Published on May 30th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Malm Captain’s Bed for tiny NYC Apartment

Materials: MALM 6-Drawer Dresser, EKBY TONY/ EKBY BJARNUM, NISSE Folding Chair, 2x4s, Plywood Scraps, Shelving Board

Description: I have a tiny bedroom (about 6ft by 7ft) in a 3-bedroom apartment in New York City and was looking for a way to make the best use out of the space. As a student, I still wanted a desk space to do my work so that was a must. When I first moved into the space I was using the Tromso loft with the desk attachment underneath and that was about it. Being a tall person however (I’m about 6’1″) I quickly found that a twin loft bed was just not going to work in the long term.

When I stumbled upon Ikeahackers and and saw some Malm hacks for storage beds it got me thinking about how I could make my own custom built for the space, and with the help of my father and uncle here is the result! I could not be more happy with the way it turned out!

The basic structure of the bed is an L-shaped table that was built to surround the dresser, which is free-standing. Since the dresser is only 63″ wide by about 19″ deep, the supporting structure needed to compensate for the rest of the bed, which overall is 74″ wide by 54″ deep. It is made of the 2×4′s which were doubled up to make about 8 4×8 legs upon which the plywood top was attached. These legs were then connected and reinforced by cladding the inside with additional 2×4′s that go around the perimeter. The unfinished end of the bed that was added beyond the dresser and the desk that was made to come off the end was made out of the finished shelving board which matches the finish on the Malm dresser almost perfectly!

The shelves above the desk are the EKBY TONY/ EKBY BJARNUM which were actually too big for the space. So my dad just measured them and cut them down to the right size before attaching them to the wall. The computer was put into place prior to attaching them to the wall to get the perfect height of the lowest shelf and then the books were put into place to figure out the placement of the upper shelf. The chair at the desk is the NISSE folding chair, which I am thinking about putting on the wall with hooks when not in use, but I am thinking that is not necessary as I have more room than I thought I would!

Overall the construction took about 6 hours and turned out pretty great if I do say so myself!! Would love to know what you all think as I love this site!

~ Peter M, New York, NY

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

52 Responses to Malm Captain’s Bed for tiny NYC Apartment

  1. Elisabeth Tonning says:

    Hi! I’ve been thinking to build one of these beds for my kids. But I’m wondering if the dresser can handle the weight of one or to almost adult persons… How does the dresser handle, now after these years?

  2. Dhini says:

    Would you like to show more pictures (details en how to)
    Thank you

  3. Peter says:

    Thanks again everyone for the amazing comments on this post! I still love how this turned out. Just to clarify if it wasn’t clear, this bed IS a full size mattress. Before undertaking this project I had a twin lofted in the space, but opted to make this captain’s bed and upgrade to a full. I recently finished grad school and so I no longer needed the desk space as often as I did before so I ripped it out and got a Brimnes 2-door wardrobe in it’s place. Then to fill the gap between the bed and the wardrobe I found a small closet organizer from closetmaid to act as a nightstand. I think it turned out really well and I have a TON more storage in the room now! Here’s some updated pics! Would love to hear what you guys think of the update :)

    • Talya Solomon says:

      I’m not handy at all but looking for alternative bed solutions . Would it just work to get the Ikea storage unit and plop a matress over it and not hook it to the wall or make any modifications . Would it still work well and stay in place ?

  4. Kathy says:

    hi… I wonder if that would work to make a double bed… Have a dresser on both sides? Mmm gotta tey that

    • Peter says:

      This one is a double bed, but I didn’t have the space to do one on either side, but I would imagine it would work if you just found a way to support the middle

  5. Sage says:

    Hi! I was reading on ikea and it said to secure the dressers into the wall, do you really have to? Also could you post more picture please? I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while and I would love to see more of how yours turned out!
    Thanks, Sage.

  6. Lynn says:

    Peter I think you done a GREAT job !! This is exactly what I have plans for our little boys room so he can have more area to play. Our bedrooms are not real big and by the time you get a queen bed dressers a desk and toy box well that leaves walking space and that’s it. I have looked at these new style loft beds and they are nothing more then exactly what you have made except for the price tag ! They are also always a twin. We can also put another dresser at the foot of the bed on his and am thinking if the platform for the mattress or be put on hinges so the mattress can lift up for storage of items not uses often. I seen the beds with hinges on Pinterest FABULOUS !! They were king size beds even. Great job on your space !! One last thing NOT directed towards you in any way but these others who want to spat back and forth just because one THINKS some one is rude etc that is sooo ridiculous or arguing back and forth over some thing so trivial !!! Waste of my time having to scan over your ridiculous spatting. Just as the one states If you don’t like it don’t comment well same goes if you don’t like some ones comments don’t comment on their comment !! These sites our to share our ideas with others we can use the same idea or tweak it to our liking Keep things civil and peaceful there is plenty of war going on in the world today to bring this type of grips and complaints on every social site on the internet today. I look for ideas that will help our life style and find plenty of great ideas if I don’t like how some one did some thing I leave it to myself Others need to learn the same and it’s called RESPECT which seems that in today’s world not many people even know the word let alone the meaning of it !! Well Peter I think you did a fantastic job and thanks for sharing with us. It’s a perfect project that I wasn’t sure myself if it would work but thanks to you sharing with us well now I know it does work so off to plan my project so our little one will have some play area !!

