Adventures in Toddler Land… Making a Toddler Loft Bed without a lot of effort

If you are following me online or know me personally, you are getting the picture that I like a big impact with little effort. I like grand ideas without much work involved. My tastes far outweigh my desire to work… or pay for. So I fudge, fiddle and cut corners to achieve all my dreams. And come true they do!

Packing a big punch in a small space

This is the before. You can see I packed a whole lot into a very small space. It ends up a wretched mess every day.

So let us begin, the toddler loft adventure…

Because I am such a wonderful mum (who happens to love being creative amidst the chaos of my life), when one of my kids asks for something cool like a loft bed, I internally do a happy dance. Maybe a bit outwardly too. Then I get to researching. Luckily, Pinterest is taking over the world and has every loft bed imaginable.

I toyed with fancy ideas, simple ones, pretty ones when littles asked for a tree house. With a TV and a remote. And a drink holder.

Take a moment to admire my beloved tree with me. I painted this tree 7+ years ago. I love this tree. I am the only one who does. But still, every time it comes up to NOT have the tree, I fight to spare its life. I love this tree.

*insert more happy dance moves… yes, a tree house it will be!

I took stock… Biggest and littles share a bedroom with 2 Ikea Expedite bookshelves creating a 24 cubed wall. I wanted to keep that as is, so I decided to follow the lines of the cubby so they would still remain as usable as possible. One thing to consider is that you will loose under bed storage space when making a loft bed. If you live in a small-ish home like mine, this makes a big difference. I needed those cubbies. So in a corner it would be.

Hard at work

I took to scrounging around for wood. I had made a loft bed several years back for bigger and recently took it down, sadly, when no one wanted it. I had lots of wood pieces available to use. I just had to trim down my two already made rail pieces to create the outer frame. If you don’t have this lying around in your back pocket, then you will want two 2×6 pieces and two 2×2 pieces of wood cut to size. Because I am working on a custom sizing, mine was 69 3/4″.  Screw the 2×2 to the bottom of the 2×6 to create a rail with cleats.

Pre-made bed rail, cut to size

Again, following the bookshelves, I added in two 2×4 pieces cut to length to create an almost box. After locating the studs with my handy dandy stud finder, I used 5/16 lag bolts with large washers with an impact drill I stole from the husband to attach one railing with my two end pieces attached to the wall.  Yes, I did this on my own. It was stinkin’ heavy. But I used my pre-cut 2×4’s support legs to lay the railing on in order to lag bolt this baby in.  The husband eyeballed it for two-tenths of a second adding in the need for another support, so I added a 1×4 in the center… All legs are in the studs, of course. Lag bolt your 2×4 end piece into the wall studs.

Next, using more pre-cut 2×4 support legs, hoist up the second railing (happy dance when you get your measurements PERFECT), screw in the front railing to the lag bolted end piece by the wall with 3″ wood screws. I contemplated lag bolts here but felt it overkill. And my impact drill battery was dead.  Do the same to the other side. Now to secure the front legs- I used 3″ wood screws and L brackets. I guess I decided overkill was the way to go here. I did this for both front legs. Now, this would have been the best time to paint the railings and innards of the bed. I didn’t. I should have. Learn from my impatience.


Moving on, I cut seven 2×4’s as bed slats. I spaced them every 7 or 8 inches, so it would give max support without too much additional weight. I did the shake test- nothings moving… I’m feeling good with my handy work. I did not screw in the bed slats. I don’t know why, but just wanted the freedom to update or change the design without a hassle. I next laid on the 3 weird particle board pieces I had Home Depot cut for me. I secured it from sliding around with 3 wood screws. You should be efficient and properly secure it. Again, for me, the freedom thing.

I was a little nervous about the side by the book shelf- it isn’t secured to the wall. So, for extra support, I added in a 2×3 cut to length between the two legs, on the floor. Shake test results: this baby ain’t going anywhere.

2×3 floor support


leg supports- 2x4's lag bolted into the wall studs
leg supports- 2×4’s lag bolted into the wall studs

Finally, the fun part, the tree house wall! I wanted as much tree house wall as possible but still wanted to be able to fit myself up in the bed if necessary so I left it as a 24-inch opening. Using littles old bed slats (1×6’s), I attached 2 “posts” with 4 wood screws. I added a spare 2×4 piece on the wall and the post into that for additional support.  Now to add on the wall slats. Once done, it looked… incomplete. I added another post at the end of the bed…. still incomplete. I held up a header board…. perfect! Gah, but I had to take down the top wall slat, cut it shorter to make space. In retrospect, I would have kept the top piece a continuous line by not cutting it. Whatever, it’s still cute.

incomplete version

Then paint. And paint. Until your eyes cross. I only sanded a few places that would cause splinter drama, I wanted an authentic treehouse feel. (I just really didn’t want to sand. Really, really didn’t want to sand.) It took 3 layers to cover the prepainted colors, but I barrelled through knowing I am not good at coming back to a project once it’s this far along. I added fleece woodland creatures fabric held by the bed slats and a random thumb tack hidden away on the “underneaf” cause, honestly, I was just sick of painting. No one need know this. It looks well thought out.

Nearly complete!
Nearly complete!
See the double 2x4 supports? Yeah, me neither... the DREAM is really cutie!
See the double 2×4 supports? Yeah, me neither… the DREAM is really cutie!
Peppa pig DIY doll house
Peppa pig DIY doll house
Husbands back pocket ladder
Husbands back pocket ladder
Meet bunny no name
Meet bunny no name

This pretty version only lasted about 20 minutes. Sigh.

I only had to purchase the weird particle board pieces and the lag bolt hardware so I got off cheap. The moral of the story is to reuse and repurpose!

Oh, the ladder. I ran out of wood. Husband apparently keeps ladders in his back pocket so we have temporary relief until I go buy some more wood…. now back to the drawing board… a slide, a traditional ladder, a climbing wall…


Check out my Pinterest board for a bazillion loft bed inspirations! The possibilities are endless. It’s ridiculous, I know. Pinterest Board of Awesome

What’s your littles dream bed look like?






2 Replies to “Adventures in Toddler Land… Making a Toddler Loft Bed without a lot of effort”

  1. I was amazed when I walked in the room that day! Great job mommy! It turned out great and the kids love it. I am very happy now to be a subscriber of yours. Now I can read about all your creativity that randomly pops up to illuminate our home. Kinda like a wildflower! Poppin up where you least expect it, creating something nice for our home.You go girl!!!

    1. Rachel Mijares says: Reply

      I’d say welcome, but you already live here… so…. Thanks, husband!

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