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How To Build A Loft Bed

How to build a loft bed? It’s not rocket science when you’ve got good plans and the right tools.  After going back and forth between a high platform bed or a loft bed for Benjamin, we finally decided on the loft bed. That way, we could build in shelves beneath it and thus not have to put shelves elsewhere on the wall, and he would have more play space.

He even is able to store his clothes in totes on the shelves, eliminating the need for a space-hogging dresser.

He, of course, thinks his new bed is totally cool. The only problem is, Mommy doesn’t like climbing the ladder and so she refuses to go up and read to him in his bed. But the space he’s got now is much nicer than what he had when we were living in the tiny house.

If you’d like a visual on how to build a loft bed – and building a platform bed, such as we are now sleeping on, is much the same – watch the video below.


Belated happy Thanksgiving to you all, and happy ninth birthday to our son. 😉

I recently shared that we finally moved from our tiny house into a 576 square-foot earth-sheltered home. Yes, I know, to some of you that still sounds tiny. But try living in 192 square feet for two years and see how nearly 600 feels! Anyway, the space is perfect for us. One of the greatest lessons I learned from watching videos about and living in a tiny house is that it’s all about design.

Okay, and the willingness to change your “more is better” mindset. If you have tens of thousands of things, you have to live in a bigger house – or spend ridiculous amounts of money renting a storage unit every month.

But you can hear more about that in my book Crazy SimpleFor now, for the curious and for the DIYers out there, especially those who think that one day they might build their own home (or at least finish it out), I offer my twenty-minute video about how Jerry built the interior walls for our earth-sheltered house. Enjoy!


Hallelujah! We have moved, and are, for the most part, settled. As I write these words, Jerry is working to finish our high platform bed (which will provide for storage underneath). By the time you read them, he will be finished with it and I will have organized the items we’re going to store underneath it. And J will be working on the doors for the bathroom.

We actually moved a day or two earlier than planned. Originally, we were going to move after J finished B’s loft bed. Then I saw the weather forecast for this past weekend, when we were going to move. Cold. Cold cold cold cold cold. I did not want to spend another wintry night in the Tuff Shed – not after seeing that our earth-sheltered house was maintaining a temperature between sixty-eight and seventy degrees during cold nights and cloudy, not-so-warm days without any heater being run.

I also did not want to have to be moving on a day when the morning would be literally freezing, and the later high only in the mid-forties.

So we moved Friday instead. I, with a little help from B, packed and moved nearly all the non-furniture items and small furniture (like wooden chairs) myself while J worked feverishly to complete B’s loft bed so he could move the big furniture. I have never been so exhausted as I was at the end of that day, nor as stiff as I was the next day (not in a long time, anyway).


Even better, our neighbor (who had been forewarned of this favor we would ask) helped J move the freezer as soon as J went to his house to ask for the help! So I only went one day having to go between the dome (our name for the earth-sheltered house) and the used-to-be-tiny-house-now-shed for freezer items.

Video tour of our new digs upcoming (won’t promise when, however). In the meantime, stay tuned for videos on how to build interior walls and how to build a loft bed. For now, here are three photos to give you a peek into our new home.

Benjamin being silly on the high platform bed that is mostly finished.

Benjamin being silly on the high platform bed (for our bedroom) that is mostly finished.


Part of our new kitchen (excuse the clutter on the floor; that is no longer there).


View into the living room from the kitchen.



The Interior Walls Are Going Up!

So, how’s it going with finishing out our earth-sheltered house? According to Murphy’s Law, everything takes longer than you think. This is especially so if you’re like me and are clueless about all things construction.

Nevertheless, our move-in day should be happening within ten days of this post being published, all things remaining equal. Painting the ceiling (which I did myself) and tiling the floor (mostly Jerry’s doing, but I helped quite a bit, especially with the grouting) were the biggest bears as far as I’m concerned. I wanted to throw a party when we got done with tile!

Now, we’re on the interior walls. Or, I must fairly say, Jerry is. My only contribution to the project is sweeping up the sawdust every night (for convenience’s sake, he’s doing all the cutting and sanding inside). The job could have been a faster and easier one if I had been happy with drywall or cheap wall paneling, but I wanted a rustic cabin look inside – and no fake wood! So we ordered a bunch of pine boards (about 150), 1/2 inch thick by six inches by eight feet, from the local sawmill. They only cut the wood, so J has to sand and square and remove imperfections as he goes, making the process even slower. But the lumber was half the cost (at least) that finished wood would have been from a lumber supply place.

