DIYdiy projects

diy project: upholstered toddler beds

by Grace Bonney

this clever diy project comes from gabrielle blair of design mom. gabrielle came up with a fantastic diy project that creates two beautifully upholstered toddler beds for only $75. for those of you with small children this would be a great way to update your little ones’ rooms without breaking the bank.

gabrielle has written out detailed instructions below so i hope you’ll enjoy them! if you’re living sans little ones, this would be a fun project to adapt to larger beds- especially if you’re a fan of low-lying beds and don’t want to deal with heavy bed frames. thanks, gabrielle!

CLICK HERE for the full project after the jump!

How To Build Two Toddler Beds for $75

by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom

I’m so excited to tell you about this project. When we moved in, we decided to put two toddler-size beds in Oscar’s and Betty’s small bedroom, but every bed option that I loved was really expensive. Especially when you multiplied by two. So I decided to build my own.

Two super-simple, upholstered platform-ish beds. They are adorable. Especially side-by-side. They are low to the floor, so if Betty rolls off in her sleep, she won’t get hurt (this is Betty’s first bed since leaving her crib). They use crib-size mattresses, so they don’t have a big footprint. And they were a total bargain to build — $75 total for both. So I suppose that means you could build just one for about $37.

Here are the directions, in case you want to make your own. The instructions are for two beds, but if you only need one, just half everything. Or find a buddy who also wants to build a bed and work together.


Part one: Build the base.

Materials to Build Two Beds (about $25):
-4 pieces plywood, 3/8″ thick. 10″ x 51″
-4 pieces plywood, 3/8″ thick. 10″ x 25″
(I had these pieces cut from one 4’x8′ piece of 3/8″ plywood that cost $8.)
-4 pieces of 2″ x 2″ wood. 48″ long
(I bought one 2 x 2 board that was 8′ long and had it cut in half. They are about $3 each.)
-2 pieces plywood, 1/4″ thick. 24″ x 48″
(These are typically available in this exact size for about $3 at Home Depot.)
-Screws #6, 1 1/4 inch.
(A box of 100 sells for about $5.)

-Make a rectangular box with the 10″ pieces of wood. Two short pieces and two long pieces. Attach with 3 screws on each side. This is easier if you pre-drill.
-On the long sides, make a mark at 2.5 inches along the outside and at 2 inches along the inside.
-Align one piece of the 2 x 2 inch wood so that the top hits just under the inside marks. Use clamps to brace or have a helper hold in place.
-From the outside of the box drill in along the 2.5 mark at 5 places along the rail. Repeat on other side of box.

-Lay 24 x 48 plywood on rails. Attach with 2 screws on each side.
And that’s it. The mattress will rest inside the two inch lip. Don’t worry if the box is a bit rough — if the screws aren’t perfectly aligned, etc. The box will be completely covered by fabric.

Before you start cutting wood, please read these notes on mattress size:
I didn’t include the price of the mattress in the project because most people in need of a toddler bed will already have a crib size mattress from their crib. If you do plan to use a standard crib mattress, you’ll need to make adjustments to the size of the base. Standard crib mattresses are 52″ x 26″, which will be a bit too big for this base. But be sure to measure the mattress you own. They vary.



Part two: The Upholstery.

Materials to Upholster (about $50):
-One full-size or queen-size package of hi-loft cotton batting
(This was $25 at JoAnns. Watch for sales or coupons and I’m sure you could get it cheaper.)
-About 4.5 yards of fabric. You could use much less if you don’t mind seaming it together. For each bed, you’ll need a strip of fabric 16 inches wide by 4.5 yards long.
(Fabric prices vary so much, that it’s hard to put this in a budget. In the $75 I mentioned in the title of this post, I’m allotting $25 for fabric. You could certainly spend more. And if you’re a bargain hunter, you could for sure spend less.)
-staple gun and staples

-Roll out your cotton batting and fold over so you have a double thickness.
-Cut into 3 double-thick strips about 15 inches wide each. For each bed, you’ll use about 1 1/2 lengths of this double thick, 15 inch wide batting.
-Place the folded edge of the batting over the top edge of the bed frame. Attach it to the bed frame with a staple gun.


