Here is how to make a bed that your daughter will love. I made this bed for my daughter so she would want to make a transition to a big girl bed and have a bed as cool as the dump truck bed I made for my son. Before building the bed, my wife and I searched for a store bought bed but they were all over-priced laminated particle board without character. I knew my daughter would never let it go if I didn't make her bed as cool as her brother’s bed, so I decided I was going to have to deal with making another homemade bed. I designed the coolest princess castle bed she has ever seen.
See my son's dump truck bed here:
Specifications and features of this fairytale castle:
The dimensions are 102 L X 60 W X 65 H inches. It holds a twin size mattress with plenty of square footage for my precious daughter. It could be made into a bunk bed very easily, but I have made the lower portion a play area. The castle has plenty of lights that are all low voltage LEDs for a total of 642 LEDs. Roughly 673 feet of wire (as single conductor) is routed throughout the castle and power is turned on by a control panel. I estimate the weight around 500 lbs and it breaks down into seven manageable pieces.
Step 1: Tools Required and Materials
Circular saw, router, reciprocating saw, belt sander, hand sander, drill, paint brush/roller
Table saw, chop saw, nail gun
Always wear a dust mask or a respirator when cutting MDF
Wear your safety glasses
1 sheets of ¾” laminated particle board 75lb each
7 sheets of ¾” MDF 90lb each
26 14-20 T nuts
14 3” ¼-20 wood bolts
12 1 ½” ¼-20 wood bolts
1 box 1” wood screws
1 box 1 1/2“ wood screws
1 gallon white paint
1 quart pink paint
1 quart purple paint
1 gallon primmer
Lights, switches, wire, power supply
Step 2: Front Wall
The front is comprised of 2 layers of MDF with a top crown treatment, door opening, 2 windows and center tower with light box. This is the first time I have ever made a light box but it was easy. You can find how on the Instructables website. Behind the light box is the control panel (see picture). The IR receivers are behind the light box, you can change the lighting patterns without seeing the sensors. If you use RF, this would not be necessary. The lighted buttons on the control panel are level with the top of the mattress and they can be seen easily if someone gets scared of the dark. All wires were routed between the 2 layers of MDF so no wires are visible or accessible by little fingers.
Step 3: Side Towers
The side towers look simple, but it takes a little patience to get the angles just right. They are mirror images making a left and right tower and only single thickness to keep the weight manageable to move them around. This was my first octagon shaped structure and it took time to get things to work out. All the wires run through the top crown on each.
Step 4: Side Walls
Left Side Wall
The left side wall is comprised of 2 layers of MDF. It has a door and a window. All wires are again between the layers of MDF, however all splices and connections are accessible for repair and maintenance. The power supply is located in base board.
Right Side Wall
The right side wall is a mirror image of the left, only instead of a single window there are 3 windows. The windows are positioned to make it easy to climb up this side of the castle.
Step 5: Ladder and Cantilever Side Tower
This is the first ladder I’ve ever built, it has 4 rungs. I originally wanted an elaborate staircase, but could not fit it into the room. I wanted lighting on the ladder, so it would be safer. I came up with the idea of adding an acrylic center so I could edge light them. It turned out great and the ladder is lit up very well in a dark or even a bright room.
I have not built the slide yet as it made the length dimension too big to fit in the current room. I created a cantilever tower as a place holder instead.
Step 6: Electronics
I opted to use a 12 volt system because the lower voltage is safer. There is also a large selection of lighting options. I chose a waterproof 12 volt power supply from superbrightleds.com and most of the LED lights as well. I purchased the LED strings from Costco. There are 4 circuits to the castle:
1. Twelve LEDs on the top of the towers that light the ceiling blue, two LED lights that light inside the castle
2. Top and bottom tower LED strings and the light box
3. Inside castle chasing LED string lights
4. Stairs and future slide circuit
I used CAT5 cable because it is 8-conductor wire with easy connections. I am not an electrical engineer but I know that the CAT5 conductors can hold the current I am running. Please do your own research to verify for your own project. On a few circuits I had to double up on the conductors to safely handle the current load.
Step 7: Paint and Artwork
You should use the safest paint for
your child you can find. Do some research, your child is worth it. I chose Sherwin Williams Door and Trim paint because I had trouble with the Behr premium latex paint that I used on my son’s bed. The SW paint has a good hard finish and dried quickly. I chose high gloss for ease of maintenance and it looks good. I wish the surface would have been smoother but it works. I knew that I would be bolting the painted panels together and I wanted them to be able to disassemble without sticking. The paint works for this as long as you wait 14 days for it to fully cure.
The back wall of the castle is a
big blank canvas. I had planned on painting a mural on it, but in the interest of saving time I purchased a “Frozen” mural from Fathead.com. I also bought some My Little Pony stickers as well. This makes the art work easy to change, and the bed and artwork can be easily moved to another room.
Step 8: Family Crest
No Castle is complete without a family crest.
Step 9: Happy Princess
My daughter loves her princess
castle bed. She tells everyone she talks to about this very unique castle. It is absolutely priceless. She turns on various lights at night to keep the room from getting too dark. She has not once complained that her brother’s bed is better. Mission accomplished.
The bed cost was $320 dollars without the electronics. This is worth every penny. With everything, it was $630 dollars total. I did reduce a few options because of the accumulating cost, schedule hit and room size. The time to produce this work of art was 7 months of nights and weekends.
I hope you are inspired to create something made in the USA.
Runner Up in the
Epilog Challenge VI