  7. anon says:

    how much was this?

    • Peter M says:

      With the price of the dresser at $149 and the use of scrap materials etc., the bed itself was only about $250. Overall for the desk portion and all the shelves it was about $400 total so not bad at all I don’t think and it’s still going strong after 2 years in the space!

  8. Me Too says:

    Wow! Great idea and job on your bed/dresser/desk!

    And after reading all the comments, kudos to the readers who disagreed and then were mature enough to actually communicate respectfully with each other. What a breath of fresh Internet-forum air!

  9. Haely says:

    Great hack! I made a full size version for my own smell apartment in DC. It’s started to get really creaky, I think I’m going to add some WD40 to it but do you or anyone else have any other suggestions?

  10. TDS says:

    It looks great, Peter! I’m really impressed! I’m all the way on the left coast in San Diego and just moved to a studio. I’m going to copy you! How tall is the dresser? Is it just one dresser? Cause I’m seeing two three drawer malm dressers on the ikea site and I was thinking about pushing them together and then using a third at the foot of the bed for an L-shaped dresser bonanza because I will have this in the corner with one side and the foot of the bed exposed. I’m not sure how exactly to do the 2×4′s and plywood, but I’ll figure it out cause I’m a woman with tools! Lol. Thanks for the great idea. Haven’t been happy with the ‘storage beds’ I’ve been seeing online and stumbled onto your post. Thanks!

  11. S.c says:

    Also planning the queen sized underbed storage ,as much as possible for a daylight basement living area to same with family.How do you plan the double storage as you wrote above?

  12. R says:

    This is EXACTLY what I was thinking of doing in my new place! I came to this site to look for things similar, to inspire how I’d do my hack, and then I found your bed – amazing. Seriously, this is **exactly** what I was looking for (except I’m making mine a Queen size, with double the storage underneath)
    Thank you!

    p.s. I second all of the other requests for more detail photos of the bed frame construction.

    • E says:

      Did you ever end up making your queen bed this way? I have a queen bed now and have been looking for ways to do this but everything I come across is for full beds!

  13. Peter says:

    Thanks so much everyone for the great comments!! I tried to respond to as many as I could right now, but love all the feedback! This was a total labor of love project and I will have to update with some new pictures as I have made a bunch of changes to the decor even in the last week or so!

    Keep em’ coming!

  14. majeral says:

    This is not about the hack but does everyone have a hard time with special codes to put in? even with a magnifier I can not read most of them? whats with that?

    • Anonymous says:

      I have hard time with that and also to go back to main page, i am always stuck on comment page. I have to reload the site page again.

  15. majeral says:

    great hack, how do you feel about going to Texas and making a cool bed? lol Don’t listen to the “ney sayers” can’t say anything nice Don’t say anything at all.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is awesome! Loose the chair though. Back problems are preprogrammed with it. I used to work on one like that. It’s just not designed for long computer sessions.

    • Peter says:

      I would agree with you–I don’t really use it that much though and got a folding chair in the expectations that I would be putting it up on the wall with hooks when not in use, but have found that I don’t really need the extra space that would provide! So I’ll keep it for now…I really picked the chair because it matched with all the white in the room!

  17. Tim Gray says:

    This would work beautifully in a micro home! Kudos!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Bravo – well-done. And hey, you have a window – great!
    Amy – Chicago, IL

  19. Anonymous says:

    Bravo – well-done. And hey, you have a window – great.
    Amy – Chicago, IL

  20. Atom Salad says:

    Love those creative New Yorkers! Where there’s a will there’s a way!!

    • Peter says:

      Ha–a definite make it work city! I actually don’t have a closet in this room even, so I share the hall one with one of my roommates…but I’m in my early 20′s, a student, and I live in one of the most amazing cities in the world so I would do anything to make it work!

  21. Zulaya says:

    Dear Anonymous 3,

    If you simply HAD to say something, you could have phrased it as a question and sounded less rude (For example: I am curious, would it have worked to put an expedite…). That way you assume the poster had reasons that you just didn’t know. Since it was THEIR project, and THEIR house, and THEIR unfilled need they were creating a fix for.

