This is an Instructable on how I made a toddler bed out of some old waterbed parts, a little bit of MDF and some foam.
After searching online and not finding a suitable toddler bed for less than a few hundred dollars, I decided to make a frame to hold the mattress out of my daughters crib. I wanted the bed to be on the floor and easy for her to get in and out of without getting hurt. I also wanted it to be padded all around to help prevent any boo-boo's. I was fortunate enough to have the frame from an old king size waterbed still kicking around so...
Step 1: Building the Frame. From a King to a Princess
I measured the mattress and then cut the side rails of the waterbed down to the right lengths with a circular saw. I got really lucky and found an old futon frame I had that was almost the exact width of the mattress. I cut the futon frame down to the right length and then screwed the pieces together. As you can see the waterbed frame has groves down the sides. I used these to hide the screws by putting ribbon in them later. I then cut the original waterbed side rail bumpers down to fit the new frame. These rails simply sit over the top of the frame and are covered in foam and fake leather.
Step 2: Rounding the Corners
After the frame was together I sanded the corners round and smoothed the edges out. The end corners are the only part of the frame that shows when the side pads are on so I made sure to really round them down. I also gave the whole frame a good sanding to get any rough edges smoothed down.
Step 3: Painting the Frame
After the frame was assembled and sanded I gave it a good coat of paint. I like to use the anti mildew/mold primer stuff. Anything that kids are going to be around needs to be as safe as we can make it I think. I let the first coat dry and then did another just to get it all covered well. even though it says its primer it makes a decent top coat as well.
Step 4: Headboard
I cut the headboard from a scrap of MDF I had left over from another project. This is the third project from the same sheet of MDF. I used a large can to get the radius on the corners. You could make them any size but I liked the bigger curve this gave me. The large curve helped out later when upholstering the headboard. I cut the corners using a jig saw and then sanded them down. Next was several coats of primer. I know that the MDF would be covered but I didn't want it getting funky under the foam and fabric, especially since my daughter's head would be right next to it. The MDF soaks the primer right up so it needed several coats.
Step 5: Test Fitting the Headboard
Once the paint was dry on all the parts I pre-drilled holes for the screws and temporarily attached the headboard. Always pre-drill through MDF and if possible use a countersink bit. I then marked where the frame and headboard meet so I knew where to put the edge of the foam and fabric. You probably noticed I did not paint the futon frame part. I chose not to paint this because it already has a thick coat of clear varnish and the black slats had traction tape on them, a past attempt to help hold the futon up on the frame. I chose not to try and peel it off or paint over it.
Step 6: Getting Groovy With Ribbon
At this point I had to make a run to the local sewing store. I got a couple of yards of 1" foam and two different rolls of ribbon. I chose a green ribbon with ladybugs (my daughter loves ladybugs) for the bottom groove and one with farm animals in the top groove. The ribbon was just slightly larger than the groove but that worked out fine. I used a couple of craft glue sticks to glue the ribbons into the frame making sure to smooth them down all the way around. It looked great and it covered the screws used to hold the frame together perfectly.
Step 7: Farm Animals and Ladybugs
Here you can see the two different ribbons in the top and bottom grooves. I loved the way it came out with the farm animals on top and then the ladybugs down below. The green in both ribbons almost matches so it looks like it was meant to be.
Step 8: Upholstering the Headboard. Step 1
Here comes the tricky part.
After removing the headboard from the frame, I cut a piece of foam to cover the headboard from the line I had drawn, back in step 5, to the top with some extra material to wrap up and over the back. After laying everything out I realized that the green foam showed through the flower printed fabric. To fix this, I took an old white sheet (our x-mass tree skirt, lol) and cut it up to go between the foam and fabric. This worked great and the green no longer showed through. They do sell white foam but the sewing/craft shop was out of it so I went with what they had. I laid all three layers, foam, sheet and fabric, down on the headboard face down in reverse order (fabric, sheet then foam) with the bottom edges lined up just over the indication line I had drawn in step 5. After carefully checking and rechecking that everything was lined up right, I stapled the three layers to the headboard being careful to keep a straight line. This edge will be at the bottom of the headboard when assembled so it will show if the staples are not straight.
