DIY Adventurous Cabin Bed
This was truly a fun build - and probably one of the ones I am most proud of! This past Spring, I participated in the Better Homes and Gardens One Room Challenge. The goal was to transform my little girl's nursery into a big girl room and, since she had transitioned to a toddler bed SO well, I let her lead the design process on this adventure.
The theme she chose was... adventure!
The bed she chose reflected that as well - it of course couldn't have been a plain, easy or inexpensive bed - she wanted the cabin bed from Restoration Hardware. I, for one, can't afford to purchase that one for close to $3,000.00+ I believe. So, I explored building it myself. It took me quite a while (five weeks), but it very well could have been because I was also renovating her entire room.
There is her old toddler bed - a quick conversion from the crib. She hardly gave us any problems transitioning from the crib to this and we were so proud of her!
I used a plan from Ana White's site to guide me, and it had so much of the meat of this project, but I did discover some things I would have changed for my own sanity!
To get you started, you will need the following tools:
- Miter Saw
- Kreg Jig Pocket Hole System
- Power Drill
- Orbital Sander
- Jig Saw
- Tape Measure
- Speed Square
- Drill Bit Set
While her post starts with the cut list, which I find usually really helpful for projects, I found it easier for me to keep track of everything by cutting as I went.
This image from Ana White's post about the build was really helpful as I was building to get perspective on where the panels would need to go relative to the other parts of the bed.
Step 1: Buy Your Materials (Of Course)
I make mistakes while I build these things - I am not an expert, but I'm sure even experts make mistakes sometimes. For this reason, I would have purchased extra lumber when I was doing my first big purchase. That is why my material's list contains additional 2 x 4s, 1 x 2s and plywood.
Additionally, while you want to always choose the straightest boards possible for these projects, it proved especially important for the 2 x 2s. They provide the base for the roof slats and if they are warped at all, you will struggle getting them installed on top of the cabin.
Step 2: Cut Your Wood for the Side Panels
- (2) 2x4 @ 11 3/4" (center truss)
- (4) 2x4 @ 63 7/16" - one end cut at 30 degrees off square bevel, SHORT point measurement.
- (6) 2x4 @ 35"
- (2) 2x4 @ 19 5/16" - both ends cut at 30 degrees off square bevel, long point to short point measurement.
- (4) 2x4 @ 10" (these are the angled pieces that sit next to the center truss, so it might be easier to scribe their cuts when you have the top piece built).
- (2) 3/4" plywood @ 12" x 35"
Step 3: Notch Out Center Truss
The truss will need to be notched out on the top to provide support for the eventual center bridge that spans the length of the cabin bed. The notch should be 3 1/2" tall and 1 1/2" deep. Cut this out with your jigsaw.
Step 4: Build Side Panels
Drill your pocket holes in the plywood and 35" 2x4s. Attach the plywood panel to the 35" long 2x4s with 3/4" pocket holes and 1 1/4" pocket hole screws on the back side, with everything flush to the back. Make sure to set your Kreg Jig up to reflect the width of materials you are working with.
From there, attach the 63 7/16" legs, leaving 10" of space under the bottom 2x4 with the longest part of the wood facing inward. For this, the 2x4s should be flush on the outside.
Attach the 35" 2x4 to the notched center truss using self tapping wood screws, matching up the centers.
The trickiest part for the side panels is the next section - lay out the top pieces and ensure that the angles on the legs AND the rafters of the future roof are flush with each other - it should be a pretty seamless transition from the legs to the rafters. At the top, where the rafter pieces reach the center truss, you need to leave 3/8" of a gap.
Place all of your pieces where they need to go and apply wood glue and clamps to ensure that when you go to secure them in place they don't move.
When they are secure, use 2 3/4" screws to attach everything together.
You will need two of these sections that are exactly the same.
Step 5: Add in Additional Rafters
To simplify your life, I would scribe your planned cuts for these angled pieces. Once you have them cut to fit, add them on either side of the center truss - screw from the outside with your 2 3/4" screws.
Step 6: Start the Back Panel Build
Cut your lumber for the back panel.
- (2) 2x4 @ 63 7/16" - one end cut at 30 degrees off square bevel, long point measurement - I used a speed square to help mark the angles for this one.
- (3) 2x4 @ 71 1/2"
- 1 3/4" plywood @ 12" x 71 1/2"
Everything on this step will be flush to the inside.
Attach your plywood panel to the 71 1/2" 2x4s first (2 of them one on top and one on bottom). I used the Kreg Jig pocket hole system for this. You will use 3/4" pocket holes for the plywood and 1 1/2" holes for the 2x4s so that you can attach this piece to the legs.
When placing the plywood panel, be sure to leave 10" of space below the panel and attach to the legs using pocket screws. Attach the top 2x4 to the legs.
Now you have your two side panels and one long back panel ready to go. Moving onto the exciting part (at least for me) - the front panel with the cute windows and door!
Step 7: Start on the Front Panel
But first - start your cuts:
- (2) 2x4s @ 63 7/16" - one end cut at 30 degrees off square bevel, long point measurement - again, the speed square is helpful.
- (2) 2x4s @ 71 1/2"
- (2) 2x4s @ 45 9/16"
- (2) 3/4" plywood @ 23" x 45 9/16"
For this section, I started with the plywood.
Draw your window on the sheet of plywood -
- 15 1/2" up from the bottom
- 4 1/2" from either side
- 18 3/4" long
- 14" wide
Using a large drill bit, I bored a hole into the center of the window.
