire side of a room, or supported on one end or corner by posts.
Storage Ideas for Under the Bed
A related from of the platform bed is called a Captain’s Bed. This is a bed that has a mattress supported not by a standalone frame but by a boxed platform which contains storage drawers or cabinets. Depending on where in the room a captain’s bed is placed, there are many variations in its design. The support structure can have drawers that pull out from a side or an end of the bed, or even both sides or ends.
A more long term under bed storage idea is created by having fixed sides to the structure so that access to the space within is gained by lifting the mattress and it’s underlying hinged support. Either way, captain’s beds are great for storing blankets and other bedding, linens, and seasonal clothing.
The other approach to under bed storage is to use roll-out drawers which fit underneath a traditional bed. The only requirement is that the bed sits high enough off the floor to give adequate clearance for stored items. You can purchase ready-made under-bed chests, roll-out trays and drawers made from a range of materials such as wood, cardboard, pressboard, metal or plastic. Under bed storage systems that match closet storage systems are available as well, with some of these you can exchange modular storage units from one location to another.
The square footage under even a single bed is fairly large. Under a king size bed, there can be up to 42 square feet of space going to waste collecting dust. You can store a lot of things there, from shoes to your DVD collection, from power tools antique dolls. That’s why it might be best to build your own under-bed roll out storage tailor made to your special storage needs. You can make tray partitions the exact size you want, with whatever kind of lid on it for dust protection is needed.
The simplest type of rollout underbed storage can be made by fastening a caster to each corner of a sheet of plywood cut to half the width of your bed. Put one of these on each side of the bed and you have a quick place to store extra blankets and pillows. Covering the blankets with a sheet of thin plastic will keep the dust away.
For storing smaller items, more functional storage can be created by adding sides, partitions and a lid to the drawer. For sides and partitions, fasten strips of ¾ by 1 inch wood to the base, using wood screws and adhesive. The cover can be a second sheet of plywood the same size as the base, held on with hinges at one side. A handle on top of the cover and knobs on the front finish will add a finishing touch of convenience.
Around the Bed Storage
For still more storage around the bed, a storage chest can placed at the foot of the bed. A bedside nightstand will usually have some type of storage incorporated in it as well, whether drawers or shelving. Headboards with built in storage are also available; these can be part of a whole bed platform or stand alone add-ons to your current bed. These wall units can incorporate upholstered headrests, shelving, drawers and even cabinetry and can extend much wider than the actual bed. If you have sufficient headboard storage, a nightstand is not needed, so you can free up even more floor space.
Larger storage unit headboards make a great room divider structure; this gives you the option of placing the bed some place other than against a wall. Freestanding beds with wall storage units can create a separate dressing area in a large bedroom. Place the bed a few feet away from the wall, and you can even add a rear-facing, second storage unit at the back of the headboard, perhaps incorporating a mirror, closet, or makeup table and lighting. Another use for the area behind a large headboard is to put your exercise equipment there; a stairclimber or foldup treadmill can be easily hidden away while still conveniently located.
Photo by flickr users Jeremy Levince Design (top), Fren R (Ikea bed), nolaclutterbusters (bottom)