The rise of the bougie bunk


Integrated staircases, hand-painted details, linen curtains – the new bunk beds are not just for kids, says interiors editor Nicole Gray.

For anyone who missed the announcement, we are entering the era of the bunk bed.

For adults.

When Holt Williamson, one of the founders of Texas design firm Cedar & Oak, designed bunks for his parents’ house, he incorporated three feet of head space above each bed to accommodate adults. Integrated stairs make the climb to the top bunk easier than with a ladder

Before eye-rolling ensues, the new one-up, one-down sleeping stations are a long way from the DIY horrors of circa 1990 – or those that were once a hallmark of Granny’s house and cramped family holidays. The new versions are sleek and stylish.

In a 17th-century holiday cottage in Wales (littlemill, two handmade sleigh beds have been converted into chic adult bunks. For a similar paint shade try Loving Orange,; for curtain fabric try

From Instagram to upscale residential homes and boutique hotels, you’ll be seeing this new wave of bunks popping up everywhere. At Frampton Court in Gloucestershire, for example, cabin beds (pictured overleaf) are inspired by traditional gypsy wagon designs and come hand-painted by artist Tess Newall. Meanwhile, at the Proper Hotel in San Francisco, Bunk Room guests retreat to slumber in walnut bunks via brass ladders designed by Kelly Wearstler. Even luxury trains, including the Caledonian Sleeper and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, boast bunk beds in some of their most sought-after cabins. If eating eggs benedict in a bunk bed isn’t the epitome of luxe lounging, we don’t know what is.

In luxury rental property Frampton Court (, cabin beds hand-painted by mural and furniture artist Tess Newall fill the Gypsy Red bedroom at The Cyder House. Newall took inspiration from traditional gypsy wagons, with each bed decorated in a textured blue wash and floral borders. sells a wide range of scalloped rugs

The sleek, stylish new buns are perfect for luxe lounging

In terms of practicality, the comeback of the bunk makes sense. Stacked sleeping saves on floor space – handy when the footprint is at a premium – and designers now include luxe details such as reading lights, linen curtains, bookshelves and, if positioned by a window, electronic blinds.

Built-in bunks are ideal for when space is tight or when you want to accommodate guests – plus they’re more chic and comfortable than a pull-out sofabed. Here tongue-and-grove panelling, reading lights and curtains help elevate the space. For a similar paint shade try On Mute,

In London, interior designer Katharine Pooley has also raised the bunk-bed style stakes, with upholstered headboards and matching pillows.

To make the most of every square inch in a room, experts recommend going bespoke, as it means a bed can stretch wall to wall (without leaving pockets of wasted space). In large bedrooms, it may even be possible to build bunks wide enough to take queen-size mattresses. Or you could consider mixing mattress sizes (a double mattress on the bottom bunk with a single on top) depending on your space.

If you decide to design your own, check the ceiling height before confirming specifications – no one wants to sit up in bed and bang their head. At least three feet of head space between each bunk is usually recommended.

If there is space, take inspiration from interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel and build a simple MDF archway around bunk beds for a cocooning feel. Velvet curtains bring privacy and a dash of theatre. For a similar fabric try sells a variety of playful bedding prints

Finally, factor in your mattress price when you budget. Most bunk beds are sold as frames only, as bunk-bed mattresses often have specific requirements due to safety considerations. The mattress should not exceed a certain thickness to prevent the risk of injury, especially for the top bunk. Also try to avoid buying bunk beds (or any type of bed and mattress for that matter) online. You need to get a sense of how solid the frame is, how it will feel to sleep on and how it will look in your space. John Lewis, Next and Ikea are good places to visit for some bed-hopping at the high street end of things.

Now all that’s left to do is argue over who gets the top bunk…

Best of the bunks

Oak-effect high sleeper, £799,

Monochrome with trundle drawer, £1,075,

White and brown with separation option, £1,720,

Steel loft bed, £289,

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