What is a Captain’s Bed? Helpful Guide

Also known as a storage bed, it has a shallow box with a mattress on top and drawers on any side (except the headboard side).

A captain’s bed is an old design for optimizing storage for the captain of a ship. More recently these designs allow for a large amount of storage underneath in drawers. Some new designs include storage at the foot and the headboard as shelf space.

It is usually smartly designed and can be a beautiful elaborate addition to the bedroom decor or a simple DIY design. Its design optimizes floor space which is great for people:

  • Living in tiny homes.
  • Renting out bedrooms monthly to pilots and fly-in and out workers, etc.
  • Hoarders looking for additional storage to store crap they will never use (or throw out).
  • Teenagers wanting to avoid the family by living in the bedroom.
  • Renovating their boat cabin.
  • With tiny hunting camps.
  • Living in work camps.
  • Living full or part-time in their van.

History of Captain Bed

The name originated from the design of captains on ships. The Captain’s room is the biggest sleeping quarter on ships and in the old days, this is where many meetings would occur. So it was beneficial to have additional storage rather than hanging underwear around for other officers to see.

Space was considered a precious commodity in ship especially the farther back in time we look as ships were much smaller due to design limitations.

The level of the sleeping surface was raised higher than typical to make more room for storage drawers and maximize space.

Captain Bed Frame Detailed Guide

The popularity of this style has grown over the years as homeowners bought more “stuff” the manufacturers saw an opportunity to cash in with a new product offering. The goal is to provide homeowners with a comfortable, space-saving option is the same now as it was in the past.

My first experience with these was when I spent time on weekends and the summer at my cousin’s house. There was one bedroom with two twins and each had two drawers under them.

This was a novelty to a ten-year-old and I thought it was awesome. I had my “own drawers for my clothes and toys”.

There are many more options now with manufacturers getting creative with their designs for stand-alone and modular units where in the past where the frame was built into the structure of the ship.

Instead of drawers in Captain’s beds, flat panels can be used in place of drawers to create easy to access items or as bookshelves (but crawling on the floor to read the titles sucks!).

Product ImageStorkCraft Marco Island Captain's Bed with Trundle and Drawers - Twin (Gray)PrimeEligibleNo Results
Product ImagePrepac Captain's Platform Storage Bed with 6 Drawers, Twin, BlackPrimeEligibleNo Results
Product ImageDHP Cambridge Upholstered Faux Leather Platform Bed with Wooden Slat Support and Under Bed Storage, Button Tufted Headboard Queen Size - BlackPrimeNo Results
Product ImagePrepac Full Mate's Platform Storage Bed with 6 Drawers, BlackPrimeEligibleNo Results
Product ImageNovogratz Kelly Upholstered Bed with Storage, Ivory Linen, FullPrimeNo Results
Product ImageHillsdale Furniture Hillsdale Charlie Captains Bed with One Storage Unit, Twin GrayPrimeNo Results
Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Captain’s beds are now gaining popularity in children’s rooms as well as in those rooms where space is very less as each child now typically has enough toys to fill a dump truck or two.

When I was a child and the family of five went away for the weekend we all hopped in a VW Rabbit (pun intended), a tiny hatchback manufactured from 1978 to 1988.

Ahhh, I also remember thinking I am a man now because as a young teenager my father “let me” warm up the car in winters before he drove to work.

And it was a manual so it was super cool… it took me many years to learn about the word “manipulation”, mostly from women (no offense to women as men are equally bad for this in my experience).

Now parents, friends, siblings, and cousins explain to me how they cannot get by without a van or SUV for them and their one child due to the ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HAVE TOYS their three-year-old needs for survival during two days at the cottage. Advertisers are the ultimate manipulators!

AND every parent is responsible for rotating driving responsibilities for 15 sports and events each year for 8 children. Laugh if you want, but you know it is true.

Families living in apartments have less space, so this storage frame is an excellent option.

Not such a great option for your friends how were nice enough to move you seven times in the past four years.

And helped you dismantle and reassemble the bed (but thanks for the pizza and a couple of beer).

Captain’s Bed Options

Many options are available from creative designers these days including:

  • Slat or solid platform for mattress (no box spring required).
  • Headboards (or headless) with simple wood panel designs to ornate designs from multiple hardwoods, upholstery stain or paint, bookshelves, drawers, and reading lights.
  • Footboard (or footless, no not Footloose).
  • Deep drawers with shallow or deep capacity depending on the design.
  • Navigation lights from below like a super fancy night light.
  • If you have more room space and you need more storage you can buy a captain bed with multiple rows of drawers.
  • Combination of any of the above. Create your own design and take the plan to your local furniture or kitchen manufacturer to get a quote for your exact plan.

