DIY Cabin Bed


Adventures in Parenting

There’s no bigger adventure than parenthood. It’s beautiful, messy, and unpredictable. That’s part of what makes it so amazing. The little guy who calls this room home has taken us on quite the parenting adventure in his 2.5 years of life. Between torticollis (being born with an extremely tight neck muscle) and the resulting plagiocephaly (flat spot on his head due to not being able to move his neck), food allergies, and not growing/gaining weight as expected, his first few months were pretty challenging. Despite all that was thrown his way shortly after birth, he was the sweetest, happiest baby. I used to joke that that every woman that we saw at Target ran home to get pregnant because he was just so stinking sweet to everyone he came in contact with. Fast forward a couple years and things have settled down considerably. His neck muscles are working normally, his head is relatively round (thanks helmet), we have a much better hold on the world of food allergies, and he is slowly but steadily growing. It is also more likely that all of the women we see at Target are deciding that they will NEVER HAVE KIDS due to the epic toddler tantrums that we are currently battling, but I will gladly take this type of struggle over the last.

We didn’t know the adventure that we were in for with Beckett, and we don't know what we will need to tackle in the future. All we know is that we are infinitely grateful to call Beck and his big sister Peyton ours, and we will continue to embrace the adventure of parenting. This has nothing to do with DIY projects, so why am I telling you all of this? It’s simple- life is full of ups and downs. We can’t always choose the path that our life takes, but we can choose how we will react to it. I’m not saying that the challenges that we have went through with Beckett’s health didn’t take their toll, but having decided to look at them as an adventure rather than feel bad about them has made a huge difference. It’s all about perspective.

New Room for a Little Man

Beckett’s latest adventure has been transitioning from a crib to a “big boy” bed. We wanted to take our time and do this project intentionally so that we could create a special room that would be perfect for him. Since he is our second child and we were living in a 2 bedroom townhouse when he was born, he didn’t have a nursery. We opted to put his crib in our master bedroom in order to preserve the very precious sleeping situation that we had just perfected with our (then) 2 year old daughter. This meant that he didn’t have a cute nursery that was put together just for him. It’s probably the mom guilt talking, but I really wanted to give him the type of special room that we gave his big sister when she was born. This got our wheels turning. An adventure themed room sounded like the perfect fit for him, so then we got to work.

Here’s what Beckett’s bedroom looked like when we bought our house. It was super plain, but full of potential!

Here’s what Beckett’s bedroom looked like when we bought our house. It was super plain, but full of potential!

After creating some new sign designs, building a nesting box style toy storage, and installing a blue shiplap accent wall, we took a brief pause in his room. At the time he was sleeping really well in his crib, and we didn’t want to mess with a good thing. This mama needs her sleep.


The pause gave us plenty of time to decide on a bed. After much debate we settled on a toddler sized cabin bed. We found a plan that we liked from Jen Woodhouse and modified it to make the bed the perfect size for a toddler mattress. If you compare the two beds, you will notice that ours is a little different. That’s because when I say that we modified the plans, what I really mean is that we really liked her bed and my husband decided to build it without actually looking at her plans. Men. Putter loves the challenge of figuring things out for himself so when we find an inspiration for our projects he is always sure to make it his own. Plus, he is some sort of math genius, so he has no trouble figuring out all of the measurements on his own. If you are more like me and start to sweat when you think about math, I highly recommend that you follow Jen’s plans for the twin size cabin bed.

Building the structure

The first thing that we did for this project was to calculate how much material we would need. Since Putter had drawn his own plans for the bed using CAD, we used all of the measurements in his plans to purchase the correct amount of material. For this project we used 2x4 Prime Kiln dried Whitewood stud for the posts, 18mm Sande plywood for the walls, and 1x4 Select pine boards for the roof. We also used scrap pieces of 1/4” MDF to add a board and batten look and trim out the window. After purchasing all of our material, Putter got to work on the table saw, ripping all of the boards down to the correct size. After that we assembled each wall of the bed separately and also framed up the roof. Since we used real wood to build this bed, it is really heavy! Not only would the bed have been too big to fit through the door if we had built all of the walls and permanently attached them during the build, but it would have been SO heavy! Instead we ordered 8 bed rail fittings so that we could easily assemble and disassemble the bed once it was in his room. At the same time that we were building the cabin bed we were also installing new window/door trim and baseboard in Beckett’s room, so we even mimicked the window trim on the bed to the new trim on the bedroom window.

Painting time

I got a little bit impatient waiting for Putter to finish a few of the last details on the bed, so I started priming and painting the majority of the bed before it was finished. In a perfect world I would have waited to paint/prime until it was completed, but sometimes you just have to do things when you have the time. With two little kids, two full time jobs, and running Mill City Workshop in our spare time, that’s just how we roll. After priming all of the wood with a white primer I used my favorite white paint to paint the bed. This is the same paint color that I have used for our shiplap accent wall in the living room and the board and batten in the living room and entryway. It is a bright and beautiful, true white. I like to use an eggshell finish because it allows for easy touch-ups and is much more durable than a flat/matte paint.

The roof

9-has Once the walls and roof were built and finished, our next job was to prep and finish the 1x4’s that we had precut for the roof. After sanding them with a 150 grit sand paper (if you do not use select boards you will need to start with 80 grit and then use 150 grit) it was time to start staining. First I removed all of the excess dust from sanding with a tack cloth. Next I applied General Finishes pre-stain conditioner to all sides of the boards. After waiting 30 minutes for the pre-stain conditioner to soak in, I applied the first coat of stain. Since we were going for a weathered look, I decided to use GF Walnut stain for the first coat, and GF Weathered Gray for the second coat. This combination created the perfect weathered look to coordinate with the toy storage we had previously built (stained in GF Walnut) and the blue shiplap accent wall. After waiting the appropriate amount of time for each layer of stain to dry, I finished by applying GF High Performance Topcoat. I have been using and loving General Finishes water based stains for about a year now and don’t think that I can ever go back. They spread and absorb evenly, and I love that they are water based so that I don’t have to worry about harmful smells or special disposal for the towels that I use to wipe off the excess stain.

With 1x4 roof boards cut to length, sanded, and stained, it was finally time to install them. Since we were using 3.5” wide boards for the roof and wanted to leave a small gap between each board, we needed 15 boards per side on the roof. We also cut a 1”x1” board to run along the roofline so that the slats could butt into it. For this part of the project we used wood glue and screws to secure the slats into place. Once everything was put together, we just needed to add a little finishing touch.

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I wanted some sort of sign on Beckett’s bed to add a little bit of visual interest. After deciding to keep the sign relatively simple, we engraved this “Beck’s Lodge” sign out of a scrap piece of walnut. Now Beckett’s DIY cabin bed is complete!

A few months later…

Beckett has been sleeping in his new bed for about 3 months now, and he still tells us how much he loves it. Every night we hear “I sweep in my new bed!?” This DIY cabin bed has been the perfect choice for our little guy because it’s incredibly durable, creates the same feeling of security that he felt in his crib, and looks adorable. We couldn’t ask for a more successful project! We are fully aware that since we decided to go with a toddler sized bed, we will need to build him a new bed in a few years. Beckett is a very small kid, so I expect he will fit in his toddler sized bed until about age 5. Since we love to do projects, this is no big deal for us. We look forward to hearing his input and building him a new bed that will be perfect for his next stage of life. Until then, I’ll be soaking up all of the moments before my “baby” moves on to his next adventure.