Esmé Stern

Published on January 22, 2021

Summer camps, boat cabins, and college dorms—bunk beds don’t usually appear in glamorous places. Even think back to the one you had as a child: More likely than not, it was a purely utilitarian way to save some space. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Some of the coolest kids’ rooms we’ve seen lately have bunks—and between the bold colors and mini architectural feats, they’re the perfect mix of form and function. 

The catch: Most of them are custom fixtures. If you’re renovating, there’s plenty of inspo to pull, but if not, we have you covered with some shoppable alternatives to call your own. At the very least, any of these will make bedtime a more enjoyable endeavor (for everyone involved).

The Arched One

green arched bunk beds with gold curtainPin It
Photography by Matthew Williams | Design by Sarah Sherman Samuel

The original: This green stunner is a Sarah Sherman Samuel original. Inspired by a circus tent motif, the design pro DIYed it in one weekend. We love the unusual curved silhouette, which takes an already impressive display to a whole new level.  

The dupe: What’s great about this Casa Kids bed (aside from the shape) is the fact that its light palette totally lends itself to a fresh paint job; take a page from Samuel’s book and make a statement with a wash of emerald

The Colorful One

wood bunk beds with red ladderPin It
Courtesy of Kip & Co.

The original: Kip & Co. founder Alex McCabe stuck to a pretty minimal style for her daughters’ room, with the exception of the wine red railing and ladder. That pop of color was inspired by a lampshade she bought in Indonesia: “It has this little strip of red in it, so I said to the steelmaker, ‘Match it exactly.’”

The dupe: Those of us without dedicated steelmakers can still use a bunk bed to bring some playful vibrancy to a nursery—just pick a simple steel frame and let its electric blue shade speak for itself. 

The Classic One

white kids bedroom with bunk beds and pink beddingPin It
Photography by Tessa Neustadt | Design by Amber Interiors

The original: Tonal pink cushions and bedding add some subtle contrast to this otherwise traditional nook by Amber Lewis. The bunk bed here is another opportunity to add in sweet details, like custom woven pillows and a miniature bookcase in the headboard. 

The dupe: Calming and contemporary, this Scandinavian Designs Furniture find suits an array of personal styles, meaning that all you have to do is switch out the bedding as your little ones grow to get use out of it for years to come (or at least until they start demanding a full-size bed). 

The Low One

imagePin It
Courtesy of Chris Loves Julia

The original: Chris and Julia Marcum, the duo behind DIY blog Chris Loves Julia, knew it was time for a change when their daughters, Greta and Faye, began hanging blankets and sheets from their built-in bunks. In came a simple black rod, lush emerald green curtains…and voilà! 

The dupe: Every fort has to start somewhere, and this solid choice offers a perfect foundation for your own curtain additions.

The Storage-Friendly One

wooden bunk bed with bookshelf and stairsPin It
Photography by Tessa Neustadt | Design by Amber Interiors

The original: Another Amber Lewis creation, this bunk bed is perfect for so many reasons—starting with the dual-size beds and ending with the handy built-in bookshelf. (And can we talk about that cool custom stairway?)

The dupe: Take advantage of the shelves in this Pottery Barn piece to get them started young on their library. You can even add your own custom-size bed below thanks to an open alcove: Just choose a simple frame, and you’re all set. 

The Pink Ombré One

pink and orange kids bedroom with bunk bedPin It
Photography by Bicker Design

The original: Sunset hues rule in this adorable nursery, thought up by Jenna Densten. The simple arched rail is a small detail, but set against the pinks and white built-in furniture, it adds some dimension. 

The dupe: This Perludi alternate features a similar curved railing, and since it’s a raw wood, you can paint it any shade you like. We recommend sticking with a clean white so you can style it with the vibrant bedding of your choice. 

The Double-Duty One

imagePin It
Courtesy of Studio McGee

The original: In this space, designed by Studio McGee, simplicity isn’t what it seems. Custom shelving built into the back of the bunks allows for ample storage space and tchotchke displays. Plus camouflaged base drawers are the ideal place to store extra linens. 

The dupe: A simple wood frame like this one is begging for customization. Paint the structure a bold hue (or two!), hand your kids a pack of (easily removable) stickers, add front and back panels with extra storage—and they’ve got a place to call their (and your) own. 

The Rustic One

rustic grey bedroom with bunkbed and curtainPin It
Photography and Design by Jersey Ice Cream Co.

The original: Textured linens, exposed beams, and eyelet curtains: Everything about this Jersey Ice Cream Co.–designed farmhouse is vintage perfection. 

The dupe: That said, not all of us are graced with charming architectural gems in our homes, so you can fake a wood beam by way of a bunk with a dark walnut accent strip. 

The Treehouse One

house-shaped bunkbed with cactus wallpaperPin It
Photography by Stephen Busken | Design by Studio Lifestyle

The original: Can you imagine the sleepovers in this one? Studio Lifestyle’s design comes complete with a slide, which would have pretty much topped our 8-year-old self’s wish list.

The dupe: It doesn’t have a slide, but RH Baby & Child’s house silhouette is still one of the most playful bunk beds we’ve ever seen. 

The Open One

imagePin It
Courtesy of House Becoming Home

The original: To avoid a typical cavernous bottom bunk, House Becoming Home opted for an L-shaped look complete with funky wallpaper, a lick of forest green paint, and multi-size drawers for extra storage. 

The dupe: Squeeze freestanding furniture (like a small dresser or nightstand) next to the bottom bunk to give this perpendicular pick a storage boost.

The Dramatic One

dark blue built in bunk bedsPin It
Photography and Design by Studio McGee

The original: Coated in a deep navy hue, this space by Studio McGee definitely packs a punch. We love that it’s painted the same shade as the background shiplap, for a cool monochrome effect. 

The dupe: The same can be said for this charcoal version; if you’re not afraid to go bold with your nursery, pit it against a similarly dark wall. Matte black is the new white, after all.  

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.

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