Unlike a bunk bed, whose frame holds a pair of beds stacked on top of each other, a loft bed has a raised frame for one mattress. Its modular design also allows for the inclusion of accessories, such as a desk, drawers, dresser, a futon or a play area, underneath it.
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Loft beds come in three different "ceiling" heights -- measurements that reflect distance between the floor and the underside of the bed -- with a low-rise of 39 inches, a mid-rise of 44 inches or a high-rise of 60 inches. Lofts can hold twin/single, double, queen or king-size mattresses. Adding an extra bed in an L-shaped design or partially stacked makes it a twin loft, not to be confused with the mattress size. Some styles allow the bottom bed to stow away like a drawer.
The one- and two-story playhouse and castle styles come in the low-rise size for preschoolers. The playhouse bed, which comes in many colours, functions as an indoor playground, with a ladder, slide and a roomy play area below. The top holds a tent and the bottom has "walls" -- curtains with sewn-on windows and a door. The castle loft bed, a similar concept, turns the top tent into a tower and the bottom play area into a fort with patterned curtains.
School-Age and Preteens
Most of the preschooler styles also come in mid-rise height, holding a single or twin mattress. Some designs have a two-bed configuration. A space shuttle theme employs one or two twin mattresses and a "cockpit" with a bench seat for two kids. Such beds may have a ladder and slide, or you can add a "wing" that acts as a stepping platform.
An elaborate wooden castle bed, with a tower, stairs and a bookcase, uses a crackle paint job to give it an aged look. The wooden fortress bed looks like a miniature cabin, with a staircase and realistic detailing. The monster truck loft -- an elevated bed on fake wheels -- includes steps that lead to the "cab."
Some stores sell extra-long, high-rise loft beds that have enough room underneath for a full-size sofa or futon. You can order a pre-made loft bed or have it build to your specifications, customised by size and style to fit the room and aesthetics of its owner.
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