How To Build a Closet Loft

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 I’ll skip all the preliminary greetings today and just jump right to the project. We are IN LOVE with our closet loft and want to help you make a special spot for your kiddos! Seriously, take some of this tutorial or all of it and customize to build a closet loft in your house. I know you won’t regret it.

Oh and if you missed the loft reveal last week and want to see a thousand more pictures of it, check that out here!

DIY Reading Loft in a Closet Tutorial

Let’s jump right to it!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

84″ 2×4 (6) – 2.48 each

92″ 2×4 (1) – 2.92

Screws – 7.98

Nails – Owned

3″ Foam pad – $25 (found at Home Depot)

8′ Piece of finish hardwood – $10

Plywood – Owned

Fence Brackets (2) – .67 each

3″ Angle Bracket (2) – 1.23 each [optional]

Tools Used: Hammer, Level, Drill, Air compressor, nail gun, miter saw and staple gun

Step 2: Demo Closet and Prep

 The first thing that we did was demo the closet. We knew that we needed to take out an upper shelf to have room for the loft so we took that out. Then we took the clothes bar down. We patched the areas where those had been. We also filled in the hinge hole areas. You can find our tutorial for doing that here.

Closet organization in boys room

Our closet has trim finished on the inside of the door jam, so we knew we would need to address that so that the loft would sit level against the door jam. For us, it worked best to take the trim off, install the loft, and then re-cut and re-install the trim.

Step 3: Measure and Decide on Height

 Our back wall measured 77 1/4 inches. We cut a 2×4 on the miter saw at that measurement.

Our side wall measured 22.5″ each. We cut 2 2×4’s to just a tick under 22.5″.

Step 4: Find Studs

 We are terrible at finding studs. We do the knock on the wall thing and sometimes we get lucky and other times not so much. So, we tap and mark where we think the stud is. At that point, we grab a tiny drill bit and drill in to see. Once you get your first one, it’s pretty easy to get the rest by counting. Our studs are the standard 16″ apart. It’s important to get your studs marked so you make sure your overall loft is going to be sturdy. We wanted to get every screw in a stud.

Loft Building Plans with Tutorial

Step 5: Attach 2×4’s

Attach the back 2×4 (77 1/4 inches long) on the wall where you want the base of your loft to be. Ours started about 50 inches from the floor. Make sure you are using your level and then screw two (LONG) screws in on every stud on the back wall. We had some deck screw sitting around that we used for this.

How to Build a Closet Loft

Take your two 2×4 side pieces (22.5″ each) and attach them on the wall. Even though you have measured out your box, make sure each piece is level with each other as you add on. For one of the sides, we could only find one stud (on one end). This is where we used the angle brackets. They allowed us to fasten the 2x4s to each other to add extra support on the end without a stud.

DIY Tutorial for Building a Kids Reading Loft

For the front piece, we waited to measure until the back and sides were on. With the trim taken off where you need your front 2×4 to go, or notched off, measure how long you need your front board to be. Our’s measured 74.3″. Cut your board. Attach your board to the side 2×4’s. Drill into the door jams for extra support.

How to Build a Kids Nook

DIY Tutorial for Building a Kids Reading Nook

Step 6:Cross Supports

Now, you have a box of 2×4’s on the wall and you need to have cross supports. Measure inside the box from the front 2×4 to the back 2×4. Ours measured 20 3/4″. We decided to have two cross supports spaced evenly. We cut two 2x4s to a hair under 20 3/4″ so that we could get our boards in. This is where your fence brackets come in. Use fence brackets to attach to the back 2×4’s. On the front, you will be able to drill through from the front 2×4 to the cross beams.

DIY Closet Reading Loft

Step 7: Cut Plywood

 Measure the “box” where your plywood floor will sit. We had leftover scrap plywood. We used two pieces (making sure the seam fell on a cross support) and screwed them in.

Build a Kids Closet Loft

How to Build a Kids Closet Loft

Step 8: Trim it Out

 The front of the loft needed something a little bit nicer than a 2×4. We picked up a white oak (I believe) board to have it be the face of the loft. We primed and painted it. Then, using a finish nailer, we attached it to the front of the 2×4.

DIY Ladder Tutorial for Reading Loft

Step 9: Build Ladder

 There are lots of bunkbed ladder tutorials floating around online. We read through a bunch and then ended up doing our own thing. It worked well for us because we had some spare 2x4s. We started by using a tape measure to estimate the length of the ladder. It also helped us get a feel for what angle we wanted (or how steep the ladder should be). Based off a tutorial, we started with a 30 degree angle and made a sharp corner at the top end of the ladder. Once we took it upstairs to test it out, we decided that it took up too much room and that the ladder needed to be more steep. Since we cut before we knew what we were doing, we had some spare wood that we used to fine-tune the angle. I recommend grabbing some scrap 2x4s to start with. Start with a 30 degree angle, hold it up to the loft, and see how it looks. If that sticks out to far, take another 10 degrees off of the angle (20 degrees) and try it out again. For us, about 15 degrees ended up being right.