I thought you’d like to see some pics of the process, so here you go.


This lumber I spread out on the floor because I was out of places to stand up against the wall. We were trying to dry it out so stacking it all together wasn’t an option.

As you can see, B has felt free to turn it into a parking lot for some of his vehicle toys.


There’s the workbench, set up about in the middle of what will be the Great Room. That big post in the foreground he is using as a straight edge. (D, see the clamps your DH was drooling over when we were still in Plano?)

Following is a photo of the (thank God!) dwindling stack of lumber against what will soon be the living room wall.


I have been growing two peppers in pots this summer on purpose so that I could continue them inside during the winter. Since nighttime temps are threatening to dip near freezing now, I had J bring them into our new place. Here is the bigger pepper:


We’ve harvested several peppers from it already.

Then there’s the tomato volunteer I found in the garden a couple of months ago. It has one small tomato and a couple of blossoms. I wanted to also have a tomato indoors this winter; this baby made it easy.

I have no idea what variety it is; I’ll have an idea once the tomato matures.


This is a view through the wall frame into B’s bedroom. The boxes I have been saving for packing (there are more in our tiny house), with yet more boards behind the stack.


Here is part of the Great Room wall in progress, about half-finished:


I got J to finish the two bathroom walls adjoining the bedrooms so I could move the metal shelves into it. The taller one, as you can see, is for storage. The smaller one against the back wall will be used for starting plants. The wall you see is nearly half finished.



“Everybody” says that you have to seal wood with something. Wanting to use as few toxins as possible, I did not want to paint the walls or use varnish. So we went with boiled linseed oil. However, when I coated the pine in the bathroom with it, this is what resulted:


Note how much darker it is than the plain pine. And J pointed out that the oil enhances the blemishes on the wood. (If you use the oil on lumber-store lumber, this does not happen. The color barely changes.) So the bathroom will be the only place where the wood is sealed. And that makes sense, since the bathroom is the only place where there will be any regular danger of the wood getting wet.

Also notice in the photo how the wood just below the circuit breaker box sticks out. That’s because J wrapped the pipes with the wiring going into the box with wire mesh, and the wire stuck out a bit from the wall frame. So he solved the problem by hammering boards on either side of the section under the box, then using those boards as anchors for the small boards that went over the wire mesh.


Last but not least, the mess in our bedroom. (Again, the outside of the wall is about half-finished.)


After the walls, it will take a day or two to build and put in the doors. Next, J is going to take a couple of days to build a high platform bed for us, and a semi-loft bed for B. And finally,

move-in day! :)


In Search Of The Perfect Mattress

I have been searching for the perfect mattress for our soon-to-be-built platform bed. Here is what I mean by “perfect”:

  1. Low cost,
  2. Toxin-free,
  3. Comfortable, and
  4. Just the right size.

Numbers three and four are easily found with a wide variety of mattresses out there. Unfortunately, the vast, vast majority of them are treated with toxic flame retardants. While these chemicals might not be as dangerous as the PBDE that used to be used as a flame retardant, they are still substances I do not want to be breathing in night after night. And I am skeptical that anything that nasty ever completely offgasses.

Mattresses that are not toxic, or very low in toxins, will never be low cost. Au contraire, they are the most expensive options out there. I’m talking natural rubber and organic cotton that are treated with non-toxic flame retardants – which, of course, are more expensive than their toxic synthetic counterparts.

Our current bed

When we first moved in here, we did not want to spend $50-$100 a month on a storage unit. And good thing, since it ended up taking almost two years for our ultimate home to be built! Although we moved a full-size and a queen-size mattress with us, we realized with dismay that we would not be able to store them ourselves without losing most of the floor space in the Tuff Shed we started out in. So after I explained to my husband another mattress option, we donated them to the local flea market.

That other option was to create a futon-like mattress out of all the quilts and afghans that Jerry and I (mostly Jerry) had collected over the years. It took J one week, and me two, to get used to sleeping on something so extremely firm (it feels hard until you get used to it), but now we both sleep very well on the makeshift mattress which simply lays on the floor at night.

