For my 8 year old son’s room, I want to create an alcove bed for him. His room is big so I think building in a cozy bed nook will really help define the space. This project is an IKEA hack which feels appropriate since bed boxes have Scandinavian roots. Let’s get building!
how to build an Alcove Bed
Let’s start with the video tutorial so you get an overview on what I did. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:
If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. It’d mean so much if you’d watch the video! I’m trying to get better at my video skills so I can grow my YouTube channel. If you have a few minutes to watch this and/or subscribe, I’d so appreciate it.
alcove bed plan and inspiration
For this project, I’m very inspired by House Lars Built alcove bed she built for her son.
I also purchased a book on Norway living and looked through it for bed nook ideas so I can give it some historically accurate details while also feeling free to have my own style with it.
What is an alcove bed?
An alcove bed (which is also called a box bed, a closed bed, a bed nook, a bed cupboard, or a niche bed) is a bed built into the room’s architecture. It looks like it is part of the furniture of the room. This originates from Western European late medieval furniture. An alcove bed can also be made by having a frame built around the top half of the bed.
Thomas Jefferson brought the first alcove bed to the United States in the 1790’s when Monticello was built. The bed opened up to his study on one side and his dressing room on the other side. The bed was inspired by his time spent in France.
I sketched up my inspiration- here’s what I’m thinking for Don’s room.
- 2x4x8’s (21 boards) $70
- Plywood (2 sheets) 1/4″ x 4′ x 8′ $124
- Piano Hinge (1 at 48″ long) $14
- Utility Pull (2) $6
- Songesand Bed- Queen with 2 drawers $350
- Luroy Bed Rails $30
- 2″ Wood Screws $16
- 3-1/8″ Wood Screws $16
- Corner Trim $8
- Wood Trim- 1″x3″x8′ $6
- Wood Trim- 1″x6″x8′ $24
- Decorative Center Onlay $57
- Wood Brackets $27
- Paint- Frosted Sage $34
- Kichler Wall Sconce
- Gingham Fabric (4 yards)
- Rod Tape
- Drapery Rod $36
- Crown Molding $40
- Slick Stick Primer
step 1- assembly
Start by putting the bed together. For this project, I’m using the Songesand Bed and Luroy Slats from IKEA for the base. We didn’t assemble the headboard because we’re using another one we have on hand. Plus, my son likes having a soft headboard.
Note, this headboard would give a similar look.
Build the drawers that come with the bed. We then put the bed where we want it to visualize how the alcove bed will look. The bed will be 16″ away from the back wall so that the drawers under the bed can open as well as the dresser drawers.
step 2-headboard frame
Next, it’s time to start building the frame for the alcove bed. First, cut all of the wood to size. We cut ours so the frame will come out to a depth of 16″ and so the height will be the same as the ceiling. Since we have slanted ceilings, each side of the frame will be a different height. The width is that of the queen headboard.
Once the boards are cut, we did the extra step of scribing the boards. Instead of pulling out the original base boards and the chair molding, we’re working around it. So we’re using a Contour Gauge to create the shape of the trim. That’s traced onto the boards and then cut away so the boards go around the trim.
It’d be MUCH easier to remove the trim and then cut it down and replace it once the project is complete. Because we have a historical house that’s older than 100 years, we think it’s best to leave the baseboards where they are. If the trim was newer, we’d definitely remove it.
For behind the headboard, we’re building a box that’ll serve both as extra storage AND push the bed out so the drawers on the bottom of the bed and the dresser can open. To build it, we took the cut 2×4’s and made a ladder shape for both sides of the headboard.
The support pieces are 16″ apart (since that’s how far apart studs usually are). They are two different heights to accommodate for the slant in the ceiling. 49″ for the short side and 91″ for the tall side. This measurement will depend on your ceiling height. The box we’re building is 16″ deep- that works nicely with our dresser depth.