Next I sprayed the headboard with spray adhesive to hold the foam and keep it from moving around under the fabric. Then I simply folded the foam and fabric layers back up over the top of the headboard and pressed it into the glue.
Step 9: Headboard Step 2
Once the front was glued down, I flipped the whole thing over and pulled the foam tight around the edges. Starting at the bottom edge and carefully working from side to side, I stapled the foam to the back of the headboard. Once I was up to the curved edges, I folded the top over and stapled across the top edge being careful to keep the foam smooth and snug. Don't pull too tight, you don't want to tear the foam at this point. Working from side to side helped in keeping everything even. Once I got to the corners, I trimmed the foam to match the curve. Again being careful to keep the foam smooth, I worked slowly around both corners with the staple gun. Once the foam was done, I repeated the same steps with the white sheet being sure that everything was snug and smooth.
Step 10: Headboard Step 3
Finally, I pulled the flower fabric up and around the headboard and stapled it in the same way as step 9. Then a careful trimming with some sharp scissors and the back of the headboard was almost done. I was planing on putting a back board on to hide the edges but decided against it since the bed would spend most of its life against a wall. You may wonder why I didn't do all the fabric and foam at the same time. The reason is that it would have been much harder to keep everything smooth and even. It took longer and used more staples but the end result was worth it.
Step 11: Assembly
At this point, I screwed the headboard on for the last time. One of the very long screws hit a knot in the wood and stripped the head out and I can't get it out now. Oh well, I didn't want to take it apart again anyway. You can see it looks pretty good as is. Take note that the mattress comes up just under the top of the frame. This is intentional, ensuring the side rail pads have room to sit on the frame and so my daughter can't roll out too easily.
Step 12: Side Rails
After the frame and headboard were finished it was time to cover the side rails. Originally I was planing on reupholstering the rails completely. After looking at them, I decided that it would be easier and better to simply cover right over the original fake leather. Again, I used the white sheet under the flower fabric to hide the dark brown fake leather. I laid the rails out on the fabric, upside down exposing the underside. Then cut strips, with enough extra fabric to go into the groves of the rails. I then pulled the fabric taught and stapled it onto the bottom of the rail. I repeated this process with the flower fabric. I finished the rails off by carefully folding and stapling the fabric in at the ends and stapling the last flap in the grove. Next I took short lengths of velcro and stapled them to the inside, bottom edge of the rails. I put the hook (scratchy) part inside the rails so that the loop (fuzzy) part would be on the top edge of the bed frame. The velcro had adhesive backing but it didn't stick very well so I stapled through the velcro holding it to both surfaces. This worked perfect, the rails stay put and it takes an adult to pull them off.
Step 13: Monster Proofing
Now that the bed frame was all done, it was time for a few more embellishments. Searching through my stuff I found a small brass lions head plate. Since my daughters favorite stuffed animal is a lion, I decided to put this at the end of the bed as her "guardian" gargoyle. Not sure what it was originally for but it had been waiting a long time to find a home. As you can see in the pictures, it was a little dirty but some steel wool and it shined like new again. I really liked how it looks once cleaned up and attached with a couple of brass screws. Plus it keeps the monsters away. ;D
Step 14: Oops, a Little More Upholstery
After I had finished everything on the frame, I realized that just under the headboard the bed frame was unprotected. I had to do a little inventive padding and upholstering but managed to cover the edge with foam and fabric without making it look too bad. It would have been easier if I could take the headboard off or did it earlier, oh well, live and learn right.
Step 15: Flowers and Bugs
Now that the frame and upholstery were all done, I decided to add some sparkly stickers of butterflies, flowers and dragonflies. I also used some regular stickers of bees and ladybugs that we already had.
If you look close you can see in one of the pictures that the top animal ribbon doesn't make it all the way around the frame. Unfortunately, the store where I bought the ribbon only had one roll and it took almost two months for them to get more in. Fortunately, my daughter didn't mind the missing ribbon and just loved her new bed. Way better than a crib.
This project took me a couple of days and cost less than $50. I'm very happy with how it turned out. This idea could easily be done with regular 2x8's and some plywood rather than MDF. I was using what I had sitting around so look around and see what you have. And as always, keep building.