But these piles of quilts and afghans have done double duty. During the day, they have formed the couch cushion.

About a month ago, I had to face a dilemma: in the new house, we are going to have our own bedroom, and an actual bed – no more sleeping on the floor! – and a separate couch. What would we do for a couch cushion, and what would we do for a mattress?

What I have considered

The easiest thing would be to follow a suggestion I make in my book Crazy Simple, and go Japanese. That is, chuck the idea of having a couch altogether and just sit on throw pillows on the floor. But not only does that idea not fly with Jerry, but also we know from experience that sitting all the way down on the floor and then having to stand up from the floor is not comfortable. We used to have a “floor couch” in the tiny house and even though the two of us have no back problems or arthritis or any such thing, if you’re not raised in that kind of furniture environment it’s hard to get accustomed to as an adult.

That idea aside, I thought we could use the existing throw pillows that we had no use for in the tiny house as the couch cushions. Then we could simply go on using the folded bedding as our mattresses. But how long would the polyester batting with which they are stuffed last if they were constantly sat upon? Your average Wal-Mart quality bed pillow isn’t supposed to last more than eighteen months with just your head laying on it for eight hours a day; pillows that people put most of their weight upon might not last even that long.

So I decided we would continue to use the folded bedding as the couch cushion, and purchase a futon mattress for our bed. However, after not very much research I discovered that futons are sprayed with flame retardants as much as any other mattress.

Then how about using the futon for the couch and the folded bedding for our bed? That wouldn’t bother me as much, since one doesn’t usually spend nearly as much time on a couch as in a bed – and often not in a reclining position.

A traditional Japanese full-size futon runs over $300 including shipping. A lot cheaper than regular coil mattresses, but still up there. A cheaper futon with a coil that I found is covered in cheap polyester. So then I’d be dealing with not only flame retardants, but chemicals from both the fabric and the dye.


I had nearly given up when I went back to the pillow idea. I looked up “organic cotton pillow” on Amazon, and almost bought a few. My idea was to wrap them all in a sheet to create one continuous cushion. But organic cotton anything is expensive, and just like a conventional pillow, they would have to be replaced probably every two years.

What to do?

Then the light bulb went on. What about a different kind of pillow? I’m talking a kind of pillow that is said to last even longer than a futon mattress (which is supposed to be good for ten years).

My final decision

For several years, I think over five, I’ve been sleeping with a buckwheat pillow. This is a pillow that is stuffed with buckwheat hulls. It conforms to your head and neck, and can last up to fifteen years. Unlike polyester or cotton batting, it doesn’t get compressed down. A couple of years after I began using one, I bought one for J when his conventional pillow got too flat. Now B has one, as well.

So after nixing the idea of using organic cotton pillows for the couch, I looked up buckwheat pillows. For $100 cheaper than buying a traditional Japanese futon mattress, we could line the couch with four or five buckwheat pillows (we already have throw pillows to put against the back).

We received them just last night. Unlike the pillows we use for sleeping, which I bought from a website other than Amazon, they do not have a soft wool padding on one side. So when we lay them out and sat down on them, they felt harder than we wanted a couch cushion to be (I mean, they’re buckwheat hulls, right?). I said to Jerry, “What if we buy a couple of blankets from Goodwill to fold over the top of them?” He thought that would work.

But if you know me, I am all about saving money and using what we already have. In a storage box, I have a comforter that I bought when I was single. Why not use that as covers for our winter bed, and use the cotton thermal blankets as toppers for the buckwheat pillows?

I tried it out this morning, and lo and behold, the slim blankets, each folded at least twice, make sitting on the pillows a lot more comfortable. Now, not anything like a sofa you buy from a store. But modern sofas, with their super-soft cushions, are horribly unhealthy for the human spine, and consequently nervous system. If you need to lie down, go to bed. To sit and watch T.V. or read for thirty minutes, a firm cushion is good enough for most people.

What our new sofa cushion will look like

I will drape a sheet over the top of the couch platform. On top will go the five new buckwheat pillows, scrunched together as close as possible. On top of those, the folded thermal blankets. Then I will wrap the sheet tightly over the whole kit-and-kaboodle.


Photos of the “new” couch and bed coming in a week or two. Stay tuned!