Floor Bed

by Ashley Weeks Cart

The moment has come! Sunny’s floor bed is finished! Woo hoo! She’s had a successful few nights on her new “Big Girl” bed, only rolling out three times. Thanks to the bed’s convenient location on the floor, the fallout (ha!) has been minimal. And man, Operation: Rainbow Explosion was most certainly achieved with this design. And for less than $100. Boom!

I’m so pleased to share the process and results with all of you. James deserves 99% of the credit for its creation, so I’ll let him talk you through the steps. Enjoy – although we don’t think it’s possible for anyone to enjoy this bed more than Sunny. She is positively beaming with pride and keeps proclaiming, “Daddy make a’Sunny bed! Sunny like it!”

Now we just need to tackle the rest of the room redesign. Oof!


Wood – We got all of ours for free from friends who had some lying around their barn (thanks Joe and Geraldine!), but you could buy it all (plus extra if you make a mistake) for less than $40 at a lumber yard. Saw – I used a miter saw for cutting, but you can use any saw that will cut right angles. After you’ve cut the pieces, double check the right angles.


Hardware, $15 – Bed Rail Fasteners. There are hundreds of different versions; you don’t have to use this version, or any at all, but they allow for easier dismantle when it comes time to move the bed either into storage or through a door into a new room.


Bed slats, more free wood (found in our attic). These are 3/4 inch thick, which is fine for a kiddo bed, but you may want to step up to 1 inch thick if the bed is for somebody over 150 pounds.


Ikea canopy, $19; Fabric & batting, $30

To build the bed, you’ll also need: a drill, a screwdriver, a pencil, a ruler or tape measure, a staple gun, and plenty of sandpaper….

You don’t need these, but they’ll make it a lot easier: an electric sander (orbital or belt), a table saw, a drill press, wood clamps, an electric or easy squeeze staple gun.


1. Measure the mattress you’re planning on using. Ours, from Ikea for around $75, was 39in x 60in x 4in.

2. Sketch out a plan for the bed. Draw it from above, from the side and from the foot (or head). It may seem silly, but you’ll be able to work through a bunch of the design by doing this step, and it’ll save you several headaches down the line. Draw it to scale if you want, or just make your best guesstimate. Where will the feet be? Will I use posts for the feet, or will the sides and foot and head of the bed rest on the floor? How high will it be? Do I want any space underneath the mattress for airflow? There are many plans available online for building a bed. If drawing plans isn’t your strong suit, search around for a bed that’s close to what you want and then change them as desired.

3. Cut the wood based on your measurements. I made the mattress cavity 1.5 inches wider and 1 inch longer than the mattress. This allows room for bedding. I also made it 2 inches shallower so that the mattress rests above the side rails.

4. Since we went with a design that uses slats underneath, I built the sides first. I used a piece of 2×4 ripped down the center (most big hardware stores will rip lumber for free) and secured it to the sides with screws spaced every 10 inches. I left room for the head and foot of the bed as shown below.

5. Put all the pieces of wood together without securing them. Make sure that everything will fit together before you go screwing it in place. It’s like playing with blocks. Really big blocks!

4. Sand it all down. Don’t oversand where wood will connect to other wood. Also, be sure to sand in areas that are most likely to elicit splinters. The last thing you want is your child getting a splinter from pressure treated (or barn aged) wood because you were lazy through this step. Note: The scraggly wood in the first picture is the same piece of wood shown directly above here. A good belt or orbital sander can do wonders (or you could build some pretty serious biceps without using power sanders).

5. Install the hardware. You can measure to get the right distance from the edges and the top and bottom. Or you can put the pieces together and then trace where you’ll need to put the screws. Drill guide holes for the screws. The second to last thing you want is for your pretty sanded wood to crack because you tried to put too big a screw in it.

6. Put the bed together and give it a test drive. Screw it all together, but don’t glue anything (not that I used any glue). You’re going to take it all apart in a minute. Now’s the time to make those small corrections if it doesn’t quite fit right. Once it’s covered in batting and cloth, making adjustments will be much much harder.

Editor’s Note: Feel free to dress like a hobo. (See above)

7. Cover the bed in batting, or some other soft layer. If you really want a protective, soft layer, you might want to opt for a foam, but batting makes a difference and is easier to manipulate than foam. Measure and cut the batting so that it will cover all the sides that will be seen. Remember, the mattress is going to hide a side of your wood, so that’s the side that you’ll use to staple everything together.

8. Staple the batting to the wood, leaving room on the side that will touch the mattress.

9. Measure and cut the fabric. Give yourself PLENTY of extra fabric in case you make a mistake. Pull it taught, and staple it over the batting. This is much like wrapping an oddly shaped present (don’t I wish I could just put it in a decorative bag), so use that training when you’re working on corners. When you get to difficult corners, try to keep the “ugly” ones on the sides that won’t be easily seen. The head board corners on this sucker are something awful…but you’d never know without pulling it away from the wall and looking for them.

10. Once completely covered in fabric, put all the pieces together. Again.

11. Put furniture feet (those things on the bottom of chair legs) on the bottom if you’d like to make it a bit easier to move, and spray the fabric with some Scotch Guard, or other fabric protector.

12. Allow your wife to decorate said bed with all the necessary bedding, accents, etc. Then revel in your new bed….maybe remove your hobo clothes before reveling.


Photos: Courtesy of Ashley Weeks Cart