The Game Fortress was based on the bunk bed idea, but offers 2 distinct levels - one for doing homework & sleeping and one for reading, playing video games, and hanging out.
It has plenty of storage space underneath and a set of large shelves hidden behind the front corner. The study area features a full size desktop for homework and other projects. The bed is flanked by a long shelf on which to store action figures, a lamp and a clock. The second story features wrap-around shelving for toys as well as 3 shelves for books. A TV and our favorite game consoles makes a fun gaming area as well.
Using 4 x 8 sheets of plywood as the guiding size-factor, I planned a second story that extends out beyond the first, giving the 2nd story gaming area some additional floor space.
Over the course of 4 weeks in the Fall of 2012, this is the Christmas present I designed and built for my son... and ME! :)
Construction timeline photos: start to finish - 4 weeks - 2012
I began by making the framework for the 2 floors. I made 2 identical frames placing a longer end-piece on the upper floor's frame. This allowed me to connect a long 2x4 that would become the triangular area that extends two feet out beyond the first story. Once completed, I attached the first floor frame to the upright posts then attached the 2nd story frame. At this point, the whole structure was scary-flimsy! The cross supports, floors and walls are what gives it strength.
It began to take shape once the 2nd story wall was in place. I chose to make it from 2 pieces as the vertical one runs floor-to-ceiling which gives the whole front corner more strength and acts as a mount point for storage shelves on the first floor.
You can see an upper shelf (looks like a board) running along the top of the open section. There is a similar one inside the front wall too. We put action figures on these shelves to add some flair to the interior. Actually, these shelves were necessary as mount points for the 2nd story walls.
I wanted to put a window in the long 2nd story wall so it wouldn't seem claustrophobic from inside. I couldn't decide on a shape. I knew it had to be something non-standard, so I went with a theme that attempts to give the whole structure an elongated look - sloping windows and doorways.
A coat of paint made quite a difference after seeing raw wood for a few weeks. You can see the mattress inside the first floor. I had to remember to put it inside before the 1st floor wall went up. Similarly, I had to carpet the second floor before the upper side wall was put in place. I wanted to wrap the carpet around the floor next to the ladder. This adds some padding to the entryway to avoid any sharp edges.
The 1st floor storage shelves can also be seen. They are accessible from the left side by the doorway into the bed. I chose to close off the shelves where the front corners meet so the toys on the shelves are not visible when you come into the room.
I was completely stoked once the carpet was in and the final 2nd story wall in place! I loved going inside the 2nd story and looking out the window and doorway. I was nearly certain my son was going to love his Game Fortress as much as I did! :)
The built-in desk can be seen beneath the 2nd story doorway. The bed is on the back-side of the desk which allowed for another cross-support. Below the desk is the flooring that extends back on which the mattress lays. I made a cut-out in the flooring so he could sit at the desk without bashing shins on the floor.
The vertical PVC pipe covers the front corner where the joints didn't fit together as well as I'd hoped. I ran white Christmas lights down the inside of the pipe which makes the front corner glow at night. The same string of lights also runs behind the bottom of the second floor for indirect lighting and a along the inside o f the second story for a bit of lighting. I didn't want any of the bulbs visible from outside. Almost worked :)
1st story doorway to the bed and built-in storage shelves. I ran white Christmas lights throughout the structure offering a reflective glow and some needed light in the storage areas.
Another shot of the 1st story doorway to the bed showing the built-in shelf for a clock, action figures and anything else that'll fit. A can-lamp by the bed creates indirect lighting that reflects off the ceiling for a nice glow without the glare. A reading lamp aims downward when a good chapter has to be finished before dozing off.
Aside from a 2nd coat of paint, the final touch was to build a ladder and secure it to the upper doorway. I tried to carry over the white/gray pattern to the steps of the ladder. Once the second coat of white paint dried, I strained my creativity to figure out how to apply contrasting gray highlights to break up the stark whiteness of the 8' walls.
Night shot - illuminated only by the Christmas lights that run under the beams and inside the PVC pipe on the front corner. These lights are on a motion-switch that turns them on automatically when entering the room.
Interior of the 2nd story game room from the ladder leading to the doorway. I added a small table for snacks and a beanbag chair to lounge while gaming or reading. A shelf on the left stores a bunch of board games and keeps people from leaning against the wall. There are 3 bookshelves on the right - the lower shelf is flush with the floor. This let me move all my son's books and free up a lot of shelf space in the room. There's also some room for a few video games and extra controllers.
Interior of the 2nd story game room from the opposite side showing the consoles and TV. We started out with a NeoGeo X and a Family Edition Wii, but have added a GameCube and PS3. My son certainly doesn't need his own 32" flat-screen TV, but the price difference between it and the next size down was $15, so he has a nice big TV for his Game Fortress :)
It was a ton of fun to design and build over the course of 4 weeks. My son loves it and it gives him (and both of us) a cool place to hang out and play our favorite games!
The Game Fortress - One Year Later
I'd love to say I built a colossal addition or made some other insane update over the past year, but I'm pretty happy its still standing. A full year's worth of gaming, reading and devouring epic snacks has not taken a toll on the Game Fortress. I'm stoked that it is still free-standing and solid as a rock. Even when we get into heated co-op games, we haven't shaken it loose. Here's to another year of reading, gaming and sleeping late!
Side view showing the 2 foot overhang that provides a few shelves worth of storage.
This is the side you see when entering the room. The motion sensor for the lights is mounted at the base of the 2nd floor, above the desk.
3/4 view with the Christmas tree.
Holiday gaming in the Game Fortress
I love the night view with the Christmas lights under the outer edges and our Christmas tree.
Another night shot with the silhouette of the Christmas Tree to the side.
A spooky Halloween night in 2014! This year we put up our orange Halloween lights and strung them around the Game Fortress and the rest of the room. This created a hauntingly glow in which to play video games at night.