Fix-It-Fred: A kid’s bed

For quite a while Melissa and I have been discussing moving our large Barbie house into our youngest daughter’s bedroom. The Barbie house has been a family favorite for two generations and many children. My dad made if for my sister. Many of her kids used it. Then it landed at our house for our girls to enjoy. It has been in our middle daughter’s room for several years, but she is getting to the age that Barbies are not quite as interesting as they once were.

Our youngest daughter’s room does not really have the usable floor space for the Barbie house. We discussed the possibility of building a short loft for her bed because then there would be room underneath for the house. It was discussed and then pushed to the back burner. Other issues took priority, and the idea was shelved.

A few weeks ago, Melissa’s parents were talking about needing to buy some bunk beds for one of the bedrooms in their new house. We volunteered that we had an extra set of bunk beds. Sort of. We had a spare bed frame, two sets of bunk beds, and three kids. That makes two extra beds. Not a set of bunks, but it could be. Our middle daughter had a set of bunks in her room, but only used one bed. The other collected “treasures.” Our oldest and youngest daughters were each using one half of the other bunk set in their rooms.

We were able to rearrange the beds in the older two girls’ rooms to free up the half that matched the one in our youngest daughter’s room. Before we could take our youngest daughter’s bed, though, we needed to have something for her to sleep on. It was time to build that previously discussed lofted bed for our youngest daughter.

bed drawing

Being the over-planner that I am, I spent more time thinking through the size and construction of the bed frame than the actual building. I wanted to make sure the bed was strong enough to survive a rambunctious 6 year old. It also needed to be elevated enough for the Barbie house to fit underneath. And there needed to be some storage space as well.

Step one of the bed process was to create a drawing of what I wanted the final product to look like. After my drawing was complete, I made two small changes. These changes made the bed easier to assemble and easier to haul. With the updated plans in hand, it was time to create a materials list and make a trip to the hardware store. After returning home with a load of lumber, I got to work.


The building process was pretty quick. Having a materials list and a cut list made that portion a snap. Once everything was cut to size, it was time to assemble the bed. I assembled the bed frame the first time in the garage. The garage provided sufficient space to work and kept our daughter’s room clean during the construction process. There was another advantage to working in the garage: I was forced to build the bed to fit through doorways. This means that someday I will not have to cut it apart in order to get it in/out of her room.

I started the assembly process with the legs. I glued and screwed two 2×4’s together to make v-shaped leg. For each of the legs that would be on the front of the bed I used two different length 2×4’s. The extra length gave me something to attach the railing to later in the process.

bed legs

In order to complete all my gluing at one time, my next step was to work on the frame that would hold the bed. I screwed and glued a 2×2 onto a 1×8. The bottom edges of the boards were flush with each other in order to create a deep mattress pocket. I was able to glue these pieces together before assembling them since I had created a drawing and cut list before I started. I did double check the measurements before I glued anything together, though. I didn’t want to decide too late that I drew something wrong.

mattress box
Mattress box pieces

As I waited for the glue to dry, I next cut the remaining loose pieces for the bed. There were a couple climbing rungs, a few supports, and the railing parts. There were also several 1×3 pieces that would be laid out to support the mattress, so I cut those too. All these pieces were straightforward, but necessary, for a safe, sturdy bed frame.  When all the pieces were cut and the glue was dry, it was time to assemble the frame.

mattress box slat
Mattress box with support slats

I assembled the 1×8 mattress box to the legs to start the process. Putting the large pieces together first gave me a sturdy base with which to work. Once the main bedframe was secured and squared, the rest of the pieces dropped into place. Our daughter helped determine the correct rung step spacing. Otherwise, I was able to assemble the entire frame with minimal assistance.

After everything was put together to my satisfaction, it was time to move onto the cosmetic portion of the bed. I had no intention of dismantling the ends of the bed in the future. I filled all the holes on those pieces with wood putty. I also filled all the holes in the legs and mattress box since those joints were glued together anyway.

Parental experience has taught me who would win the battle between a sharp corner and my daughter’s forehead. Out came the sanding supplies, and away went the edges.

full bed unpainted
Assembled bed

With the bed assembled, holes filled, and corners round, it was time to paint. I applied 2 thick coats of a good primer as a base. A good base not only keeps the knots in the wood from bleeding through, it also makes the paint stick better. Anyone with small kids knows that keeping paint on anything in their room is a loosing battle. I needed all the help I could get. As for color, the bed remains while. At least for now.

Once the bed was painted, it was time to disassemble it and move it into our daughter’s room. As anticipated, it was easy to carry from the garage to the bedroom. No head scratching or saws required.

bed ends
Painted bed frame ends
bed raliling
Painted bed railing

Once all the pieces were carried up the stairs, it was time for the final assembly. And a test run. I did the assembly and our daughter got to try it out. I was ready for a nap, but she said I had to use my own bed. I know the bed is sturdy enough to hold me, but I will have to wait until another day to find out for sure. Maybe when the kids stay with their grandparents…

happy kid

doll house

A happy kid, and space for the Barbie house! What could be better? The only remaining things to do are to add the storage shelves underneath and choose the final paint color. Both are simple tasks that can be completed at any time.

Do you have any creative ideas for you kids’ room? Any clever, space saving ideas? Share them with us!