And now, build another 2×4 ladder. This will be for the bottom of the storage behind the headboard. Again, it’s 16″ deep with supports every 16″ apart. We built ours ” wide. On top of the storage base frame, we nailed on a piece of plywood. This will be the bottom of the storage space.
Next, build another 2×4 ladder. This will be for the top of the storage behind the headboard. This one is also 16″ deep, but we did supports an uneven amount apart. Why? Well, closest to the slant in the ceiling we figure we won’t be able to pull up a lid to access the storage. So on the right side we’ll access the storage with two hinged openings there.
At the bottom of the headboard, 15″ up, we’re adding two support beams. This add sturdiness. Also, later when we attach the bed to the framing, it’ll be another place to connect the two pieces.
Then, use screws to attach the framing to the wall. Some of our screws connected with studs and some didn’t. But by adding the framing to the wall, it makes this built in bed actually built in. Plus it’s safely connected to the wall and it makes it even more sturdy.
We also put a piece of plywood in for the bottom of the storage.
step 3- headboard facing
Once the supports are completed, attach the plywood facing to the framing behind the headboard. To attach it, use a nail gun.
We put ours on the inside and the outside of the alcove so it’ll look nice from both angles.
step 4- frame modification
Since we didn’t remove the chair rail or the baseboard, we had to scribe out the plywood so it’ll go around the trim. To do that we used a contour gauge to get the shape of the trim, drew that on the wood and then used a jigsaw to cut out the shape and sanded it down with a Dremel.
At that point, push the bed frame in place. Because we chose 1. not to remove the baseboard and 2. a bed where the legs extend out past the frame, the bed was about 2″ away from the framing. So next up- leg surgery! We cut the leg to be skinnier and to fit alongside the baseboard.
In hindsight, it’d been easier to cut down the two left legs before putting the bed together. If you remove the baseboards, all that needs to be done is to cut the left legs to be flush with the side of the bed.
Also, if you use the same bed frame- the Songesand like us, the headboard legs that extend up need to be cut flush with the top of the bed.
Once the bed fits perfectly flush with the supports, use screws mount the bed frame to the walls and the headboard frame.
Next, mount a light in the space about the headboard framing. We’re using this Kichler Sconce that can be plugged in or hardwired. We have a strange ceiling outlet next to the bed, so we are plugging ours in. This will be used every night for reading time, so it’ll be functional and very cozy!
step 5- Column
At the corner of the foot board, use screws to attach a 2×4 to the bed frame. This will become part of the column supports for the alcove bed.
step 6- header
And now, put together a 12″ high header that spans from the column to the headboard support. This should have support pieces every 16″. Attach it to the headboard frame and column with screws. Also attach it to the ceiling with screws.
step 7- footboard frame
On the column attached to the footboard, we’ll be bulking it up a bit. Why? If it’s thicker we can have the 2×4’s on the footboard frame be use the wide way instead of the skinny way. To bulk up the column, use a 3/8″ spacer and another 2×4 attached to the original 2×4. On the back of that column, attach another 2×4.
Next, build a ladder that is 58 1/2″ wide and 32″ tall. Again, put in support 2×4’s every 16″. Attach that to the column and the wall.
For the top of the Footboard frame, build a header. This one needs to accommodate the slant in our room. The header should be 12″ tall to match the header on the long side.
Let’s now build the top right support. For this, we’re going 12″ wide again with support pieces every 16″ Once again, this one is slanted to go with the ceiling. The slants made construction a little more tricky, but the architecture of the room is so cool I figure this is a good way to celebrate it.
step 8- facing
Next, we’re continuing to add facing to the outside and the inside of the bed. The plywood needs to be cut to fit over the framing. So the framing is the bones and the facing is like the clothing- this is what you see that makes it look finished.
