Children toddlerbed

Published on August 21st, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Toddler Captains bed

Materials: 1 x Gulliver bed. 6 x Vikare Guard Rails. 2 x Besta cabinets. 2 x Besta Cabinet doors. 2 x drawer kits. Drill. Screwdrivers. Fine toothed saw. Optional – Kreg Pocket hole drill jig.

Description: After no luck finding any company that makes a toddler sized platform bed, I decided to make one. There are lots of full-size storage/platform/captains beds, but no kiddie ones. My little girl is just about to turn two, and she’s a climber, jumper, and all round monkey. She also has no issues rolling out of bed. If you make this for you kid, make sure they are ok climbing in, out, and sleeping in it. The height from the floor to the top of the mattress pad is 21″.

1: Assemble the Gulliver bed frame. Leave the mattress support slats off for now. Note that you need to leave off the two metal tie rods that link the front and back of the bed, as well as the four screws that prevent the bed slats from sliding around. These would all interfere with the cabinets. I chose to just screw the bed slats down once complete. It serves the same purpose. (Prevent frame flex and slats from sliding).

2: Assemble the two Besta cabinets. Don’t put doors or any internal parts for shelves or drawers on them.

NOTE: These are are the Besta units of the following measurements:

Width: 23 5/8 “
Depth: 15 3/4 “
Height: 15 “

I went with the plain white (not gloss) as it matches the slightly matte finish of the bed. They should be $40 each.

3: Measure and mark up. Prop the bed frame so that the two cabinets are under each side of the front of the bed. Use the two doors to prop up the back temporarily. The unfinished wooden rail that the mattress slats sit on is what will rest on the cabinets. With the cabinets slid as far to each side as they can go, and butted up to the front frame, mark up the inside of the legs for where to cut.

4: Cut the legs. Note that the legs are not a straight-forward cut. The front is cut to the level of the front of the bed frame. Then there is a notch up that’s cut to the same height as the wooden mattress slat frame. NOTE: the wooden bar is not quite level with the side of the bed frame. The side is about 1/8 of an inch higher. Cut to the level of the wooden bar, not the bed side. Note in the picture the slight gap it leaves. The easiest way to do this is to cut the lower cut all the way across. Once you have the shortened frame end, you can cut the vertical cut in from the end and the higher horizontal cut from the back side to cut out the notch.

4A: cut the rear legs. I made the rear legs out of two sections of one of the doors cut to size. NOTE. The doors are a few eighths of an inches shorter than the cabinets, so you can NOT just cut a couple of strips for new back legs. Cut and measure two correct length legs from the door turned vertical. Or make legs from some scrap wood if you like, so long as they are the same height as the cabinets.

5: Screw main parts together. Slide the cabinets under the bed so they now sit in line with the end of the bed frames. (Refer to that close-up picture again). Screw the bare wooden frame to the cabinets. I chose to do this from underneath, and countersunk the holes. That way screw heads will not interfere with the bed slats.

5A: Screw the back legs on. With bare wooden rail resting on the legs, screw the legs into the frame from the front.

6: Finish cabinets. You can now put the drawers and shelves in the cabinets.

7: Rails. I cut two of the Vikare rails to length so that they left a gap the same width as the gap between the cabinets. With the hardware fitted, the cut end is placed flush against the bed frame, leaving the factory rounded ends in the middle. I re-drilled new holes for the hardware the same distance from the end of the cut section of the rail as the factory holes are from the uncut end.

8: Ladder. I cut the ladders sides at an angle from the Vikare rails, at the angle I liked aesthetically but also so the steps didn’t overlap. Your angle may depend on how far out you want the steps to protrude out. The steps themselves are just straight cuts sections of Vikare guards. To avoid having screws visible on the outside of the rails, I used the pocket hole cutter to drill two hidden holes in each side of each step, on the underside. They are then screwed in through those holes into the sides.

The ladder is secured to the cabinets using screws through the factory holes where the rail hardware would have been fitted. I used the second door to panel in the the back of the gap between the two cabinets. It’s just screwed into the backs of the cabinets with four screws.

9: Finish. Put the bed slats on the bed and secure the end slats in place to the wooden rail with a couple of screws. Put the mattress on.

10: Extra steps (Optional). I chose not to panel in the sides completely, behind where the cabinet sides stop. You could buy a couple of extra doors and cut sections to fill the gaps. I also still need to round off edges where I cut parts, so that they will match the chamfered factory edges. I intend to paint them white with matching semi-gloss finish to neaten the whole thing up.

~ Luke Nunn, Brooklyn, USA

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

20 Responses to Toddler Captains bed

  1. Julia says:

    What a wonderful idea! Would like to know the final height of the bed, as it has to go under a window. I would love to do this for my daughter.

