The Advantages and Disadvantages of Loft Beds in College Dorm Rooms

To Loft or Not to Loft, or how do I fit all my stuff in this tiny dorm room?

Dorm residents often loft their beds, or at least consider it, to make a more livable space. Elevating your bed a few inches provides extra storage (with convenient, easy access) under the bed. Raising it a few more inches creates significantly more usable space (larger items can be stored away or additional layers can be added atop what fit within a few inches). Raising the bed further offers more choices.

Beyond extra storage, lofting can also inspire you to creatively redesign that boxy dorm room into an inviting living space: comfortable and efficient. Your dorm room is more than just a place to sleep; it’s also a place to relax with friends and to study. Lofting may generate enough room to add stereo components, computer accessories, large pillows for extra seating, and other furnishings.

Privacy screens or decorative room dividers (that fold away when not needed) can also give your lofted space a more private feel. At times when you need to study, or just want to avoid unwanted distractions, they can also be useful. Re-purposed extra sheets can also block others’ view of what’s under your lofted bed: possibly an advantage with unexpected visitors if things become a mess.

Small spaces feel bigger (and are easier to live in) when neat and organized. Slide and roll out drawers (some units are stackable) fit easily under a lofted bed. Labeled filing crates for papers, storage containers for extra shoes, bath supplies, sports equipment, and other organizers sold with college dorms supplies may fit more in less space. But you don’t need to spend much money.

Consider how many things you need, how organizing might help you, and how much money you want to spend (or not). Under a lofted bed, you may do OK with just using boxes (labeled or not) and that luggage which brought stuff to college. Fill them up, slide them in and out. Big items (like your tennis racket, computer printer, and stereo components) only need an accessible spot. Try baskets (lined with a drawstring bag that can be used for carrying items) to stash things like your dirty clothes or bathroom supplies.

How do you loft your bed? That answer is fairly easy.

Lofting can be done with leg extenders, purchased at most bed and bath stores where college bedding is sold. But first check with your school housing office: many offer assistance or have devices already present for lofting the beds. Carefully consider their suggestions and precautions on how to loft your bed. Also consider what they tell you on how you can bunk your beds.

Another space-saving alternative, bunking vertically stacks your bed and your room-mate’s together, freeing up the space where one bed stood. This may be preferable to lofting (depending on your plans and whether a shared space fits common needs). Bunking may allow additional furniture, an enhanced stereo and TV center, or a mini-fridge/microwave.

Precautions about safety should not be overlooked.

Avoid late night confusion: Party-goers and sleep-walkers may be more prone to tripping and falling from highly lofted beds. Similar precautions exist for those who use the top of bunked beds.

Read any brochures or instructions on lofting that your college dorm provides. If you are going to buy leg extenders for your dorm bed, compare the sturdiness of various extenders. Can the height be changed easily when needs arise? Will the extenders hold-up for an extended period or will another version be needed for multiple moves?

Don’t try to make leg extenders raise the bed higher than their recommended height. Architecture and engineering students, and other creative types, may be tempted to push limits with creative construction. Avoid extending your bed too far vertically with make-shift methods. Consider safety issues, and whether your calculations are true. Excessively high structures, and those with faulty bases, may topple.

Don’t cantilever your bed (extending it horizontally beyond its supporting base). An elevating support placed in a position different than the usual leg supports can create a potential tipping hazard. Imagine an old fashioned scale, or a one legged table, swaying and tipping over to one side. Avoid falls by not using unreliable methods or poorly made equipment.

Elevating your bed, either bunking or lofting, provides many advantages. Extra space and a more livable dorm environment are obvious benefits. Many students find it both easy and convenient, especially when their dorm housing services provide assistance. Contact the housing office and your future room-mate to discuss your options; then look at systems that will keep your belongings organized.

A little preparation can make your dorm room much more comfortable and enjoyable.