These under the bed storage drawers utilize every inch of space under the bed. They’ll make the perfect under bed dresser for your home!
I’d like to tell you a bit about my “guest” bedroom. You’ll note the “guest” is in quotes. It’s supposed to be a guest bedroom. But the reality is that I’ve been sleeping in it for over a year. The master bedroom upstairs isn’t quite ready for habitation (and might not be for a while,) so I’ve been guest bedroom-ing it up.
Like most guest bedrooms, my guest bedroom is small. Small enough that once my queen bed is in the room, there’s not a whole lot of space for anything else.
As a result, I’ve been living without a real dresser for the past year, instead pretending that some clothes-holding cardboard boxes are a reasonable alternative. Spoiler alert: they are not.
So when I tore my bedroom apart a couple weeks ago in order to refinish the floors, I decided that there was no way I’d put my bed back together without building under bed drawers first.
FYI, if you’re looking for a quick way to motivate yourself, sleeping on the living room floor until you finish the task is quite effective.
DIY Under Bed Storage: Plans and Ideas
I knew before I even started that I wanted my under bed storage to take the shape of fully enclosed drawers. There are a number of plans for under bed drawers on wheels out on the internet, but there are a couple issues with those that made me pass them up.
First of all, casters take up a lot of space, and I only had 7 inches to work with. Secondly, wheels are only easy to operate on a hard floor; there was a rug underneath my bed that would make smooth operation difficult.
So enclosed under bed drawers it was. Next up was figuring out dimensions. The distance from the top of my rug to the lowest part of the bed frame was 7″, so I determined the exterior height of my drawer would be 6 3/4″ inches.
I also needed to account for the nightstands next to the bed. When the drawers opened, they needed to clear the nightstands.
That gave me about 68″ from the end of the nightstands to the foot board. To give myself a little extra space, I made each drawer 32″, for a total of 64″ of drawer space, and 4″ of wiggle room.
Then I designed a little diagram to help me visualize the drawers. In order to maximize the interior dimensions of the drawers, I made everything out of 1/2″ plywood except the drawer front (which was 3/4″ plywood.)
Things looked like this:
While I’ll provide the dimensions I used in this post, I haven’t made printable plans because you’ll probably need to edit things to fit your own bedframe. However, I hope the process I detail helps you figure things out, and avoid little mistakes along the way!
Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.)
The materials I describe below are what is required for one drawer. Scale up to the number of drawers you plan on building.
- (1) 4’x8′ Sheet of 1/2″ Plywood – It worked out almost exactly that each drawer required a sheet of plywood.
- (1) Pair of Drawer Slides – I bought this five pack off Amazon, and they’ve been great so far.
- Drawer Front Material – I used some scrap 3/4″ birch plywood I had around, however more 1/2″ plywood, or trimmed 1″ x 8″ could suffice as well. I opted for the 3/4″ plywood purely because it was nicer looking that the cheap 1/2″ plywood I’d purchased for the drawers. There was no structural advantage to using thicker plywood.
- Countersink Bit – This helps fully drive screws into the proper location.
- 3/4″ Screws – For building drawer.
- 1″ Pocket Hole Screws – For attaching drawer front
- 1/2″ Screws – For installing drawer slides. While many drawer slides (including the ones linked above) come with screws, the ones included are likely too long, and will poke through the 1/2″ plywood.
- Drawer Pull – I had these left over from my kitchen remodel.
Part 1: Build Drawer Frame
Step 1: Cut and Sand Frame Pieces
In my plan, the frame was built out of 1/2″ plywood, and the dimensions were as follows:
- Top and Bottom (2): 25 1/2″ x 32″
- Frame Sides (2): 25″ x 5 3/4″
- Frame Back: 32″ x 5 3/4″
Since I was using cheaper plywood, I sanded it down a fair amount before attaching the pieces. If you buy nicer, pre-sanded plywood, this might not be necessary.
