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Choosing the right bunk bed for your growing family

Optimising space is a key consideration when selecting a new bunk bed but implementing a strategic and systematic selection process will deliver the best outcome. In a growing family setting where the kids need to share a room, the decision to get a bunk bed is unique but the root reason is ultimately to meet specific requirements, with kids demands and freeing up space key drivers.

Once the decision is made to purchase a bunk bed instead of standard kids beds, single beds or other kids furniture which take up a lot more space, then selecting the ideal product can be overwhelming and consume considerable time. This is where its critical to know what you don’t require and, concurrently, formulate a hypothesis of the ideal bunk bed to meet the specific need(s).

Applying the selection process – detailed below – captures all the relevant inputs to choose the right space-saving bunk bed for your growing family.

Know your stakeholders

The starting point with any strategic process is understanding the primary stakeholders’ needs, which in a growing family setting is the kids. Keep the points simple but talk with your kids and make their input important to the decision-making process. This secures buy-in, aids with colour choice, determines sleeping arrangements, provides guidance to factor in value-added features like a trundle, storage drawers, desk and desired style i.e. traditional or modern design.

A subjective benefit of getting the kids involved is it harmonises the process, as they will have had a say in choosing their bunk bed. If, however, there are divergent views on colour a very popular neutral option is white. Typically, white does not generally impact kids’ moods, like red might, and doesn’t clash with other colour schemes if the kids have different coloured linen.   

Safety first

Any bunk bed under consideration must comply with Australian mandatory safety standards and be duly certified. All products must have the following: vertical guardrails on all sides and ends with a minimum height that is 260mm from the upper surface of the mattress; no gaps that can be entrapment hazards; no protrusions greater than 8mm; and clear label that states the maximum mattress height on the top bunk if the guard rails are less than 360mm. Similar standards apply for loft beds which are simply a bunk bed without a bottom bunk. More information can be found on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) website.

It is important to ensure you speak with your kids to emphasise the bunk bed is not a play zone, but strictly for sleeping. According to the ACCC, most bunk-bed related injuries in Australia are a result of kids between 5-14 playing.

Understanding safety standards provides a critical guide on how to correctly choose the mattress height, so it is within the maximum limit to ensure the guardrail is still least 260mm clear. Further, it is important to select the right high-quality, long-lasting mattresses for the top and bottom bunks which support a developing child’s posture and facilitate deep sleep cycles that deliver positive health benefits.  

A five-year investment 

If you consider buying a bunk bed over a five-year investment horizon, then that should ensure your mind-set focuses on durable, high-quality and value for money products. Incrementally, this time frame means it is imperative to look forward and build in the kids’ future needs as they grow and develop over this period. In particular, ensure there is ample space between the lower and upper bunk and, of course, factor in the ceiling height too.

While each family situation is unique, looking over the longer-term brings trade-off analysis into the mix, which is an extremely robust process to aid choosing the better option between two competing alternatives. Consider the following choices:

Don’t forget the measurements

Having been through a systematic process and selected the optimal bunk bed product, its specific measurements need to be reconciled against the room where it is going to be housed. After all, one of the key reasons for a growing family to buy a bunk bed is to place it optimally to facilitate creating more usable space within a bedroom. Further, its important that if a trundle or storage drawers are underneath the bottom bunk, there is adequate room for these to be safely pulled out.

DIY or professional assembler

Once you have selected the bunk bed and know where it will be placed, then its important to know it will take several hours being very methodical reading detailed instructions to assemble the bunk bed. If you don’t have the patience or are time poor, then it is imperative to pre-arrange for the product to be professionally assembled.

Commercial users

Away from a home setting, a plethora of organisations ranging from the Australian Defence Force (military dormitories), backpacker hostels and budget accommodation use bunk beds in every-day settings. In selecting the right product, the same core selection principles apply as for the home – primary stakeholder considerations, appropriate spacing, neutral colour scheme, durability over a five-year time span (timber vs metal), space saving attributes and reliable functionality.

For commercial organisations, where optimal space utilisation is paramount to deliver primary stakeholder satisfaction, the selection metrics needs to carefully evaluate the ability to generate ongoing value from repetitive use. The trade-off is to ensure the bunk bed product selected can last well beyond five-years, as replacement costs are detrimental to value creation.

The final verdict

Using a strategic selection process to choose the right space saving bunk bed for your growing family will help avoid buyers’ remorse. More importantly, thinking out over a five-year time frame, which factors in changing dynamics, alters perceptions towards selecting a high-quality durable product that delivers ongoing reliable functionality.

Stanley Jacobson