Ready for a DIY project to organize the junk that collects on your kids’ beds? This step-by-step Bunk Bed Bookshelf Tutorial will have you cleaned up in no time! If you’ve been looking for bookshelves for kids, you’ve come to the right place.
I have heard that some kids sleep with teddy bears. Mine sleep with books! They love to read in bed, but they don’t love to put the books away. As a result, books get smashed and bent up, and sometimes I wonder how the kids even find room to sleep! When you combine that with stuffed animals, things can get pretty crazy. When we got bunk beds, I decided it was time for things to change.
Thanks to great tutorials all over the web (I used this one from Frugal Home Designs the most), my dad (who helped me build), and my hubby (who helped me put the shelves up), I created this solution:
Forward-facing, pocket-style bookshelves for kids bunk beds
(You could easily adapt these for any wall or bed.)
- Enough 1×4 boards to fit the length of your desired shelf/shelves (used for the back of the shelves)
- The same length of 1×3 boards (used for the bottom of the shelves)
- The same length of wood trim (or 1×2 boards) for the front of the shelves. You will need 4 extra inches to cap off the sides of each shelf. (That’s 8 extra inches for the L-shaped shelf, and 8 extra inches for each additional shelf you build.) I used something like this (I thought the left side would make the front look cute for a girls’ room):
House of Fara
3/4 in. x 3-1/4 in. x 8 ft. MDF Flute Casing
I got mine from the scrap pile at Habitat for Humanity Restore. I did have to buy one large piece for the long wall from a hardware store, but I was able to use scraps for the other pieces. (The scraps cost me $.20!)
- Hammer and finishing nails
- Wood glue
- Saw and miter box
- A helper is nice, but it is possible to do this by yourself. (I made the small shelf alone.)
- For finishing–caulk, wood filler, sandpaper, primer and paint
I have tons of pictures, but they are all taken in my dark kitchen with my dark counter top. Sorry! That’s my work station. Hopefully, the diagrams will help.
Using the miter box and saw, cut your boards to the desired size. Pictures start after this step. Start with one shelf and then move onto the next. I am starting with the short half of the L-shaped shelf.
- Lay your pieces out like the diagram so that you can tell where to put the glue!
- Spread a bead of wood glue on the bottom inside edge of the 1×4 and the small edge of the 1×3.
- Put the pieces together and nail into place. If your boards are long, it really helps to have a helper. Unless you’re better at this than I am–which you probably are–the glue will likely run all over. Use a damp paper towel or cloth to wipe it off as you go.
- Nail down the entire length of the boards–making sure place a nail in each corner.
- (Not pictured) Use a sharp screw or countersinking tool to hammer the nail below the surface of the wood.
- Spread a bead of glue across the bottom inside edge of whatever wood you choose for the front of the shelf, and spread another across the remaining short side of the bottom 1×3.
- Put the pieces together, hold them firmly, and wipe away access glue.
- Nail the trim or 1×3 into place.
Repeat these steps with the boards for the long piece of the L-shape.
Now it’s time miter the edges so that the pieces will meet in the corner and finish off the edges.
Once you have finished both pieces, lay them out in the L-shape and mark the ends that meet to form the corner of the L. (You will cut those edges at a 45 degree angle so that they will create a nice corner. You may want to lightly draw a line in the direction of your cut so that you don’t make a mistake. (*Warning! Your walls might not be square. If you are really good at this stuff and know how to match the angel of the wall to the angle of the wood–you are much more skilled than I am. My husband and I made our own fix that I will show you later.)
- Using a saw and miter box (or if you’re really lucky, a real miter saw), cut the edges you marked at a 45 degree angle. (Make sure you have the direction of the angle right before you cut!) *Warning! This shelf is too tall for most miter boxes. You will have to get creative to make the cut all of the way through. It is possible, though!
- Check to make sure you mitered the corners correctly.
- Measure the depth of your shelf and cut scraps of trim or 1×3 to cap the ends.
- Following the same directions as before, glue and nail the pieces to the outside ends of the shelves, and countersink the nails (pictured). If you are using wood trim, be very gentle when you nail the two pieces of trim together. They split easily. (If they split, just fix the split with wood glue and clamp them together to dry.)
- Finished edges should look something like the picture.
It’s time to finish and put up the shelves! *Important! When you mount the shelves on the wall above the top bunk, the bottom of the shelf should be at least 14 inches above the bed railing to avoid bumped heads! (This shelf is deeper than the shelf for the bottom bunk.)
- Fill in nail holes with wood filler, let it dry and sand.
- Prime and paint.
- Attach shelves to the wall with 3″ screws into the studs.
- If your walls are not square, purchase a small metal plate and some paintable caulk to fill the hole.
If you can’t get the pieces to meet in the center, trim off part of the back corner of one shelf. Screw the plate into the corner to even up the two shelves. Fill the hole with caulk. Prime and paint the metal plate, screws and caulk.
You are done! Stand back and enjoy.
Now try a shelf for the bottom bunk.
Since this shelf will be right above your child’s head, make it as narrow as possible. (See the diagram.) This is as narrow as I could make it and still have enough room to hold books.
My girls love these shelves, and their beds are so much cleaner! (If only the shelves would help them put away their clothes!)
There’s just one problem I have left to solve–lighting. Should I use some of these kids table lamps from Childrenskidsfurniture.com, or should I do something more fun? Although I think these gecko lamps from ComCor21 are absolutely awesome–wouldn’t they look adorable climbing up the wall?–I’ll probably have to stick with book lights for now. They’re much more in my price range.
Thanks Dad and Steve for helping me finish this project!
I’d love to see what you make with this tutorial. I hope it’s helpful to you! If you like this idea, please “like it,” “pin it,” “google+ it,” or share it in some way so that others can enjoy it too. I’d also love it if you followed my site in some way. Thanks for visiting.
These shelves (and the bed) have had a makeover! Check out the new look:
Want to read about the changes? Check out the posts by clicking on the images below: