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Bunk beds

Bunk beds have long been a god-send for parents looking to make the most of a boxy room shared by their little ones - but anyone with experience of putting up (and then, just a couple of weeks down the line) throwing away dodgy flat-pack furniture will know that it's important you make sure you don't rush into into a poor purchase.

Shopping

It should go without saying that a second hand buy - unless you know and trust the source and it's either relatively new or in excellent nick - is probably a bad idea. This is because bunk beds can easily lose structural integrity from being disassembled and then reassembled again.

New frames are relatively cheap on their own - you can get a sturdy metal or wooden one from Ikea or Argos for somewhere in the region of £150 to £300 - so there's really no need to cut corners. Play it safe and go for something you know is fresh off the shelves, and has all of its nuts and bolts included in the assembly pack.

Here are a few other retailers to consider:

- Dreams

- Very

- Tesco

- Bedroom World

Space

Bunk beds are normally bought as a way to accommodate two children (or guests) at once, but you can also use them for extra storage space by choosing a bunk bed with a desk or wardrobe that tucks in beneath the mattress. This is a great way to make the room seem bigger than it really is.

These are even beginning to become popular for singletons who live in cramped urban spaces. Known as "loft beds" you can essentially store all of your clothes (as well as accommodate a PC and monitor) beneath a bed that sits just below the ceiling. They're bad news for anyone who jumps out of bed in the morning, and they are a little pricier at £400 to £500 a piece - but well worth a look for anyone looking to free up some extra room in their living area.

For loft beds, check out places like Mrs Flat Pack Furniture, as well as the more bespoke ranges found online.

Safety

As alluded to above, safety is a big concern when it comes to using bunk beds - particularly if you're planning to buy one for a young child without the experience of sleeping so high up.

If you're a particularly worried parent, you should certainly consider taking additional precautions in addition to buying a well-designed and assembled bunk bed. This may include, for example, fitting an additional guard rail or headboard that provides that extra bit of security and prevents them from falling out.

Remember that, if you have a wooden flooring below, the bed (and especially the attached ladder) can easily slip and slide about the floor as your child climbs around on it. Opt for carpet or a rug underneath, and if possible clamp the structure to the ground to make sure it doesn't jump around.

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