When my son was 4 years old, my wife and I needed to move him out of his convertible toddler bed to a “big kid bed” so that our daughter could begin to use the former.
He wasn’t excited about it, so I offered to build him a new bed that was “the most awesome bed ever”, and the result was a success that made him very happy.
Our daughter is no dummy though … as she approached her fourth birthday, she began asking for her own special “big girl bed”.
And while our son had given us complete “creative control”, our daughter was a little more specific: “a fairy princess castle bed … preferably pink,” she said.
My daughter’s first draft of the hack
3D model before construction began
This is the Fairy Princess Castle Bed we built for her:
Watch my YouTube video, including 3D model, time lapse of the assembly, and my daughter’s reaction to her Fairy Princess Castle Bed:
IKEA items used for castle bed:
- 1 Kura bed tent
- ~30’ of 2x4s
- ~80’ of 2x2s
- ~16’ of 1x4s
- ~15’ of 1x10s
- 3’ of 1×12
- 18 2’ x 4’ white mdf panels
- 6 2’x4’ faux stone panels
- ~30 ft2 of laminate flooring
- ~30 ft2 of plywood
- ~25’ of nature-themed moulding
- ~50’ of plain moulding
- Strips of hobby wood
- 4 flat metal bars
- 22 button magnets
- Square dowels of varying thickness
- Bundle of cedar siding
- Various pieces of hardware
- Roll of grey contact paper
- Quart of pink paint
- Several quarts dark brown (Jacobean) stain
- Several quarts of clear lacquer
- Quart of black paint
- Various fake plants
- 2 sets of remote-controlled LED strip lights
- 1 Aukey table light
- Belt sander
- Sandpaper (60-220 grit) and sanding block
- Rip cut saw
- Hack saw
- Back cut saw
- Miter box
- Various screw drivers
- Various paint brushes
- Super glue
- Caulk gun
- Hot glue gun
- Staple gun
How we put together the Fairy Princess Castle Bed
This hack was so extensive that giving detailed step-by-step instructions would be a book in itself, so here’s a concise summary:
The hack consists of 2 major sections (each of which is comprised of a separate Kura bed):
I. “The bed”
1. Use belt sander to strip preexisting lacquer off all Kura parts
2. Stain all wooden Kura parts
3. Cover mdf panels provided with the Kura with grey contact paper on one side.
4. Assemble Kura roughly according to IKEA’s conventional directions, but keep each of the 4 walls separate from one another. Only notable exception is to not include the upper rail to the side wall adjacent to the ladder – as this will be where “the bed” joins “the tower”. This will also require 2 2x4s (or alternatively 2 2x2s) to help support the back wall, which otherwise can’t be assembled independently of the others.
5. Create frames for the door and window using 2x4s and 2×2 respectively.
Finishing the bed half
Front wall almost finished
6. Construct the door from bed slats taken from the second Kura: Cut off the ends to create the proper height. Attach them together using rectangular dowels nailed to their back sides.
Future door from bed slats
Use hacksaw to cut metal bars to the width of the door, superglue metal button magnets on the front to look like rivets, and paint the bar/magnet pieces black. Once dry, attach to the bed slats.
(Super gluing them didn’t hold well – I had better luck with drilling shallow holes into the slats, filling with construction adhesive, and then clamping the bars over them for 24 hours. Be sure to roughen the back side of the bars for maximum adhesion).
Once door finished, attach to the frame via hinges.
Optional: Attached pink wooden fairy to the door using the same drill hole-filled with adhesive approach.
7. Construct window shutters using square dowels and strips of “hobby wood”. Paint pink. Attach to window frame.
Window shutters in various stages of completion
8. Use white mdf panels for the walls. (The ones I used were actually intended for whiteboards, so were smooth white on one side, and rough/unfinished on the other. The smooth white side replicated dry wall relatively well). Attached walls to the inside of each of the now-assembled Kura wall frames.
9. Cut faux stone panels to fit into the preexisting spaces in the front frame. (I used Wellington light grey panels from fauxpanels.com. Attach to the backside of the mdf panels using construction adhesive.
10. Create an inset for behind the ladder using the same general principles used in steps 8 and 9.
11. Cut, sand, and stain plain moulding to use inside the first floor of “the bed” to cover over seems
II. “The Tower”
This is the more difficult half to hack/construct.
First, the tower consists of part of the second Kura bed tipped on its side (It doesn’t include the top rail – which can be used as 2×2’s anywhere else in the project).