    However, looking at the hack, why in the world WOULD they have an Expedit? From the angle I’m looking at, there isn’t space at the end of the Malm. The bed is up against 3 walls (ie, every side that ISNT a Malm), and there’s not enough room in what the author calls a “Tiny NYC apartment”) to move that bed around, even if it were on casters, which it isn’t. So putting these mythical Expedits around the bed just makes for space that, in order to access, you have to lift off the whole bed. I suppose that works for storing…uh… Winter coats in July? But anything you might want to switch out more than once a year, that’s a LOT Of hassle. Personally? Too much hassle even for coats in July, but maybe in a Tiny NYC apartment it’d be worth it. MAYBE. Oh, and winter coats in July that you have to lift the whole bed for DON’T NEED EXPEDITS! You can just stuff them in boxes and put them under the bed. Expedits only make any sense at all if you can reach them WITHOUT lifting the bed, which he can’t with all 3 sides up against walls.

    BTW, if you’d phrased it as a question, I wouldn’t have done the facepalm there. Because you’d have assumed that the OP was intelligent, and therefore I’d have assumed you were intelligent and that maybe my perspective was wrong or there was something I didn’t see.

    Anonymous 4: Your English was fine. I’d have assumed you were a native speaker if you hadn’t excused yourself. It’s much better than my French, or than my Spanish, and then we run out of things I’d even consider trying:)

    • Anonymous says:

      I think by expidit on castors he meant a hack from a little while ago but i agree with the way he said his comment.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry you think it sounds rude. For all I know, Peter is using that space and he just forgot to mention it. Or he doesn’t need it. Or he considered full-depth shelves and chose to use the dresser instead, which does look nicer than Expedit. Or maybe there’s a radiator, or a column, or a monster was already living on that side of the room and still needs the space. I really don’t know. That’s why I said “it seems like”.

      See my reply above for a clarification on the Expedits. No need for lifting the bed. But maybe cut down on the caffeine a little.

    • Peter says:

      Yeah–I am using the space under the bed for extra storage of suitcases, etc…stuff I don’t really use that much

      The dresser is free-standing so it slides in and out to access everything if I really need it for any reason!

    • Zulaya says:

      Suggestion on caffeine noted. Sorry if I came off as overly abrassive. It wasn’t meant that way. I am overly sensitive to “You should have” type comments. It’s probably my issue, not yours. But I always try to go with “could you have…” or “Hey, that would also work if…” I am trying to understand if you think he could add an expedit to the setup, in which case, I really don’t see how or if he has space. It looks like it’s too cramped for an expedit ADDED ON to the current space, but I don’t have a tape measure, and haven’t memorized the dimensions of all possible expedits. If you meant expedits instead of, as it sort of seemed like you might be, then it can be read like a criticism “You should have used expedits instead of malm.” And maybe that would be possible, but, and again, this may be my issue not yours, that sounds like “you did it wrong” to my ear. I absolutely LOVE all the great ideas I get from this website, and I have a vested interest in people posting all their brilliant ideas, because I have exactly 0 brilliant ideas. I’m afraid if people feel they’re being criticized, they won’t post. So I’m being selfishly defensive. I love comments like “If you wanted, you could add a to have some extra space in that corner, too.” which makes more of a “great idea! Wow, and if you run with that, it can become even better!”

      Anyway, sorry if I looked like someone who needed decaf. (I actually don’t drink coffee, but I like that you went with “woah, calm down a bit” instead of “Back off wench!” so thanks:)

    • Anonymous says:

      And I tend to say ‘you should have’ meaning ‘did you think about…’ so I’ll work on not using that again. It does sound like ‘you were wrong’, but I did not mean to say that. The room looks very sharp and wonderfully liveable the way it is. (And thank you for your calming reply too.)

      Yes, I was thinking about using Expedits instead of Malm. But as it turns out, Peter chose to leave the large open space for bulky storage. I didn’t realize the dresser could slide out. The Expedits can only store small boxes and would really have cut down on what could be stored there, so obviously he thought about it a lot more than I did. Peter’s solution is better than my suggestion in every way. :D

  22. Hanging Light says:

    Wow I really like your room lighting and also decoration of bedroom. Its looks very beautiful,simple and comfort.

    • Peter says:

      Thanks!! I’ll have to get some new photos! I actually ended up doing a really cool stenciled paint treatment to the wall behind the bed to make it a focal wall and getting new bedding that goes along with the color scheme of the room more. I couldn’t love this tiny little space more than I do!!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Very nice hack, and looks like a lot of thought went into the whole thing. End result looks very clean too. I hope you have a separate (shared) living area though, because that is a small space! If not, I would consider adding a wall folding mechanism to the bed so that 60% of your space isn’t permanently filled with a bed.