For more information feel free to check out my article Captain’s King Storage: Save Money, Store Crap, & More here.

Matching Color with Room Decor

You can buy any color captain bed according to your room’s paint color, curtains, flooring, and existing furniture. Darker colors go well with light colors and vice versa.

Similarly, if your room is small and dark and the captain’s bed is too the room will feel even smaller. If you have multi-color room décor then go with white or another light color that is neutral.


Typically the storage drawers and shelves are constructed with solid wood with multiple coats of stain or paint. It is aesthetic and will last for years with minimum care and maintenance.

As much space as possible is needed for the storage under the frame so the platform is higher than most so there is no height to allow for a box spring. Unless you want to climb up into a bunk bed without a lower bed.

The top platform material is usually one of two options; wood slats with no more than a 3″ gap or a sheet of plywood to provide support to the entire mattress.

The construction of the structure should be built with quality lumber and plywood. Look for MDF (Medium-Density Board) in the construction of the frame.

MDF is adequate for drawer faces, headboards and footboards, and even shelving and is a very popular material for building kitchens.

But you and your 100 lb+ partner don’t sleep and wrestle on kitchen cabinets so chose sold wood construction for the structure for a bed that will last.

quality plywood

Does it Need a Box Spring

A captain’s bed does not need a box spring due to the need for the platform to be as high as possible to allow for storage underneath. They are built with solid, or near solid platforms to fully support a mattress.

So if you are in love with your box spring, or the wife just bought one to go with the new king… perhaps you can hand it down to one of the children and place to twins on it 🙂 Happy wife happy life.


Captain’s bed sizes include the standard twin, full, queen, and king. They are manufactured according to the need and demands of the consumer.

Take measurement of the dimensions of the bedroom and choose a size that fits well (don’t sandwich a king in a small room just because you want a king, or the king is on sale, or the local thrift store has one for $50.

Not to mention you may not be able to open the drawers without smashing your legs). Depending on the space you can choose from different sizes with single, double, or multiple rows of the drawers.

Twin Captain’s Bed

Six drawer and 19 inches:

Increase your storage space in a small bedroom with the help of a twin-size Captain Bed. Some have six deep drawers with around (19″) of depth.

It provides plenty of storage space for your stuff, including socks, underwear, t-shirts, shorts, toys, comics, the Hot Wheel collection, and GI Joe action figures (I am dating myself here), etc.

It is the best attractive option that one can have for a small room (also suitable to single adult men so they can store their Hot Wheels collection and GI Joes).

Ok, I am making it obvious that I am a guy writing this article

Full Captain’s Bed

Three drawer 39 inch:

It is the simplest design option with double hardwood pull knobs or metal handles and three roomy drawers. It will suit best with your interior and will match with all kind of your renovations that you will do in the future. It is provided with curved edges for better protection, stability.

It gives a lot of storage for seasonal items which have three drawers with simple opening alloy slides. Three drawers are present on only one side and are reversible, so you can place them against a wall on one ether side of the bedroom.

Queen and King Captain’s Bed

Four drawer 54 inch:

This model has a frame with space with storage is the center point for any room. The mattress, higher quality, and compact design which includes its classy metallic alloy grips along with the curved corners for better protection, which makes it well suited for practically any bedroom.

The comfortable frame has three to six drawers with easy opening alloy slides. All drawers are on the same side and can be reversed to the opposite side. Storage options can also include shelves in place of some drawers and headboards with shelves.

I have even seen a really awesome footboard design for mounting a television. Brilliant! Why place the 264″ tv on the bureau (making the bureau top useless) when you can place it on top of the footboard out of the way and closer for my aging eyes?

Bookcase 6 Drawer Storage

The bookcase model provides a lot of space for placing books while utilizing little space. It provides shelves to store books, remotes, magazines, remotes, and more. These books shelves are available on the headboard and one on either side underneath.

Trundle and Drawers

This option consists of a “hide-a-bed” where one complete bank of drawers pulls out a mattress on wheels for double the sleeping occupancy for the bedroom.

Perfect for when your kid’s friends stay for the weekend! Most designs also include three drawers above or below the pull-out mattress AND a headboard with many shelves. What an awesome design and many are reasonably priced at less than $600 and well constructed.

trundle bed with drawers in stairs
Trundle bed with storage drawers in stairs

Charlie Captain’s Bed One Storage Unit

This one comes in twin-size and consists of one large storage space with four drawers on the face. The entire unit pulls forward on wheels and ball bearings and can be used as a huge toy box. The last one-third of the space is usually open-shelf storage but can also have one or two drawers.

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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