How to Build a Minimalist Bed Frame: 6 Types I Have Made


I have slept in just about every possible configuration you can think of. Some highlights include sleeping on the forest floor while fishing, in a cube truck “casket” for six months, box spring and mattress on the floor, sleeping bag on the floor, sleeping bag on a lift of drywall on construction sit for two months and all the ones listed below too.

Minimalist bed frame DIY options include milk crate and pallet bed frames, homemade box spring bed frame converted to platform foundation, mattress or sleeping bag on the floor, hammock, and box spring and mattress on the floor with skirt cover.

Minimalist Bed Ideas

I have slepton every minimalist type that I can think of and I am listing them here for your information and enjoyment (I chuckled a few times at my situations over the years).

If you have one that you would like to see added to the article please feel free to send me an email and I will add it. Let me know if you want me to credit you for the idea too. Thanks.

What to Sleep on if You Don’t Have a Bed?

A hammock with a stand can be a cheap, providing better sleep, saving space, and helping your tired back.

Many people are switching to hammocks for these reasons and I must admit they are very comfortable.

Hammocks: My Current Life With Hammocks

I have three hammocks in Thailand and I use a couple of others around the house. I sometimes spend the night in one but I have a serious case of “happy feet”.

I kick, squirm, flip, and flop all night.

I am considering sleeping in a hammock for a month to see if I can cure my 51-year habit.

I have one hammock at the adobe toilet/shed/relax building. Another in the bamboo forest on the farm, and another in a hut near the earthbag house.

While writing this I just realize that I should install another hammock in my bedroom at the main house in the village.

My room has two small thin mattress pads on the floor with a bug net over it.

A small wardrobe cabinet for hanging my shorts, shirts, and one pair of jeans.

The walls are thin wood siding type wood held together with horizontal wood 2x4s which hold my toiletries, and change. This is minimalist haha.

I remember I sent a few photos of the bedroom to my friend in Vancouver and his reply was “It looks like you got robbed” haha.

I am so used to it that it took me a second to understand this ain’t normal in the USA, Canada, or Europe.

Before I came to Thailand my room only had a platform foundation and foam mattress. My clothes were hung in a closet, so I am used to being a minimalist.

Mattress on Floor: My Main “Bed” in Thailand

Hundreds of millions, possibly one billion, people sleep on a thin mattress on the floor. I had no idea about this until I started spending winters in Thailand.

Now it makes soooo much sense. I should have realized this a few years ago when I spent many months sleeping on a thin mattress on plywood a cube truck bunk.

Actually it was more than six months, wow.

Maybe I have been a minimalist for longer than I realized haha. Living in a plywood box only slightly higher than a casket did not bother me at all.

Easy to clean 🙂

mattress on floor

How do You Make a Minimalist Bed?

To make a minimalist style that require zero tools and materials to options that require a hammer, nails, and some free wood or crates.

There are many ways to make a minimalist bed and as I write this I realize that I have made most of these myself over the years.

Milk Crate Platform Foundation

If you do not want to lower yourself to my level (on the floor that is) you can use another favorite:

Free furniture I used while living in an apartment with zero furniture and only a sleeping bag.

Four of us left Nova Scotia to travel 4,000 km to work in the oil fields. We were teenagers and had limited funds as you can imagine.

Milk Crates!!! we made a table and chairs out of milk crates “borrowed” from the local store alley. These can also work as a base for a platform foundation for a mattress.

If you have the funds you can add 3/4″ plywood to the top with tie wraps holding the crates and plywood together.

If funds are super tight you can just toss the mattress on the milk crates and hope it holds up long enough for you to generate some income.

Free Pallet Bed Foundation

A free pallet bed foundation is a super easy minimalist option. Pick up two, four, or six pallets from the local lumber yard and while there grab some steel straps from their yard.

These are used to hold lifts of lumber together and you can use them to fasten the pallets together with screws or nails.

Two pallets give you a height of 6.5″ to set your mattress on. If you are a real prima donna you can add a second row for 13″ or even three total rows for a bed platform height of 19.5″.

If you are vain and only a minimalist due to a lack of funds you can toss a box spring skirt on the foundation and nobody will know.

You will have a kick-ass free DIY bed platform that is strong enough for a family of elephants.

Well, 4,600 lbs at least. I am not sure how much a family of elephants weigh.

Minimalist Bed Frame: Wood

Ok, so you didn’t go to the bar last weekend so you still have $100 bucks in your wallet and you want to invest in a simple bed frame made of wood that would make minimalists proud.

A simple solution is to stop by the hardware store on the way home from work before you land at the local pub and piss away the $100. Pick up materials for your project including:

  • Wood for the frame will require lumber:
    • three 8′ for Twin
    • three 8′ for Twin XL
    • two 8′ and one 10′ for Full
    • two 8′ and one 10′ for Full XL
    • two 8′ and one 10′ for Queen
    • four 8′ for King and California King
  • Wood for the joists for each can all be 2″ x 4″ fastened within the frame on 12″ or 16″ centers (10″ gaps). The joists are installed on edge and flush with the top of the frame. Lengths for each bed size are:
    • Twin: three 8′
    • Twin XL: three 8′
    • Full: three 10′
    • Queen: three 10′
    • King and California King: six 8′
  • 50 pack of 3.5″ screws or nails for fastening the lumber together.

Table 1. Lumber Cost for Each Size (plus tax):

Size4″ Frame6″ 8″ 10″ 12″
Twin$18.90$39.06$52.62$59.88$81.42
Twin XL$18.90$39.06$52.62$59.88$81.42
Full$27.70$45.90$57.54$70.84$100.22
Queen$27.70$45.90$57.54$70.84$100.22
King$31.15$65.10$87.70$117.60$162.84
California
King
$31.15$65.10$87.70$117.60$162.84

When I worked for the telephone company about 150 years ago I remember doing an install in a fraternity house. In one of the bedrooms, the renters had a great idea.

They built an upper-level platform that hung from the ceiling over the lower-level bed.

They had heavy-duty eye hooks screwed through the plaster and into the second-floor joists. Cables connected the 2″ x 4″ frame and plywood top and it obviously was strong as you can imagine this DIY likely was often tested for strength.

Box Spring and Mattress on Floor

The simplest solution is a box spring and mattress on the floor and uses a box spring skirt to hide the frame-less bed. This is even easier if you have a tall box spring and mattress as it will add height even more height.

If you have a box spring and mattress but not a bed frame and cash is tight, or you just want to keep your belongings to 100 items or less like Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme, then you can just place them on the floor.

If you don’t have a box spring you can pick one up for free on garbage days that allow furniture disposal. There will be many at the curb waiting to be salvaged.

This isn’t like dumpster diving for a mattress as there is no human contact with a box spring so it should not be unsanitary.

With most people stuck at home with the pandemic this is a great time to become creative and consider the possibility of a simpler life.

Perhaps we don’t need to keep up with the neighbors and siblings.

Maybe invest the $500 that you can save with a minimalist bed frame DIY project.

You may as well how to learn how to build a headboard here and a footboard bench here. I wrote these articles at about the same time.

Scott Boyd

A semi-retired workaholic in Thailand is a challenge. It is too hot to keep building adobe and earthbag buildings so a new project was needed. I became interested in bed frames after purchasing a bamboo bed frame from a local supplier here and I learned there is little information about them on the Internet. So now I spend my days researching, testing, and reporting my findings to help others while having an occasional beer and istening to 60s and 70s B side rock, blues, and much more.

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