-Trim the corners, so that you can attach them more securely.
-Keep wrapping the cotton around until your length runs out. Then add the next length.
-Turn the bed over and pull the batting tightly around the bottom edge. Staple away.

-Once the batting is secure, it’s time to add the fabric.
-Measure and cut the fabric so that you have a 16 inch wide piece that is approximately 4.5 yards long. You could also piece 16 inch lengths together to make one long strip.
-Starting on the bottom of the bed, staple the fabric over the cotton batting.
-At the corners, just fold and staple tightly.
-Once you’ve gone around the bottom, turn the bed over. Fold the fabric underneath itself so the edges don’t fray, and staple the fabric over the cotton on the top edge as well.
-Where the fabric joins, fold the edge underneath itself and staple tightly. I put my seam at the head of the bed — that way it’s hidden against the wall.


And that’s it. You’re finished! It’s an easy project to do in an afternoon. And you can’t beat that price for two darling toddler beds.

Suggested For You


    i’ll be keeping these instructions! my daughter is 18 mos now. so i’ve got some time find the perfect fabric!

    Thank You So Much

  • These beds rock! Love it Gabrielle, way to go DesignMom! I’ve been looking for a 2 bed solution that won’t break the bank. It looks like this is getting added to the hubby’s to-do list ;)

  • My 10yo daughter recently created a reading spot in her bedroom using a crib mattress I had stashed in the garage. This idea will be a great way to give it some polish!

  • I agree, this is the perfect for making larger beds as well. My husband and I have the thickest mattress ever and when combined with standard bed frames we practically have to climb in and out of bed. I think we’ll be making this.

  • I love this idea but I have a question. What kind of sheet do you use to cover the mattress? I don’t have any little ones but was wondering if toddler sheets are easy to come by?

  • this is a wonderful project! i’ve been looking for a toddler bed and they’re either too expensive or cheap/flimsy. love the custom look!

  • I am so going to do this when the time comes for my daughter to graduate from her crib. Her room is tiny and this will work perfectly. I LOVE IT!

  • this is wonderful. i would also like to know where you found those fabulous rainbow dot pillows. would you mind sharing? thanks!

  • Wonder if I can convert for a full bed? Anyone have suggestions for enlarging this awesome idea.

  • this is great – thank you so much for sharing!

    (i bet you could use slats across to support the mattress for more air circulation…)

  • Can’t wait to do this for my kids! 2 and 4 months, we can do both @ the same time for a great price! Sweet~

    PS @amanda,For sheets I believe you would use a crib sheet, if you are using a crib mattress.

  • I love this! I have an 8 month old so this will come in handy when it’s time to transition from crib to bed!!!

  • Ohh I love this idea… I have been wanting to transfer our kids to their own room for a while and I think this will make such a cool bed for my son… LOVE it.. great idea…thanks for sharing and maybe I will share what it looks like when I am done with their room transformation

  • This is a great idea, I would love to do it for a slightly older kid though. I’m a bit worried that my three year old would fall out of bed – actually I know he’d fall out of bed, he manages to fall out of ours which is queen size!

  • I look forward to adapting this to my larger bed! This is great! I think I can build a surround this way and use our current box spring.

  • So glad you like the project, everybody! Thanks for the positive feedback.

    For those seeking the source on the polkadot pillow, I found it in the Ross Home Department. It came unlabeled so I don’t know who makes it. The material is somewhere between terry cloth and velour — super soft.

  • I love, love this idea! My sofa is falling apart beyond repair and I think doing this with a twin size mattress to make a great, lounge-y couch.

  • I really love this idea! I’ve been contemplating what to do re: beds for my 2 yo twin girls, and this will be perfect. Now it’s just finding time to actually build them, not to mention choosing fabric!

  • This is awesome! I have twin girls that are getting ready to move to big girl beds and everytime I start looking for cute toddler bed options I get totally depressed – $$$! But this, this is genius. Thank you!

  • This is just so WONDERFUL!! It’s too bad I’m not having any more kids and my youngest is out of her toddler bed already. But I would do this in a heartbeat!!

  • Do you think it would be safe to do this for a twin-size mattress? I would love to make one for my 3-year-old daughter!

