Update: DIY Upholstered Bed

Remember the bed I upholstered for the little man back last year?

Well, when we moved, I had to take bits of it apart so we could get it through the doorways. It was an easy process – I just pulled out the staples and peeled the fabric back around the corners so that I could get to the screws (and around the middle of the foot board, because that’s where the support beam is attached).
It had been working out really well, but there were a couple of things that weren’t perfect. So, before putting it all back together, I made a few tweaks.

The Bed Base
I initially bought the cheapest bed base Ikea sells – the Sultan Lade. The slats are solid pine, it costs $30, and it’s absolute rubbish. It’s hard to tell in this photo, but they don’t span the width of the bed – instead, they’re in two rows which rest on the support beam in the middle of the bed. Need to move the bed to, say, tuck the sheets in? Don’t. This happens:
Gah. I tried screwing them to the bed frame periodically along both the sides and the middle, but it didn’t help – it just made it really hard to get them back into place when they collapsed again. So I packed them up and took them back to Ikea. I didn’t have the receipt anymore but when I took them to the returns desk, before I even said anything, the girl asked, “Did they keep falling off?” I’m guessing this happens a lot. She gave me a store credit, which I put towards a $50 Sultan Luroy bed base instead.


You have no idea how much sturdier this base makes the whole bed. And it’s grey, so I can now rest assured knowing that the bits of the bed that no-one will ever see are coordinated. 🙂

The Head Board
I also found out after I put the headboard together first time around that cheap plywood contains formaldehyde and can off-gas something chronic. It’s not something you want your baby to spend 50% of his life inhaling, and it’s another reason why we never moved S into his old big boy bedroom. So I took the entire headboard apart, pulled the old plywood off and replaced it with formaldehyde free birch plywood. It was more expensive – $45 versus $15 for the cheap, nasty stuff, but I think I can stretch to an extra $30 to avoid having my son sleep next to a known carcinogen. Eek. (You can read more about the health effects of formaldehyde exposure here.)
As a bonus, it looks more presentable from the back now:
Finishing Touches
I was considering putting the bed up against the walls of windows in S’s new room and, if I had, I was going to cover the entire back with fabric to make it more polished. If you’re thinking of doing your own take on this project, it’s an idea you might want to consider.
Finally, I gave the legs another coat of paint – this time using high gloss white. It’s not a very noticeable difference, but it makes it feel that much more finished.

It’s held up very well so far, and still looks great. And it’s perfect for a hyperactive an energetic three-year-old – there has been more than one occasion when the padding has helped avoid injury. Here it is in it’s new room…

The plastic bins peeking out from under the bed are toy storage, in case you were wondering.

Incidentally, you might have seen this beauty from Land of Nod – so pretty but also four times the price…


Came out after I made my “knock-off.” Pretty sure they got the idea from me. Or the guy I got my idea from. Whatever.

I’ve had a couple of readers send me photos of their take on this project – I love that they were happy to share their awesome beds with me – and you lot too. 🙂

Joyce made this one for her daughter – I love the fabric they picked out.

Her daughter also made the pillows herself – super cute.

And Sona made a twin bed for her little girl too – she used colorful corduroy fabric – perfect for a fun five-year-old (who’s probably six by now – it’s taken me a long time to post this!)…

I love the tufted detail she used.

I’d love to see the results if anyone else gives this project a go – it really was a super easy way to get a custom bed for a fraction of what you’d pay in a store normally.


1 Comment

  1. January 16, 2013 / 11:32 am

    Upholstering the bed frame is such a great idea in a kids room. We haven't done this project (yet) but we injure ourselves on the bedframe at least once a week (Lucy just knocked her head into it yesterday!) Thanks for the great idea!