How To Add a Loft to Your Apartment

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How To Add a Loft to Your Apartment

aptsherpa · Jun 26, 2006

Apartments, especially studios and efficiencies, can be short on space. This can result in the loss of both functional and storage space. One great way to help combat space constraints is building a loft bed or other lofted space to help use the vertical space available in your apartment to its fullest potential otherwise. There are obvious limitations to this process in an apartment environment, where you’re not able to make major modifications to your surroundings. However, it’s relatively cheap and easy to build a freestanding loft bed that won’t have a lasting effect on your apartment, and the space you save will more than compensate for the initial investment in materials. Many people use lofts to house their mattresses, as beds can take up a lot of space. This is a great option, but just building a loft for storage can greatly increase the number of places to put things in your apartment, without reducing your floor space.

Measure twice, cut once

The most important component of your loft construction experience is the planning. You’ll need to decide where you’re putting your loft and what you’ll be placing on it (whether that’s a bed or other items) long before you think of heading out to Home Depot for materials. Peruse the many loft-building ideas and experiences available online and measure your space carefully to determine how big your loft should be and how it will fit in the space you have available. Consider the height of your ceiling when determining the height of your loft—how much space will there be between the loft and the ceiling? If you’re sleeping up there, you’ll need some room to sit up and maneuver. At the same time, you don’t want to make the loft so low that there’s no room to move around beneath it, either. Measure carefully and use or make a plan that will let you get the most out of your new loft. Many colleges and universities have very particular specifications for the loft beds allowed in their dorm rooms, so check out residence life websites for sample plans and information.

What to buy

Once you have a detailed plan drawn up, you should already know what you need to purchase to make it happen. In general, you’ll want something like four 4 by 4 posts for the four corners of the loft, several 2 by 4 boards for supporting the loft space itself, some 2 by 6 or 8 boards for the rectangular frame of the loft, and some plywood to create the horizontal space where your bed, chair, or storage items will reside. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at the hardware store, lumberyard, or Home Depot—the employees will likely be very accommodating and may have some great advice for you. Don’t forget to buy screws and bolts to hold it all together. If you don’t already own a circular saw or power drill, you may want to invest in those tools—especially if you plan on doing more home improvement projects. If you don’t want to invest in high-quality tools, you’ll need to borrow or rent them for the project (a better option than buying low-quality tools). Talk to a construction-crazy friend or relative, or ask your local hardware store about the possibility of renting tools. Better yet, if you’re not too confident about your building abilities, ask if someone might be able to help you put the loft together.

How to build

Once you have all the materials, you’ll need to begin constructing the loft. Start by putting together the rectangular frame that will surround the loft. Once you have the frame outline together, you can start affixing the horizontal supports that will lend strength to the loft. After this skeleton is completed, you’ll want to hoist it up on the supports so it’s a true loft. At this point, the plywood loft surface goes on, and any braces you may need. Your bracing strategy depends on how much weight the loft needs to hold. If you have any doubts about the safety of the loft, more bracing will always be better than less. Use screws, not nails, to hold the loft together—screws will result in a more solid connection between the pieces of wood.

Once it’s done

Once your loft is completed, hoist your mattress, put on your sheets, and take a well-deserved rest! Or, if you’re using the loft for storage, pile up those boxes that have been cluttering your apartment, and revel in the newfound space! Remember, the point of a loft bed is to be a convenience. If the loft is not working out the way you expected, don’t be afraid to use it in a different way or explore even more storage solutions. There’s never just one answer to an apartment living question!

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