  • I cant wait to make this for my daughter when the time comes! Or at least pass the instructions on to her Papa! He would love to make this for her! Thanks for another great post!

  • This is the cutest bed ever!

    I was wondering where you got the green fabric from? I have been looking for something just like this color!

  • what a fabulous DIY. thanks for sharing!! definately will put this to use for my 2 kids once we buy our new house!

  • Thank you for this AWESOME idea!!! I’ve been looking for two toddler beds for my boys (twins) that are getting ready for their “big boy” beds. This is the perfect solution for my family! I’m off to find some fabric… happy, happy, joy, joy!

  • I’m curious to see how these hold up to jumping. Sometimes my youngsters just can’t help themselves!

  • wonderful project Gabrielle. I will definitely be trying this! I’m wondering about your mattress on top. Is it a piece of foam? It doesn’t look like a typical mattress. Did you put your crib mattress on top of the bed frame?
    thanks :)

  • I’ve been looking for a low-profile, inexpensive daybed option for my apartment, and this looks like just the thing. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • She could totally sell these online (Or if she won’t, I will!) All the other toddler beds are either cartoony, flimsy plastic or just not pleasing to the eye. Love the idea!

  • This will be a perfect crib to bed transition! I think I will add 2-3 cross braces under the top. My little monkey likes to bounce. A lot.

  • I think this would be great to make twin sized bed also! I can’t stand the beds my daughters have. This is such a great idea! thank you for sharing it

  • I don’t have kids yet, but this would be awesome! I also love that it has a hidden functionality to it-kids (toddlers especially) are big fans of bumping their heads…this way, they’re protected and everything is soft.

    LOVE it.

  • this looks beautiful…where did you get the pillow? the Spot one and the orange one…i want them for my bedroom. Or did you make this yourself?

    really great look!

  • this is absolutely brilliant… and i bet u could use underneath for storage of blankets and such… where did u find that nice cushy toddler bed mattress all i can find is the round ones covered in plastic?

  • I love this little bed. I am trying to think of ideas for the summer when i make my girls a play house. this seating is perfect for the craft /playroom : ) thanks keep it comin

  • Thank you Thank you!

    Not only do I have two toddlers who will be needing beds soon, I have had a dilemma for two weeks now.

    See.. I want a reading nook for my daughters, however all the arm chairs our there are not comfortable enough, or too big for their room.

    I have been so sad and looking for a way to make a bench style L-shaped bench for their room. Cute fabrics, etc…

    Guess what? These did it. I am going to cut them in half on the plans, and put them in the corner now!

    I can’t wait!!

    Thanks again!!!

  • This is such a great idea and it seems really easy to do! Thank you for sharing this, I want to try making a bed for my baby cousin!

  • i used to always fall out of bed as a toddler (and older, i must admit) so my dad had to attach some kind of paddle to the side so i wouldn’t fall anymore. is this possible here?

  • I loved this idea…………until I made them myself following exact instructions and measurements to a ‘T’. I even copied and printed out the building materials list and took it with me to Home Depot. Our beds look beautiful, however, they are about 2 inches too short for a crib sized mattress. I was very saddened when we finished (took all of a Saturday) and went to put in our crib mattresses in and they don’t fit!! (note: we have 2 different brands of crib mattresses and neither one fit) Also, I would recommend a thicker size of plywood. Using the recommended 3/8″ and the recommended #6 1 1/4″ screws, the wood has a tendency to split as the screws are too large. If I were to do it over using the knowledge I gained from this experience I think I would be much happier with the final outcome. For now, we will have to go out and buy some foam to cut and fit into the beds or just squish the mattresses in, leaving a not so pretty and lumpy bed. Good luck to those who try it!

  • UPDATE: I just went back through all the directions and must have skipped over the part that mentions that you will need to make size adjustments for a standard size crib mattress. Ugh, I hate when I make dumb mistakes like that. Please learn from my mistake and make sure that if you plan on using a crib mattress- MAKE SURE to adjust your plywood measurements from the ones listed in this article!! That’s all. :)

  • Thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial. I have been hunting down twin beds for my 2 girls and this is perfect for them!! I think I will even add a little corner unit that I can butt them both up against. This is awesome and beautiful! Great job!