Also, the tipped Kura may not be structurally sound; I create a platform for the second floor of the tower using 2×4’s, 2×2’s, and plywood, which stood completely independently of the visible tower.
12. As with “the bed”, strip and stain all wooden Kura parts.
13. Also as with “the bed”, assemble the 4 walls using the 12 main edge pieces to the bed/tower.
14. Create a lower platform using plywood placed on top of spare bed slats. (This will go directly on the actual room’s floor when finished)
15. Create the upper platform using 2x4s for the vertical supports, 2x2s for the “beams”, and plywood for the floor. The plywood can be covered on one side with the white mdf panels to make a nice ceiling for the first floor.
16. Use a combination of 2×2’s and mdf panels to create a wall that will divide the first floor into 2 halves. The left half will become an alcove for the hide-away bookcase, and the right will become a “secret passage”.
Inside castle bed – secret passage closed
Inside castle bed – secret passage open
Secret passage exit to outside
17. Create the sliding platform for the bookcase. I used 2 2x4s attached to the lower platform, 2 2x4s attached to a horizontal 1×12 that acted as a shelf, linked together by industrial-strength, full extension drawer slides. (I used 32” drawer slides made by Hettich)
Sliding platform for bookcase
18. Use a combination of 2×4’s, 2×2’s, mdf panels, and faux stone panels to create the front and side walls in similar fashion to what was done for “the bed”.
This should include swinging doors covered with stone panel that will act like hidden compartments for the bookcase and secret passage.
The back wall of the tower will rest against the wall of the actual room and thus, can be left open as it was for “the bed”.
Backside of tower, almost finished
19. Build door and window shutters as done with “the bed”.
20. Use plain moulding to cover vertical seams inside the tower, and additional moulding around the top (I used nature-themed moulding).
21. Cut wooden laminate flooring to cover both the lower and upper platforms. (You do not need to worry about underlayment for this kind of usage)
Inside of tower without the upper platform
Inside the first floor (i.e. under the mattress)
22. Build a bookcase that will fit in the alcove and on top of the sliding platform built during step 17. (I would have preferred to use an IKEA bookcase – for example, a Bestå or Billy bookcase – but there wasn’t one that was the appropriate size).
Paint (or finish) bookcase. I also glued some thin strips of nature-themed moulding to the front to add some character.
III. “The tower roof”
23. The tower roof was the most elaborate and challenging step.
Calculating measurements for the tower roof
Angled wood used as a radial beam for the tower’s vaulted ceiling
To begin, create a frame that will firmly attach to the top of the tower and also provide a lip for the roof to sit in.
(This way, the roof will stay on by virtue of its weight alone, and you won’t need to worry about separately securing the roof.)
Vaulted ceiling inside tower
The roof is built from 4 triangular shaped mdf panels, joined together by pairs of angled wooden dowels that act as radial beams for a vaulted, pyramid shaped ceiling.
(I lacked the tools to do create those “beams”, so this involved a lot of sanding and revisions.) For the roof, I used cedar siding (which I needed to recut and sand prior to painting pink).
Tower roof, about halfway finished
IV. Assembly of the Castle Bed
By this point, you should have 4-5 different pieces for “the bed” (4 walls +/- separate inset behind the ladder), slats for “the bed”, and ~12 different pieces for “the tower” (4 walls, 2 platforms, 2-4 vertical posts for upper platform, 1 inner vertical wall on first floor, bookcase, roof frame, roof). Time to put them all together. (The main assembly took me ~10 hours, separated across 2 days).
Now install the lights, any miniature furniture (e.g. pillows, kids chair, toy box), and attach fake plants (I literally stapled them to the wood frame).
Parts that will eventually become the exterior light fixture
Finished exterior light
Add mattress and bed tent.
Woohoo – you’re finally done!
Our daughter loves her Fairy Princess Castle bed.
How long and how much did the castle bed cost?
Took 10 months and ~400 hours. Total cost was about $2000-2500 US (I didn’t keep receipts).
What do you like most about the castle bed?
How much my daughter likes it.
What was the hardest part about the hack?
Getting the hidden bookcase to slide in and out of its alcove with enough ease that my daughter could easily do it herself.
What to pay special attention to?
A Kura bed is not necessarily structurally stable if used on its side. Also, be 100% sure this monstrosity will fit into its destination room before you start!
Looking back, would you have done the castle bed differently?
I would have spent less time on the shingled roof, which is literally not visible without a step stool.
~ by Eric Strong
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