Friday, February 27, 2009

Cardboard Bunk Bed

For the past couple of days, Emily has been thumbing
the pages of old Christmas toy catalogs, picking out gifts
for her wish list. We don't buy many toys online but I like
having the catalogs in the house because there are so
many good ideas in them for adapting to handmade versions.
One of the items that made it to Emily's wish list was a set
of bunk beds for her dolls. I'd considered buying these
last Christmas but the ones I'd seen had as many bad
as good reviews, usually with adjectives like "flimsy" or
expressions like "you get what you pay for (and not
in a good way)". In other words, they might as well
have been made out of cardboard.


So yesterday morning while Emily was in school, I cut up the
particularly sturdy box we'd been using for Kate's easel
(she'd lost interest in it and preferred to eat the crayons)
and made these bunk beds.

They are essentially two flat box-shaped beds supported by
4 dowels at the corners. I cut out a heart from the headboard

and stuck it on the footboard - that was the only embellishment.

With Jenna hanging on to my hair and Kate trying to grab
at my supplies, I finally gave up about an hour and a half
later and went to pick Emily up from school.

After lunch and while the kids were napping, I continued work.

First, the ladder - probably the part of the
project I enjoyed the most!

It's made of craft sticks hot-glued together. The hooks are
florist's wire bent into shape with pliers and then hot-glued
onto the top ends of the ladder. Upon hindsight, oversize
garment hook fasteners look almost identical.

But anyway, the hooks allow the ladder to be used
anywhere along the rails of the upper bunk

or the footboard.

And because I lack the common sense needed to keep
projects simple, I spent the rest of the napping
hour making bedlinen.

and discovered a way to bind the blankets without basting,
sheer laziness being the mother of improvisation. I suspect,
though, that those talented quilting folks out there
might already know this.

Here are Suzie and Lana asleep in their new beds
(although Lana never closes her eyes).

As expected, the girls immediately fought over their new
cardboard toy. But not because they both wanted the
top bunk. Jenna wanted to play the traditional way but Emily
removed all the bedlinen. She folded the blankets, put away
the pillows, rolled up the mattresses, secured them with
rubber bands and proceeded to play Slumberland and go
furniture shopping. Children!

I apologize if anyone would have liked a tutorial for this.
Often when I am working with cardboard, the process is
so disorganized and non-linear that it is almost
impossible to document. And completely pointless
to photograph. I am, however, happy to roughly describe
what I did if anyone is interested to make this for
themselves. Just leave a comment to say so, or email me!


  1. So so wonderful, as always! and how fun that you recycled K's (unused) easel into a new toy. I was JUST thinking about that idea earlier today. in came on the heels of once again thinking how many many toys my kids have. And wondering what it was like for "pioneer" families. (Or for that matter, what it IS like for kids in families/cultures without all this "disposable" income.) Specifically, I wondered if--or how often--they would dismantle toys (or other household objects) in order to make them into something new. And daydreamed a little what that would be like...

  2. SO CUTE! Love the little hearts! And the ladder!

  3. Please I would love the steps my mom and my niece would love one.

  4. Hi. This is exactly the project I was looking for! Could you please tell me what you used to hold the top bed up and how long they are. Thanks.


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