The DIY Kids Bed a London Couple Crafted Out of Salvaged Wood
Welcome to DIY Diary. Each entry covers a new home improvement project. Here, London couple Sophia and Simon Cook turn leftover lumber into a kids bed frame for their two toddlers.
Sophia and Simon Cook were used to sleepless nights. As the parents of two toddlers, Alfred and Edith, they often found themselves falling asleep in their children’s twin beds after putting them down for the evening.
“They all want to cram into one bed,” said Sophia, a content creator, who noted that their previous setup “wasn’t practical at all.” It was then that Simon, a creative director and amateur woodworker (who goes by Cookie), determined he was going to make a “solid, good bed” from scratch, one that was big enough to fit the whole family.
“I really didn’t want to build a silly kids bed, like something that looked like a giant teddy bear or a sports car,” said Cookie, who has always been a “crafty, creative person.” “I wanted to build a completely functional bed while they are children, that would also be a completely functional bed when they’re a teenager or an adult."
Previously, Cookie’s only tools had been a handsaw and a screwdriver. But he had developed his craft significantly during the COVID lockdown, watching endless instructional videos and working the day away in his shed. He’s “the kind of person that will look at something and be able to put it together,” Sophia shared. With that innate skill, it became clear Cookie was ready to tackle a bigger job—like a solid bed for the entire family.
To build a bed, you’ll need:
8 planks of 1x10' oak wood
4"-square fence posts (measuring about 10 feet long)
For the bed dressing you’ll need:
Donna Wilson Soft Toys (acorn cushion and leaf bolster)
Step 1: Prepare the Wood
Looking to make a “fairly basic, simple design,” Cookie headed to Google to get some design ideas. The family had a bunch of wood that had “sat in the garden for a number of years” that was left over from their home renovation, and it had developed a cool “weathered” look. Simon fed each plank of wood through a planer purchased for him for Christmas by Sophia in order to smooth and level the wood. The use of the planer “just made this project so much easier,” said Cookie.
Step 2: Make the bed posts
To make the bed posts, Cookie used recycled fence posts from their backyard. He determined this project would use mortise and tenon joints, which create strong, durable joints that lock into place and surround the wood. That’s a sharp pivot from his previous projects, which were mostly items that were “screwed together.” On each of the fence posts, Cookie marked out where he wanted the three large mortise holes to be.
Using a drill, he drilled 20-mm-wide holes to create the space for the tenon joints to lock in. “I started off basically just drilling holes into the wood,” said Cookie, who continued in a straight line up and down the wood to make the mortise holes into long rectangles. To chip away the rounded bits, he used a chisel, which he felt “not very experienced with.” Still, he just kind of “hammered away at it” to create the mortise holes in the wood. This was the hardest part of the process since the mortise holes “kind of go all the way through the solid oak posts, and have to be quite accurate,” he noted.
Step 3. Cut the tenons
Once he finished the posts, Cookie needed to cut the tenons on the sides of the bed so they could fit into the holes in the posts. To thin out the wood, Cookie had to plane off some of the thickness.
To get a nice finish on the posts and the planks, he sanded them down using sandpaper of varying grit levels. “When you stain a piece of wood that’s been sanded, it always comes out much better,” he said. Using a wood router, he went around the edges of the planks, taking the corners off to make them smooth.
Step 5. Stain the wood
Sophia tackled the task of staining the wood with an ebony color. She brushed it on and then wiped it off. “When you rub it off, it’s just the grain that stays black, and reveals golden-brown wood,” said Simon. That was followed by a coat of varnish on top to make it waterproof. While she’s generally someone who “leaves it to the experts,” Sophia found the staining aspect pretty straightforward.
Step 6. Assemble the bed
After everything was stained and varnished, Cookie fiddled around a bit to make sure all the mortise and tenons would fit. In each tenon, he cut a small slit with a saw and then hammered the slits back in to make it secure, locking it into place.
Once all the tenons were cut, Cookie assembled the headboard and footboard, and attached them to the horizontal long boards of the bed.
While he primarily constructed the bed in his work shed, it was too big to assemble out there and then move inside. He carried each piece inside individually to put it together in the children's room. When he was there, he slotted each piece into the holes and hammered the wedges in to make it sturdy. He then used a drill to screw on the boards that go under the mattress.
“I stuck a mattress on, lied in it, and to be honest, it’s probably the most solid and comfortable bed I’ve ever laid in,” said Cookie, who noted the entire project took about a month and a half of working on the weekends. As for the children, they’ve proven to be big fans of it as well. But for Sophia, the most rewarding aspect of the project is the entire family’s involvement.
“There’s always a story behind it, and it feels kind of special that we’re all involved in it as well,” concluded Sophia.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
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