Monday, August 18, 2014

Inexpensive DIY Doll Bunk Bed

Doll bunk bed, with actual bunk bed in background
Years ago I built a bunk bed for my girls. It was a fun project, and four years later the bed is still standing, so I must have done something right. And then my middle daughter, Big A, decided that her dolls needed a place to sleep. She turned our wine rack into a doll bed, and also commandeered every laundry basket and couch cushion in the house. So enter the Baby Doll Bunk Bed project.

When I initially thought about making toys years ago (please see the Heirloom Toys article if you missed it), I imagined I would have piles of cherry, oak, and walnut toys that my kids played with. But as I thought about the doll bunk bed, I realized that the greatest thing for my daughters would be for them to have a doll bed that matched their bunk bed.

Here is what I did to make a bed that fits an 18 inch doll (like American Girl or My Generation). I started with one 2x2 and two 1x3 boards. I used the 2x2 for the posts, and the 1x3's for the horizontal pieces. I cut the 2x2 into four 18-inch pieces for the posts. I then cut four 18-inch lengths of the 1x3 for the side rails, plus eight lengths of the 1x3 for the end rails.
Don't try this with a store-bought bed

Using a pocket hole jig (if you've never used a pocket hole jig before, you must. They are easy to use and create very nice joints), I attached four end rails to two posts, and repeated for the other side. I then attached the two ends using the side rails. When everything was together, I filled the pocket holes with some wood filler, sanded it, and painted the whole thing white to match my girls' bed. Meanwhile, my wife took some scrap pieces of foam from the fabric store that we used for "mattresses" and covered them with some small pieces of fabric. We hot glued these to some pieces of plywood, and attached the plywood using small scraps of wood to brace the plywood.

This entire project cost about $15, with the bulk of the cost being the "mattresses." It took around two hours from start to finish. And the girls love the bunk bed. They often make sure to tuck their dolls into bed before they go to sleep.

At my house, my wife often tells our kids not to climb on the furniture, with one exception..she says, "Did daddy make it? Then it's safe to climb on." So this bed also doubles as a ladder, step stool and seat for my rambunctious crew. And we can store our wine, sit on our couch, and do laundry again. Win-win-WIN!

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