  2. maggie says:

    Hi, I love your work!! does the bed come with two protect rails? or you buy an extra one?
    because the bed i saw only with one protect rail, but I can’t find that IKEA in usa (online) sell the rail by itself.


  3. Anonymous says:

    AMAZING!!! such a great idea to add storage under the bed! i think i may try this for my little monkey!

  4. Kayla Casa says:

    I Love this! do u think this would work with the gulliver crib that turns into a toddler bed cause my daughter is in the crib now and shes a little monkey as well! Truely inspiring!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I read you from Spain,wonderful hack,its really fantastic!never i’ll be able to do something like that.Ikea is too much for me,except lack table..hahaha
    Anyway..iam jealous of your brain!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi All,

    I hadn’t been back since submitting it to check to see if my hack was posted, so I’m pleasantly surprised to see all the positive comments!

    As pointed out by Meagan, the metal rail supports are stock items in the Vikare toddler rail kit. The only change I made was to the length of the wooden part. They are intended to be installed as a single item at the head end of the bed, but as my steps were in the middle, I installed two shorter ones to leave the gap in the middle. The gap is actually narrower than that left with a single standard length rail installed, so there’s less unguarded area in this configuration.

    Check the link below to see the stock item and a close-up of the metal parts.

    For fun, I added one more item to the bed since completion. I stuck a single IKEA Dioder LED color change light strip, hidden up underneath the overhang where the steps are mounted, which illuminates the recessed storage area behind the steps themselves.

    All the cables, except the controller, are hidden under the bed behind the paneled area. My daughter now has “anti-monster” night lights to keep away the boogie man from under the bed. She loves changing the colors, (hues of pink being her favorite) and in the position it’s in, it’s dim enough to be a night light you can leave on all night. Safe and energy efficient too, being cold-running LED’s.

    Happy Hacking!

    Luke Nunn

  7. Meagan says:

    I can understand being concerned about the “exposed metal pieces” if you thought that they were “hacked” however these are part of the toddler safety rail exactly as sold by ikea. The bolts are flush to the metal uprights and nothing sticks out or is scratchy. We have these safety rails and they are exactly that – SAFE. This is a wonderful hack, and something I’ll consider when my now 2 year old is ready to move up into a bigger bed.

  8. korry ortiz says:

    this is a GREAT hack! sometimes people on this site post horrible or unsafe looking hacks..such a nice idea and it looks great and safe! love it..looks cute and i bet your little girl loves it!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Nice! You have a lucky little girl, who has a creative dad who will no doubt be able to encourage her in all kinds of projects and creativity as she grows.

  10. emma says:

    I actually slapped my head when I read the second comment. This is such a nice sensible childs hack. It’s a long way from hanging a bed from the ceiling. You have gone out of your way to explain the safety and structural steps taken to make this strong and safe. And someone finds fault with exposed metal supports. My local playground has a lot of exposed metal and so far none of my kids have left with injuries.

    • Zulaya says:

      Emma, Clearly you have not read and understood the Ikeahackers law that says for every “children’s hack” there must be numerous vocal safety complaints. It’s there. It must be, because every single child’s hack I’ve ever looked at save one has SOMETHING that is, apparently, going to lead to the death and downfall of every child who even looks at it:)

      Recently, though, a majority of comments seem to be a bit less death, mayhem, and destruction oriented. I also like this hack, and think the safety patrol might have been overly zealous.

    • Anonymous says:

      Goodness I never thought “ouch” would generate such disdain. The point of my comment was merely to suggest covering exposed metal. It provides both for safety and design aesthetic and depending on the solution used can cost very little.

    • Kayla Casa says:

      Exposed metal solution… Lowe’s and Home depot has this liquid rubber you can probably go on the web and find different colors, you simply tip the “object” in the stuff let it harden up and its now coated and safer… simple easy cheap solution if your truly concerned… Its commonly used on old hammers or pliers to re-coat the handles for more of a comfortable grip

  11. What a great idea! Nice hack!

  12. This bed has a ton of storage space. It seems like it would the perfect bed for a kid.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Love it
    Very creative, love the detail explanation.

  14. Karalynn says:

    Are you serious? Walls, floors, corners, toys, dogs, parent’s heads, and lots of other things can all hurt when you run into them! Just put her in a padded room, then, I guess.

    I think this hack is amazing. I am trying to hack a captains bed for my 12 year old because she has no dresser and has no storage, but all of the double sized ones are way too expensive and/or have drawers on both sides, which is a waste because the bed has to go against a wall. I’m glad that you found the pieces to make such an ideal bed for your daughter. I’ll use this as encouragement for my own hack.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is a lovely hack though I do worry about the exposed metal supports. You mentioned preparing to paint them to match the finish but those bolts just scream “ouch” when I think about a toddler running into them.

  16. Nik Louch says:

    Not JUST for toddlers. I’m 34 and I want one of these. Not sure my wife would agree to it but she can have her boring double bed…

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