    • jo says:

      here, in italy, a 2x2m is not even a bedroom!!!! maybe a bathroom…
      maybe i’m not too much into new york, but peter, the op, said it is a 3bedroom apartment, and, if it has 3 bedrooms, to me it’s logical to think it can have some kind of living too.

      and i like the hack, very nice and practical

    • Peter says:

      ha, yeah it’s a 3 bedroom apartment with a pretty large living/dining area and a HUGE kitchen as far as manhattan is concerned. I really only use my room for sleeping, watching tv and getting away from my roommates whenever I feel like being alone :)

  24. Anonymous says:

    wow, some testy stuff going on around here.

    first off i wanna say nice hack! it looks really nice, congratulations on successfully fitting a queen(?) sized bed into your tiny apartment room, I really like it.

    I totally agree with your assessment that expedits wouldnt really make much sense if the bed mattress cant be lifted. however im failing to see how that anonymous poster 3 has offended anyboday.
    he said he liked it but had some suggestions to offer. IMO it wasnt phrased in the nicest way possible and probably wasnt well thought through but i cant see anything offensive about his comment either. to be honest your sounding so much more aggressive in your post than anonymous poster 3 did in his post.

    • Zulaya says:

      Thanks for pointing that out, sincerely. I wasn’t trying to be aggressive. I was trying to be supportive of the OP, but maybe I was being overly sensitive to something that wasn’t meant as a criticism.

      I’ll try not to do it again:)


  25. mydecoreview says:

    Even we have done a similar bed in the kids room. But unlike drawer, it is more of a storage place. If we need to use it as a bed, then just put mattress over that.

  26. Anonymous says:

    last anon, if you suggest the expedit solution, do you expect Peter to remove everything, buy new expedit(s) and build a new bed ? Your comment is purely rude.
    I accept that sometime the project is realy bad and is “revolting”, in which case maybe you can have your word; If you like it, say it, otherwise your ideas whichever would be better, keep for your projects. Dont’ forget to take pictures and post them.

    To everyone, sorry for my English.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your English is fine, but your reaction to my comment is very surprising. As I said, Peter’s solution looks great and I’m not sure where you got the idea that I thought it was bad or revolting, or that he should change it.

      Peter asked for opinions on his solution. I always read the comments on neat projects to see if readers have other solutions for the project and was hoping to provide an alternative that another reader might find useful.

      His dresser is 20 cubic feet in size but his solution appears to leave over 38 additional cubic feet of empty, inaccessible space under the bed behind the dresser. That’s almost two additional dressers’ worth of space. An alternative way to achieve (almost) the same result is to place four 2×4 Expedits on their long sides, with the openings lined up and facing sideways toward the door. This would create long ‘tunnels’ allowing the use of that space. Like or .

  27. Anonymous says:

    It looks great, but it seems like there’s a lot of wasted space behind the dresser under the bed. You could use that space if you replaced the dresser with several 2×4 Expedit bookcases placed sideways, and stored clothes and other items in pull-out boxes.

    • Peter says:

      Unfortunately, the room is SO small that the bed almost literally extends from one end to the other. I thought about putting something like an expedit at the end, but was on a budget and didn’t think that it would help me that much storage wise (or aesthetics-wise) to add that to the design. So instead I left a small gap between the wall and the foot of the bed (about 6″) and that is where I store big things like my duffle bags, winter boots, etc–the stuff that I don’t really use all that much. Plus since my original post I have added a picture ledge at the head of the bed for more decoration and a place to put my book (currently reading Mockingjay) and a glass of water or something:

      I also added a a Besta Burs cabinet along the wall for added storage:

      So I actually don’t really need the extra space…more storage just means I have more stuff and living in the heart of Manhattan on a budget I have learned that less is more!

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re right, the room works better with the Malm. I need to learn the less is more lesson! Congrats on an awesome design.

  28. riz-o-riz says:

    Looks lovely I will probably try the same thing in my tiny bedroom^^
    Coud you put some photos of the bed structure without the mattress please? It would be really helpful^O^

  29. Tiina says:

    Looks great! At first I didn’t even realise that there was Malm below the bed, so, well done. :)

  30. Anonymous says:

    Looks great! Congratulations!

  31. Anonymous says:

    How does the air flow underneath the bed to protect the matress from mould? would love to see more pictures.

    thanks and hf!

    • Peter says:

      The base of the rest of the bed is plywood and then we cut holes throughout the surface of it to help facilitate the air flow and prevent molding! Thanks for the comment :)

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