How to Make Your Bed Look Like It’s Floating

How to Make Your Bed Look Like It’s Floating
Photo: ImageFlow, Shutterstock

A floating platform bed can add an interesting aesthetic and dimension to your bedroom — and they’re relatively inexpensive to make and install yourself. There are some things to consider before you dive in, though, from both a design and safety perspective.

To start with, “floating” platform beds obviously aren’t really floating — it’s an optical illusion. The base of the bed frame is set back from the platform far enough that you can’t see it unless you get low to the ground. But the trick is to make the base underneath solid and wide enough to avoid tipping over if someone sits at the edge of the bed.

Here’s what you need to know before making your own DIY floating platform bed.

Tools and materials

This is a simple project, but it will need to be sturdy, so some basic carpentry skills are needed. The tools and materials required for this project are:

  • Miter saw
  • 2”-by-6” and 2”-by-4” lumber
  • Wood glue
  • 2-½” wood screws
  • Drill
  • Screw gun
  • Framing square
  • Tape measure

Building your base

A “floating” platform bed is made by making a smaller structure underneath your mattress-bearing frame so that your mattress platform can sit on top of the base. The size of the smaller structure under your mattress platform depends on your mattress size. You can measure the size of your bed, or use this handy guide to sizes to determine the dimensions.

To hold the weight of the mattress-bearing platform, the base structure underneath it needs to be sturdy, so making this base from 2”-by-6” boards is recommended. Making a rectangular frame that is 16 inches narrower and 8 inches shorter in length than your mattress platform will give you the look of a floating platform without enough of your main bed platform cantilevered out to cause tipping (unless a large amount of force is applied). Once you’ve made a rectangular frame, adding some supports in the middle, going lengthwise to hold the weight of your bed frame, is necessary. This will also add weight to your frame to contribute to its tip-resistant design.

Building your mattress frame

Once you’ve got the under-frame finished, you can build a rectangular frame from 2”-by-6” boards that will accommodate your mattress. If you’re planning to use bed slats, the rectangle should be just big enough for your mattress to rest inside it. Next, add some supports made from 2”-by-4” boards to your mattress platform going across in the opposite direction from the supports on your base structure. The supports can be used to help join your two frames and will help spread the weight out evenly over the whole surface.

To add bed slats or box spring to rest your mattress on, build a smaller rectangular frame made from 2”-by-4” boards that fits inside your mattress platform frame. Attaching it for the inside or the outer frame with screws will make it strong and functional. This will make a convenient surface to attach your slats or box spring to.

Joining your frames

Next, stack the mattress frame on top of the base structure, centering the base structure side to side and lining up the headboard ends together. The result should be an 8-inch overhang on three sides, enough so you can’t see the base structure unless you lean down to look under the bed. You can screw the support pieces together to join the two layers where they overlap, then also use some 2”-by-4” supports cut to the height of the two frames together and screwed in vertically to add structure and prevent sliding.

Install your mattress

Now, you’re ready to install your slats or box spring and mattress. It should fit just inside the outer edges of your mattress frame and appear to hover about 5-½ inches from the floor — and it should be stable and flip-resistant. If you’re still worried about sitting on the edge of the bed, you can use a couple of “L” brackets to attach the headboard side of your frame to the wall on the underside, making sure you’re screwing into a stud. This will make your bed practically flip-proof and extra safe.

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