We also added a 2×4 and some facing to the slant on the ceiling in the window at the end of the bed. Note, we’re really glad we added that window. It lets light through to that corner of the room. Plus, it’s helpful to access the mattress when making the bed.
step 9- decorative trim and details
On the edges of the bed frame, I didn’t like how it looked because it’s a 2×4 with plywood on the sides. To clean that up, we used wood and cut it to fit perfectly on all the framing sides.
On the long side of the bed we added a decorative onlay and crown molding around the top of the bed. This trim made a HUGE impact!
On the end of the bed I also used some architectural salvage my sister Kate found me thrift shopping. I LOVE it! The corner of the bed got a corner molding to hide where the two pieces of plywood meet up. We also added wood brackets to the top of each corner of the opening.
After caulking all the seams, wood filling the nail holes, and sanding everything smooth, I primed. The only places I primed are the IKEA furniture that show (the side board and the drawers) and the corner moulding that is PVC. I put on two coats of Slick Stick and let that dry over night. That will make it so the paint doesn’t scratch off on those high traffic areas.
I also made the curtains for the bed. For the curtains, I used two yards of fabric to make each curtain panel. To make them, I simply serged the edges, folded them over and sewed them down.
Then, in the top, I folded over the top again and sewed in some rod tape. That made it so the curtains have a nice pleat to them.
For the storage in the headboard, Preston cut two pieces of plywood and added a utility pull to the ends.
On the other end he added a piano hinge and screwed those into the top of the headboard ledge.
step 10- paint
Finally, the bed was ready for paint. I covered everything in the paint Frosted Sage by Behr. The outside of the alcove bed got painted as well as the inside. I also painted the bead board, walls, and ceiling the same color. Painting took about 4-5 hours. It was intense to get everything painted!
Once the paint was dry, we mounted the curtain rod to the inside of the bed. Then we hung art and some thrifted shelves. Ready to see how it turned out?!
Here’s the complete bed nook. I am SO proud of this project!
It took two weeks of intense work, but it is so magical and exactly what I envisioned.
This was a tricky project, there were times when we weren’t sure how to proceed. But I’m SO glad we stuck it out because I think it’s magnificent.
I think this is such a fun kid bed! I can picture this adding to play time. And making sleeping more cozy at night. It feels like a safe cocoon.
I coordinated the curtains to the euro shams for a custom look. And the gingham is extra fun for me because I designed them and got them made through Spoonflower! I love how they pull the colors of the room together.
We added SO much more storage with the under bed drawers and the headboard bins. I love that we now have more places to hide things.
On the headboard I hung some cat art (Don is cat obsessed). He also has a collection of porcelain cats that I put on shelves. When he antique shops with me, that’s what he hunts for. A bunch are gifts too. I also found some metal letters that spell DON so I mounted those to the wall and painted over them for a subtle look.
For this project, I spent $70 on 21 studs and $124 on the plywood facing sheets. The piano hinge costs $14 for the headboard storage and the utility pulls cost $6. We bought the bed, drawers, and the rails for a total of $380. Screws cost $32. Wood trim was $30 and the corner trim was $8. I bought the decorative onlay for $57. Paint cost $34. The drapery rod is $36 and $40 for crown molding.
The total cost of this project is $833
I will say, I knew this would be an expensive project, but it really added up! I didn’t realize how expensive until I added it up. To be honest, I wish I wouldn’t have bought the IKEA bed- it was hard to work with. It would’ve been easier (and possibly cheaper) to build the base from 2×4’s. But I’m happy that we used the drawers and those are available to buy separately.
Anyway, even though it was expensive, I love it! I think it’s unique and special. I hope Don grows up and remembers his alcove bed. When he got home from school I showed him it all finished. He loves it! And then he closed the drapes and read for awhile. It was perfect.
Thank you for reading and taking the time to visit my blog! I’ve been planning this project since December 2022 and it feels magical to see it done. Your support makes projects like this possible- so thank you! I’m so proud of this bed! What do you think of it? I’d love to hear in the comments.
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