  • Wow! great idea..would make a cute reading “daybed” too for older kids already out of toddler beds… ….. I have a 13yo boxer that has arthritis, and i have her doggie bed ontop of an old crib mattress for extra height and cushion…this would make a cute doggie bed for her too!

  • I would also love to know where you got the mattresses, or how you got them, they look super comfy!

  • Plans were great. I blew them up for the size of the crib mattress we were using. Since I was only making one, I was able to get all the plywood needed out of one 4×8 sheet of plywood. Also, I skimped on the batting since it was expensive and I bought it by the yard. I would suggest NOT skimping on the batting. Wish I would have doubled it up like the instructions say. The downside I’ve found is that if a kid is too big for a crib, then they are probably too big for the narrow width of a crib mattress. Our son keeps banging himself into the wall or falling out. We go in the bedroom in the night and find him sleeping diagonally with his feet off the bed. Not sure that we’ll be able to keep him in this bed for long.

  • gabrielle, thanks so much for this tutorial! i just finished my bed and it looks amazing. i couldn’t have done this without you as i have no experience with building things but the tutorial made it so easy. i changed the dimensions to fit my crib mattress and it worked out perfectly (for anyone wondering, i just added 1/2 inch to the dimensions of my mattress). i was able to get all the wood i needed for the project from one 4×8′ sheet of plywood and with a $20 used mattress, the project ended up costing me only $50 total (for the wood, fabric, batting, and the mattress!). this is definitely a great thing to do on a budget! thank you thank you thank you!

    see my project here:


  • I just made one for myself twin size it came out great. Thank you for briliant idea.
    P.S. Buying bulk batting from JoAnn store is chipper and you don’t need it to be cotton because it is more expensive. Ikea is great place to buy fabricks.

  • I love this! I think my tot is ready for a tot bed and I’ve been shopping around and not falling in love with one. But this is perfect!

    Like another commenter said. Could you still use the railings so they couldn’t fall out?

  • Just made this this afternoon for our 2-year-old daughter. To save on time, we used the Eina bed from Ikea and just upholstered it. It was so easy to do and looks great! Thanks for the idea

  • August 15th girl…she did mention in her atricle that you NEED to measure your mattress FIRST!!!!

  • I’m so excited to do this. I’m going to add something different of my own to it but this is great for starting it off. I have to have two toddler beds and they are so expensive to get nice ones.

  • I adjusted the measurements for crib mattresses and also reduced the box height to 8 inches so that I could take apart my bumper and use that to upholster the beds. It worked really well. Now the beds are super cute and coordinated with the bedding I already had. Since a bumper is two-sided, I was able to do both beds with it.

  • Completed this project for my little girl. Totally cute, but first thing I noticed was that the plywood thickness is really flimsy. We get in bed with her to read at night, so I needed something stronger. Even with a thicker plywood it still bows under just her weight so I need to reinforce the plywood piece that the mattress sits on with cross pieces. I spent considerably more on this project b/c I used thicker plywood, bought the suggested batting, and bought 5 yds of fabric so I can cover a toybox seat as well. Cute, but consider making it studier.

  • Love this bed! I wonder if there is an easy way to introduce some tiny legs – we have very uneven floors.

    My son just turned 1 and I will keep this bed in mind for when the time comes. In the mean time, will consider a good solution for legs.

  • I found this after much searching for a cute toddler bed…thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally a cute (and cheap) toddler bed. One thing, any ideas on how to put an attractive rail on it to keep my daughter from rolling off? Thanks again!

  • I just finished making this bed for my 2 year old, and it worked out great. Every time we’ve looked for her this evening, she’s been in her bed. I made one small addition to the plans by adding a headboard. It was quite easy. You just shorten the board that attaches to the 2x2s by one inch, allowing you to slide a headboard into one end. By wrapping batting around and over the top and doing the same with a different color fabric, you can make it look more like a real bed. It was fun. Thanks for the idea!

  • I think I’m going to try this instead of buying some new single sofa’s…just add a bit of board for a back rest…and make the frames square instead of oblong. Thanks for the fantastic idea!