With a jigsaw, I started with the hole and worked my way around, carefully cutting out the window.
Once I had both sections of plywood prepared with the windows cut out, I moved on to attaching them to the top and bottom 71 1/2" 2x4s, using the pocket hole system. This will all be flush to the inside. Once again, 3/4" pocket holes on the plywood and also 1 1/2" pocket holes in the 2x4s so that you can attach them to the legs.
Attach your 45 9/16" 2x4s to the plywood using pocket hole screws as well.
At this point, you have the entire front section ready to attach to the legs. Leaving a space of 10" below the panel, attach to the legs with the shortest end of your angled 2x4 facing inward (it will be the inside of the cabin bed). I used the pocket hole system combined with wood glue for pretty much all of my joints.
Step 8: Trim Your Front Panel
- (2) 1x3 @ 18"
- (4) 1x2 @ 18 3/4"
- (2) 1x2 @ 18"
- (2) 1x2 @ 17"
Trim your windows using 1 1/4" finish nails. The 17" 1x2 sits on the bottom, the 18" 1x2 piece serves as both the window "sill". The 18 3/4" 1x2 serves as the side trim pieces and the 18" 1x3 serves as the top accent.
This is also the time when I added the board and batten look to my cabin bed (optional). Using additional 1x2s, cut to fit and add to the plywood with 1 1/4" finish nails and wood glue.
Step 9: Finish Out the Panels
Fill all of your pocket holes, sand everything, paint in whichever color scheme you would like. I used a white furniture paint and applied furniture wax to give it a bit of protection.
I would HIGHLY recommend assembling the cabin bed prior to building the roof and bed rails. That way, you can take precise measurements of the space you will need.
To assemble, you screw from the INSIDE each of the four panels with 2 3/4" screws. The front panel sits in front of each of the side panels, as does the back panel.
Step 10: Cut and Set Ridge
Measure the distance between each of the notched out trusses and cut your 2x4 to length. Finish the ridge board out as you have the rest of the cabin bed frame. Set the ridge inside of the trusses and screw down with 2 3/4" screws.
Step 11: Build the Bed Slat System
- (2) 2x2s @ 71 1/2" - find the straightest ones you can!
- (10) 2x4s @ 38"
Using 2 3/4" screws, attach the 2x2s to the side panels, flush to the bottom of the panels. Add slats on top and screw into place.
It's starting to come together!! I was pretty excited at this point.
Step 12: Build Your Roof
This is one area where I messed up... I should have waited to have the bed assembled and THEN measured and cut based off of the actual measurements. However, I was trying to surprise my daughter and got way ahead of myself. I wanted it to be 100% finished when she came back home from daycare.
The result was me, by myself, lugging this roof section on and off with a jigsaw in her room trying to make it fit. It was exhausting. Don't recommend!
What I do recommend, though, is to measure the space inside of your cabin bed legs so you know how long to cut your 2x2s.
- (4) 2x2s @ 71 1/2" (this is the one you measure before you cut - might be a different length!)
- (26) 1x6s @ 23 3/4"
Lay out your 1x6 boards with the 2x2s on top - you will have a 4 1/2" overhang on each end, with 2 1/2" of overhang on the front and 1/2" overhang on the section that will face the ridge.
I worked one by one - placing and checking for square and spacing correctness with each 1x6. I even had a neat little wood piece I used to help keep me even.
Attach each piece with screws, leaving 3/4" gaps between the slats. I finished the roof pieces in Weathered Oak and a light coat of polyurethane to bring in some natural wood.
When you install the roof, the longer overhang will face the outside of the cabin bed - the shorter will be up against the ridge. Screw the 2x2 into the ridge.
I added a small, screw in hanger to hang a little LED battery powered lantern for her to use while climbing in at night. I also built a small set of steps so that she could get in and out easily. The steps were fairly straight forward - measure the length you need, cut and assemble with screws.
Vacuum up the dust, place your bedding and celebrate! I knew how proud I was after this build! It is the coziest, coolest bed and I know she will love it until the day she moves into her own place. If I were her, though, I would take it with me!
This was the Spring One Room Challenge - I can't wait to see what I will build for the Fall ORC!
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Pascale Mohr on Feb 02, 2021
Very cute and I love your pup!
MARY ANN on Sep 30, 2021
YOU DID A FANTASTIC JOB THERE, LADY, BUT I SUSPECT YOU FOLLOWED THOSE DIRECTIONS TO A "T", SO AS NOT TO GET LOST IN THE MEASUREMENTS. YOUR DAUGHTER IS A LUCKY LITTLE ONE TO HAVE A MOM SO WILLING TO MAKE YOUR YOUNG-IN SO HAPPY AS SUCH A YOUNG AGE. GOD BLESS YOU MOM, AND MAY SHE LOVE THIS BED WITH ALL HER HEART. WELL DONE!
Michelle | breakingdownthebox on Sep 30, 2021
Thank you! She loved it! When we moved, unfortunately it didn't fit into her new room so we sold it to a family whose daughter was scared of her room and needed a confined space to feel comfortable. It was awesome having this go to someone who needed it! She felt comfortable in it and was able to sleep in her room finally!
Is it hard to change the sheets and make the bed? It's absolutely amazing. I would love that bed and I'm almost 60!
BTW your dog is gorgeous too!
Too darn cute ❤️...my only question...how hard is it to make the bed...sheets and all..
This is so cute. Is it hard to change the sheets?