Step 2: Attach Sides
I used a right angle clamp to set up the back and one side of the frame, along with a bar clamp to keep everything in place, as shown in the picture below:
To help keep everything level, I folded up some paper towels and placed them under the ends of the boards. I also checked that the corner was square one last time. Finally, I used a countersink bit to pre-drill the lower two screw holes that connect these pieces.
Then I added the two 3/4″ screws, removed the clamp, and added one more screw at the top of the joint.
If you’re wondering if pre-drilling and countersinking are absolutely necessary here, yes, I think so. Since the screw is entering through the end of a piece of plywood, it’s likely to split without being pre-drilled.
After the first side was attached to the back, I repeated this procedure for the second side.
Step 3: Add Bottom Piece
Flip the frame over, and place the bottom piece on top of the frame. Then secure each side to the frame by countersinking 3/4″ screws.
I think it’s particularly important to countersink the screws here, because if they stick out at all, they’ll raise the height of the drawer, which could be an issue. They could also scratch the floor, if you’re placing this on a hard floor.
Your frame should look like the above photo right now. You also should have a top piece sitting around somewhere. Just set that aside; we’ll add it to the frame after the drawer and drawer slides are in place.
Part 2: Build Drawer
Step 4: Prep Drawer Pieces
I made the drawer out of 1/2″ plywood. The following dimensions are what I generally used, however, I definitely measured the inside of the built drawer frame before I did any cutting. The drawer should end up exactly 1″ smaller than the frame in order for the drawer slides to install correctly, so sometimes I edited my dimensions to make sure that happened.
- Drawer Bottom: 29″ x 24″
- Drawer Back: 30″ x 5 1/2″
- Drawer Sides (2): 24″ x 5 1/2″
Once the drawer pieces were cut, I added pocket holes to the front of the drawer sides, and the bottom of the drawer bottom. This is so the sides and bottom can ultimately attach to the drawer front. You can see how I aligned the pocket holes in the photo below.
Finally I sanded the pieces.
Step 5: Attach Sides
I attached the drawer sides the exact same way I attached the frame sides in Step 2.
Step 6: Install Drawer Bottom
The bottom is designed to go inside the drawer sides, not on top as the frame bottom did. So to install it, I clamped it into place front-back:
Then pre-drilled and drove screws from the back into the bottom of the drawer.
Then I clamped from side to side, and pre-drilled and drove screws from both sides into the drawer bottom.
Part 3: Install Drawer Slides
Note: In my head, this was a major ordeal, because the internet seemed to imply everything could go wrong. Therefore, the drawer slides got their own “part.” In reality, nothing went wrong during any of my drawers, and this took less than 20 minutes per drawer.
Step 7: Install Drawer Slides
This job is made much, much easier from the fact that the drawer slides sit at the bottom of the drawer. Therefore, there isn’t as much error when installing the slides, since they sit flat on the floor of the drawer frame.
Regardless, this was the first time I installed drawer slides in an actual drawer. I found this really helpful video that detailed installing the sides, and I highly recommend watching it before starting this step.
The general summary, though? The slides separate into two pieces, one that attaches to your drawer, the other that attaches to the drawer frame. Start by attaching the “frame” piece of the drawer slide to the frame.
It’s hard to mess this up, since the slide should be sitting on the frame bottom, all the way at the front of the frame, as seen in the picture below.
Then attach the second piece to the side of the drawer. It needs to be a very specific distance off the bottom of the drawer; to find out that distance, measure the primary slide from the bottom of the slide to the holes.
For me, that was 3/4″ of an inch. So therefore, the screws attached the drawer slide to the drawer exactly 3/4″ off the bottom of the drawer. See the linked video for a detailed explanation and demo of this.
Once both slides were installed, I slid the drawer into place.
Part 4: Finishing Touches
Step 8: Cut Front Pieces
I cut my front pieces to be 1/4″ shorter than the frame. This was because I didn’t want the fronts to drag across the floor, or on the bottom of the bed frame when I open the drawers.
