Introduction: Optimized Wooden Bedroom for 2 Children

This instructable is more a presentation of my project rather than a precise tutorial. I think it make no sense to write a very detailed tutorial as this kind of project is very specific to me needs. However, I'm sure that it will be very interested for you to understand the woodworking techniques used and get inspiration for your next room arrangement or furniture project.

Here are my specifications and constrains for this project:

  • put 2 children in a small bedroom (10m²)
  • safe enough for children and babies
  • have as much storage as possible
  • keep it low cost
  • good visual aspect for interior design
  • build-able with standard material, reduced tools and simple assembly techniques

=> Hooooo, it's looks like to be a pretty hard challenge !

Note: This project participate in the Woodworking contest. Please vote this instructable if you like it !

Step 1: BraintStorm and CAD

Before really starting this project, I made some brainstorming and draft on the different possibilities.I have horrible drawing skills but it help to clarify my ideas.

I started to design the different solutions with a CAD software. I used Sketchup because it's a free software and quite easy to handle for people how are not very familiar with CAD. It's a great help to get a good overview of the final result without invest a buck. Yes, It's true that designing the solution on Sketchup took me many hours and could be a waste of time. But I think it help to save money later by avoiding some mistake during the building.

Once I selected the best design for me, I improved it with precise dimension, and kept it updated all along the building.

Tip: I also used Pinterest which is a great inspiration tool for all kind of interior design project..

Step 2: Grab Materials

The next step was to spend some time in DIY shop and hardware shop as well in interior design shop. This help to catch ideas about which materiel to use, and to think about final design.

I also looked at the material prices in order to have an idea of the total project cost. At this step, I realized that material are quite expensive for a project of this size. It influences me on two points:

  • I worked on my CAD furniture models to optimize it and reduce as much as possible the material loss.
  • For some part, I decided to buy second-hand object/furniture and to modify it. For example, it save a lot of money to buy second-hand Ikea furniture and modify/repaint it, compare to build it from zero with material bought from store.
  • I wanted to avoid buying expensive tools. So I designed the furniture to be able to assemble it with basic tools. I only used the following tools: electric drill/screwdriver, miter box and hand saw, portable jigsaw, circular saw, hand metal saw, clamps, dowel guide tool "Joint-Genie", joining drill guide Kreg, electric sander.

Note about powered tools: today, when we buy a new tool, we directly think about electric powered tool. For sure, they are pain less to use compare to hand tools. However, think it twice before buying:

- hand tools are much cheaper than powered tools

- hand tools are smaller so they required a less volume storage

- hand tools are more silent. So, if like me, you live in an apartment, it is easier to build your project the night after your work day without disturbing (too much) your neighbors.

Step 3: Build the Central Support

I first started this project by building the main part: the central support. I made it from 3 second-hand Ikea BILLY bookcase. It was a good base and it allow me to save time and money.

Two of them were 80cm width and one was 60cm width. I cut the bookcases into two similar part of 100cm high. Then I assembled the parts together and added some hardware to get a heavy duty furniture. To smooth the global high (not perfect because of manual cuts), I added on the top a slab of polystyrene foam (20mm thickness) covered with MDF (3mm tickness). To improve the look, I also covered the sides of the furniture with MDF (3mm thickness) and added wood molding elements.

I build a door for each shelf, except for one for which I decided to build a secret drawer with a double bottom. It looks like a standard shelf, but you can pull it and discover a drawer behind. It help to have a better visual result with a furniture which does not looks too much bulky.

For doors, I used wood pallets. I dismounted and cut the boards. Then I attached boards together with wood glue on their edges. I clamped it over the night to let the glue dry. I really like the natural atmosphere of pallets, and moreover it's a free material when you can find it on the street. Good point for the budget! However, I spent a lot of time sanding it in order to get a soft touch without any splinter.

Then I assembled together some plastic storage box from Ikea. I also attached the box to the door. By this way, I got low cost and light drawers. The Ikea box perfectly match with dimensions of the furniture (not surprising because it is made from Ikea bookcase). Finally, I added a handle with an antic style looking.

Note about wood pallet: only select pallet with a good looking, good quality wood and without stain. Take also care of the weather of previous day/week when you are looking for pallets in the street. It avoid to pickup wet wood which could bring humidity, mushroom and bugs on your home. Last but not least, only select pallet with a "HT" logo. It means the wood had been Heat Treated. Other types of pallet are treated with other chemical process, which you don't want for your interior air quality.