DIY Ladder for Loft

Ladder Tutorial for Loft

Once we had the top angle fine-tuned, we needed to trim off the excess on top. The notches on bottom aren’t necessary, but they look nice and make it easier to cut a 15 degree angle on a small miter saw. Sometimes short-cuts pay off.

DIY Tutorial for Loft

For the step-width, we just put the two side rails in place and eye-balled the width and height between the steps. Just make sure you think about where the top step is going to lie and leave enough room up there. Once we know how many steps we needed and where they should go, we marked lines on the side rails, cut our wood, and then installed them with wood glue and 3″ finish nails.

Rungs for ladder

Using wood glue to make DIY Ladder

Ladder Tutorial for closet loft

How to make a ladder for a closet loft

As you can see, we wore safety gear while working with specific tools on the loft. We highly recommend using protective equipment and you can find lots of different options at Safety Stock.

Step 10: Sand & Paint

 The ladder and the front facing loft board all needed to be sanded really well. I used a pretty heavy sanding pad at first and then switched to a finer one.

Step 11: Install Foam and Fabric

We laid the foam out on the loft. It was almost a perfect fit! It fit the width completely (how lucky is that?), but we were about 4 inches short. We split the difference, so that each end had 2 inches short of foam. I had some leftover foam in the basement from making this headboard so I just cut a few strips and slipped them in.

To get the fabric cover, I stapled around the foam (kinda like you would a headboard). If we were doing this again, I would probably make a fitted slipcover for the foam instead. Luke had that idea after the fact and I think it’s great. That way, you could take if off and wash it easily.

Putting foam insert in Loft

Upholstering foam insert in loft

Putting in a foam insert in loft

Step 12: Secure Ladder and Patch

 After we attached the ladder and the front board, they both needed to have wood filler over the nails and then be sanded again. I put about two coats of paint over the whole thing after sanding and filling it.

We put the clothing bar up earlier in the loft build, but you could easily leave that to do last. On the right side of the loft, we have shelving. That shelving was original to the house, but again you could easily add that.

Let me know if you guys have any questions and I’ll try my best to answer!

DIY Reading Loft in a Closet Tutorial

More pictures of the finished loft can be found in the loft reveal post!

*I partnered with Safetystock for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Linking up to:

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    • says

      Thanks Laura! It’s the perfect little spot and I’m hoping it will grow with him. Time will tell. Good luck getting the general contractor on board! =)

  1. says

    This is amazing and well done! You now have me rethinking about my son’s closet. Thank you so much for the descriptive tutorial. I know those can be very time consuming to write. :)

  2. says

    Awesome post! Just came across your blog and I love your style! I’ve been sifting through tons of rustic cottage style DIY blogs and its refreshing to see someone with a similar design esthetic to mine.

    • says

      Thanks so much Mandie! There are a ton of cottage style blogs out there. Have you happened across Brave New Home or Hello Lidy? Both of their styles mesh up as well.

  3. says

    I love this idea!! The step by step pictures are great! Thank you so much for sharing! Pinned it! xx Ashleigh @SimplyWright #linkpartypalooza

    • says

      Thank you! Actually that was a find at Habitat Restore. It was an old magazine rack for a doctor’s office. We gave it some paint and hung it up. It’s HUGE but we love it! Thank you!

  4. says

    Oh, I’d love to have that Boy Cave as a kid, although having the top bunk was half-way there.

    Kids grow up fast, so some parents might want to tweak this design to make restoration easier. Just leave as much of the hardware in place as possible and save the materials.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer.

  5. says

    I love this, and the closet is nearly identical to my daughter’s. Can’t wait to start. Question for you, and I’m sorry if you’ve answered this elsewhere…when do you work on projects? Or more relevantly, what are your kids doing while you saw and sand and nail gun?

    • says

      Thanks Kate! We only have one kiddo. He “helps” on projects that he can help on or plays with legos. We usually have one work night a week that he knows he has to entertain himself during. Usually from around 5:30-8pm on that night… it’s strictly work. It works for our family pretty well.

  6. Caroline says

    It’s really great – my girls had something like this – they are born 11 years apart, My older daughter thought she had her own room, and the little one thought she was sharing!! Everyone was happy

  7. Heather P says

    This is fantastic! I had this idea in mind but didn’t know where to begin. Thank you so much for all the details and how to. We are putting it in my sons closet and hope to make it in a way that we can convert it to a desk when he’s older. Great job!


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