By making the drawer fronts a little shorter, I can leave space below and above them. Therefore, my drawer fronts were each 32″ x 6 1/2″.
Step 9: Attach Drawer Fronts
To attach the drawer fronts, I opened the drawers a tiny bit, set the drawer in place, and marked on the back where the front should line up with the drawer. This made sure the drawer front was centered side-to-side on the drawer.
Then I opened the drawer all the way, set the drawer front in place, and folded some paper towel under the drawer front. This lifts the drawer front off the ground and ensures it doesn’t rub on the floor as it opens.
Then I added 1″ pocket hole screws to the pocket holes I drilled in step 4. This includes the pocket holes on both sides of the drawer, as well as the bottom of the drawer.
Step 10: Add Frame Top
Using 3/4″ screws, pre-drill holes from the top-down, and attach the top of the frame to the sides of the frame. I found it was easier to do this step after installing the front (or really, it was easier to install the front first,) but truly the two steps are interchangeable.
Step 11: Add Drawer Pulls
I didn’t use any fancy equipment, just measured the center of the front, drilled a hole, and screwed in the drawer pulls.
Optional Step 12: Attach to Bed Frame
As I put the bed back together, I threw some screws down from the bed slats into the top of the frame. This was to prevent the drawers from moving around when I opened them. I wasn’t actually sure this step was necessary, the drawers seemed pretty snug already, but I did it anyway for extra security.
I have a metal bedframe. Can I still do this project?
Probably. It depends on where the legs of your bed frame are, but you can probably work around them. You also might not be able to screw the drawers to the bed frame, but I felt that was just extra security anyway.
Is there a video for this project?
Yes! Go check it out on Youtube!
I love being organized. Do you have any other storage builds?
One of my favorite projects ever is my monitor riser/desk organizer. It only takes one board to build, and is super handy to have around.
The internet, on the other hand, loves this simple scrap wood wall organizer. It’s super easy to make, and the perfect thing for the office, mudroom, or kitchen.
This cost me about $30 per drawer ($20 for the plywood, $10 for the drawer slides) money-wise, and 4 hours per drawer time-wise. I really wanted this under bed dresser, but I recognize that may be quite the investment for someone who has other options.
Regardless, I love the way it turned out. It’s so easy to use, plus my clothes finally have a real storage location!
And while I planned to put a bed skirt around the bed to hide the drawers, I think they look nice enough that I don’t have to.
If you like it too, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later! And if you build your own, please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear how it turned out for you!
Friday 30th of August 2019
You did a fantastic job! I've been reading many, many posts on this subject and I think yours is the best. I have cats who like to under my bed and your drawers are fully enclosed so my cats couldn't use them as their personal nests as I know they would do. Besides that, your clothes will not get any household dust on them either. My main problem is that my bed frame is metal and has extra legs under the center of the bed so I need to build a bed frame first. I'm not sure how large I need to make the wooden legs to support the weight of the box springs and mattress. I appreciate your references to the videos. There may be hope for my project yet. Thanks.
Friday 30th of August 2019
Thank you so much! And I also have a cat who loves to nap in my clean clothes... Enclosed drawers just solve all the problems!
I had a couple thoughts on the project you described. I obviously don't know all the details, so they may be irrelevant or unnecessary, but I'd thought I'd share just in case they were helpful:
1) If all the legs are in actual center of the bed, you can build the drawers a little short of the center, so the legs can stay where they are. This is what I did, and it worked out really well.
2) I'm not sure if size of the wooden legs is as important as number. The legs that came with my bedframe were little 2x2 pieces, but because there were three of them that were well-spaced under the bed, they held the weight just fine.
3) If you're building the drawers the way I did, I don't think you'll actually need to worry about legs too much. Obviously have some, but for the most part the drawers can hold the weight of the boxspring and mattress as long as they're tall enough to reach the boxspring (and if they're not tall enough, add some scrapwood pieces to make them tall enough in strategic places. Like legs between the boxspring and drawers.)
Good luck! And if/when you do the project, I'd love to hear how it goes!