  • so amazing…. i want to do this for my own grown up bed :p

    do you think this can support the weight of adults? anyone had any luck?

  • just came across this on a flook. this is THE perfect solution for my daughter.

    @ david – do you have any pictures/blog, etc to show what your headboard looks like?

  • hi there. i dont know if i am buying the wrong thing but am currently building this for my daughter’s room and our plywood here is $20-30 a sheet and that’s not even the really good stuff. what in the world are you buying that’s $8?

    • christi

      my local home depot has low-cost plywood, but have you tried a local lumber liquidators or salvage yard? that could be another low cost option if your home depot/lowes isn’t stocking the cheaper stuff.


  • Thanks for the tutorial! I saw the link posted on dragonfly designs. My husband and I built one together for our boy over the weekend as our date night. It turned out awesome! Luckily he was there with me and made adjustments like adjusting for the crib mattress and thicker plywood. Thanks again!

  • I just had to say thanks for this great idea. I was able to put this together in a few hours and my son absolutely loves his new ‘big boy bed’. I was able to get a 4×8 sheet of 7/16 plywood at home depot for $7.50 as well as three 2×2 furring strips for $1.50 each. Then walmart had the batting for $5 and I got $1.50/yd fabric. My total cost was $20. I can’t thank you enough for the great idea!

  • This is the first time I comment on your site, but I’ve been keeping up with your work for a while now. I admire the passion with which you write the articles and hope someday I can do the same. Love

  • I love this idea. Seems simple, but I am sure it will take me longer than an afternoon :-). Can you please also show can we can do a full bed with a headboard. Thank you!

  • Yay! Perfect timing since we’re about to transition our twin girls into toddler beds, and want something space-saving…I just found it!

  • Really shouldn’t screw into the end grain of the wood. It’s even worse if you’re using plywood, the wood is going to split and weaken. Even if you use ‘L’ brackets, the metal is stronger than the wood, so it will wear down the wood around the bracket, making the bed frame wobble. If you only plan on using this for a short time, this isn’t a concern. But you could have a potential problem on your hands if the kids jump on the bed.

    Try googling “how to join plywood corners”. Simple answer is to use a 4×4 in the corner and screw into that (drill larger hole through the plywood, so the screw doesn’t bind, you only want the screw to thread on the 4×4 support)

    Other than that, great project, and going to give this one a try over the weekend

  • I love this!!! Now I am definitely going to make my daughters bed. Once I find the right fabric.

  • I just made this yesterday/today (got waylaid by developing pink eye and forgetting to change the measurement of the plywood platform, alas) — it’s great! A few notes: 1. I bought just 1 2/3 yard of the fabric, and stitched three strips together. Easy, not so visible, and less $. 2. Nothing was even close to the prices mentioned above — so this cost me about $70. for just one, but it’s still great. And now I own my own staple gun! For the first night in months, my daughter went to sleep in her bed instead of mine… :)

  • Just made this for my son! I used 2x10s for the long side and scrap 1x10s for the short sides. It’s definitely sturdy enough for a two year old. I pre drilled to make it much simpler. All in all it only took a few hours. Thank you so much for sharing your plans!

  • Can’t wait to build this design…I’m thinking about adding some hinges and a fabric pull to the base piece of plywood for some additional, easy-to-access storage!

  • Thanx for sharing.I was reaaly desperate for finding a way to change color of my daughter’s bed cover :)

  • My husband and I just finished making the frames for this bed for our 2 grandsons who are 2 months apart in age. Followed directions to a T and they came out perfect. Can’t wait to get the final fabric on the batting. Can I ask where you found the comforter shown in the picture you posted? Having a hard time trying to find one ready made in the right size. This is going to be adorable in my nautical themed room with these beds side by side. Thanks for your ideas.

  • We made two of these beds for our grandkids. We used crib mattresses. The turned out great!

  • So cute! We did this in a twin size bed nearly (gulp!) 18 years ago for our first son!! I stained the wood and then used a cute sailboat wallpaper and centered it all the way around. It was the cutest bed ever! Since we continued to have children and have 3 littles (ages 5, 3, and 2), I need to make three of these cuties! Thank you!!