Step 4: Build the Upper Bed

To build the upper bed, I started to buy a very cheap second-hand standard bed of 90x190cm. For 30€ I got a strong wood frame (with hardware) and a good quality bed base with lath.

I cut the frame and the bed base to resize it into a children bed of 70x160cm. Then bought some pine wood board to increase the barrier height for security. I used a hand plane to curve the edge before sand it.

Finally, to support this upper bed, I built the legs with 57x57mm battens. I integrated the original bed's hardware on the new legs.

On the photos you can distinguish original frame parts and new parts with the difference of wood graining.

Finally, I sanded all the part then apply a color washer and varnish.

About the lower bed: In a first time, the lower bed is used for a baby. So I decided to kept the baby's bed that I already had. I defined the central furniture height to be able to insert this bed on this dedicated place. In addition, I wanted to keep the possibility for the future to easily replace this bed by a standard children bed of 70x160cm. So I also keep this point in mind the define the furniture dimension.

Step 5: Build the Closet

Once again, for this furniture, I wanted to keep the assembly method as easy as possible.The frame is built from standard wood pine shelf, assembled with 8/10mm dowels.
Cuts are directly realized by the shop when buying materials. It saves pain and time without additional cost, but it is only possible if you previously made a precise plan and Sketchup can help you a lot for that. I used some hardware to stabilize this furniture and attached it on the wall. Once again, I wanted to reduce the cost, so I didn't build any background for this furniture.

For the door, I still used pallet wood. I dismounted and cut the boards. Then I attached boards together with wood glue on their edge. I used a big clamp (specially home made for this occasion) to keep the board tighten during at least 12hours. This method provide very strong assembly. However, as the door is quite large and as the board edges are not perfectly straight on pallets, I also added two boards on the back to consolidate the door. After that, I sanded the door. This step took me quite a lot of time and dust to get a very soft result without splinter. Finally, I added two layers of varnish.

The door is attached to the closet with four strong hinges. They include a speed brake to slowly close the door without any slam noise.

For the internal storage, I installed a hanging rail with actuators to pull it down. I attached two fabric closets on this rail. It allows an easy access to all of the storage volume even with the lower bed placed in front of the closet.

Step 6: Build the Horizontal Wall Shelf

This furniture was the easiest part of this project. I made it with a standard pine wood shelf. The assembly if very simple with 8mm dowel. Then I painted it and add some hardware to screw in on the wall.

The door is made from wood pallet. Cut and assembled with wood glue then sanded. I also add a push/pull opening system to avoid the use of handle (which could be dangerous because located just above the bed).

Step 7: Build the "Stairway to Heaven"

For the stairway, I picked up the idea on a popular IkeHack: use the Ikea TROFAST furniture as a stairway. It is strong enough (made with solid wood, not chipboard) to support a children, and even an adult if ascending carefully. In addition, this furniture include lots of storage box easy-to-use for children.

As this furniture is quite expensive (100€), I got a second-hand one for half price. Good deal !

I then built a hand-rail with wood battens. The hand-rail supports are attached to the furniture with lag screw. By this way I get a very strong hand-rail for good security.

I then use the same technique to build a balustrade between the end of the bed and the stairway. Once again, lag screw helped to get a strong assembly. It's very important for this step because balustrade have to support important load without breaking).

Finally, I sanded all parts and apply a uniform color washer. I then apply 3/4 varnish layer (these parts have to resist to an important traffic).

Step 8: Bonus: Build a Bookcase From Scrap

Once my project was almost done, I realized that it miss a furniture to put my all the children's books. This place has to be easily accessible for her.

So I decided to build a last furniture. I made this last one almost for free because I designed it to build it with scrap only.

Building steps are very basics: cut the wood panel to appropriate size, Drill and glue 8mm wooden dowel, Sand and finally varnish it.

Step 9: Finishes and Embellishment

This is the last and the most enjoyable part of this project. I painted the last wood elements, added some carpet, cushion and various knickknack. I used colorful elements to contrast with the natural wood hue.

To summarize,

  • this project took me about 3 months (only working during after work nights and weekends),
  • and it cost me about 350€ of raw materials, 200€ of embellishment and bedding and 150€ to complete my tools


I am proud of the final result because this project was my first serious woodworking project. The result is more than satisfactory in term of design and volume optimization. As a beginner, I toke me a large amount of time to realize it, but I really enjoy doing it and I learnt a lot. Best of all, my daughter love it !!!

Thanks you for reading me. Hoping my project will inspire you. And if you like it, I will appreciate your vote for the my entry in the woodworking contest !

Woodworking Contest 2017

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest 2017