How we built our own cabin bed out of plywood and created a restful, but fun and inspiring unisex bedroom for our son.

Like all good stories, it starts at the beginning, with a little bit of sadness…but don’t worry cause *spoiler alert* the ending is a happy one.

DIY Plywood Cabin Bed
DIY Plywood Cabin Bed

The story.

When we bought our first home together as husband and wife we were pregnant with our first pregnancy through IVF. Unfortunately a few days before moving in we sadly lost that baby. I’m telling you this so that you will understand why this is one of the only rooms in our home to have been redecorated. I normally always move house before I even consider redecorating…and yes, I’ve moved house A LOT!

When we moved in it was already decorated as a little boys nursery, painted in a baby blue colour with decals all over the walls, a zoo themed blind and a dark blue carpet. I couldn’t bear to look at it any longer so I quickly painted it in my favourite neutral at the time -‘Egyptian Cotton’ a warm greige by Dulux. We put in a vintage writing desk and a cute little vintage wardrobe, The famous IKEA daybed of the time…you know the one and ripped up the old blue carpet that literally sucked all the light out of the room. It was kind of like therapy and a fresh start.

This estate agent photo is the only one I have of the room as we decorated it as soon as we moved in.

Fast forward another couple of years and we were pregnant again, it was a worrying pregnancy as you can imagine so we were not ready to make any permanent commitments like decorating a nursery. When we were lucky enough to reach the 35 week mark I made some very basic “art” for the walls (I’m no artist), stitched together a hot air balloon mobile, converted the vintage writing desk into a changing table (I was pretty pleased with that bit) and put up some of our old wedding bunting to brighten up the walls.

It was all a bit miss matched but it was cute enough and would do until we got to know our baby…then we could make him/her a real bedroom that suited their personality.

The colours.

Once our son reached 2 years old and out-grew his cot bed we knew that it was time to give him a new room of his own with a proper big boys bed. We wanted him to have a say in the colours we used as after all, it is his room but I was not going to budge on the dark blue walls, we had a really bad sleeper and I wanted the room to be dark and cosy so that he would just SLEEP. Oh god please let him sleep.

We painted the walls, skirts and ceiling in the same colour to make the room feel bigger.

Our son loves bright colours though so there had to be some colour pops in there too. So we took the bold move of asking a two year old what other colours he would like and thankfully the kid did well…he wanted his two favourite colours, which at the time were yellow and orange. His favourite colours at the moment are violet (niche or what?) and green. This story could have worked out very differently.

I already had a tester pot of Stiffkey Blue by Farrow and Ball from when we were choosing the colours for the kitchen cupboards, and we had a beautifully illustrated story book called ‘Pom Pom the Champion’ by Sophy Henn. When I saw the front cover with the tester pot of the Stiffkey blue I knew exactly the shades we needed.

Book covers and prints can be a great source of colour inspiration.

So, off I went to B&Q to get them matched up. The yellow is called ‘Honey Tangerine’ and the orange is ‘Cajun Shrimp’, isn’t that just the most perfect name for this colour? – both are by Valspar.

The colours were now decided and that’s sometimes the hardest part, right?

‘Stiffkey Blue’ by Farrow and Ball acts as a calming base colour
and the bright accent colours really pop against it.

My Pinterest and mood boards were all sharing one reoccurring theme though, a cabin bed. I’d seen a few in beautiful scandi homes on Pinterest so I did a bit of googling to see if I could find one that I didn’t need to sell a kidney for. I couldn’t. There are a few more available now though. I think were doing a good affordable cabin bed but unfortunately it seems to be currently out of stock.

The inspiration from Diddle Tinkers.

The cabin bed.

I showed Ross the style of cabin bed I had in mind for Finn’s room. I really wanted one with a solid roof, not just a frame. I liked the framed beds and they looked a lot simpler to build…maybe even less imposing in a small room but Finn, like a lot of children likes to hide under things. It makes him feel safe, if he gets told off or feels shy the first thing he’ll do is crawl under a piece of furniture.

DIY Plywood Cabin Bed

I thought a cosy roof with a night light would make him feel safe on that transition from cot to bed and if we put LED festoons on top, it would be a nice stylish option for his nightlight. We added the window so that he could look out and reach for his water or book on his side table. He now loves to serve imaginary ice-creams from his little window in the cabin bed and uses it to play shop which is a lovely little bonus.

What you will need for the cabin bed

Your dimensions may be different depending your mattress or the size and layout of your room so this post is just meant as a guide but we used the following:

  • 2 large sheets of plywood (OSB or painted mdf could also work)
  • 8 x Heavy Duty Angle brackets
  • 6 x L-Shaped Metal Corner Bracket
DIY Plywood Cabin Bed
DIY Plywood Cabin Bed

Cabin Bed Roof

  • 4 x good quality multi thread wood screws for the corners (these can be filled in and sanded later)
  • Wood glue for the centre which should be cut to a 45 degree angle
DIY Plywood Cabin Bed

The measurements for the cabin bed

We built this bed around two IKEA mattresses that we already had from our old daybed. The great thing about stacking the two mattresses and concealing them within the base is that we can easily bring one out and use it for sleep-overs or when Finn gets sick and wants one of us to stay with him.

DIY Plywood Cabin Bed


1 & 2 57cm x 60 cm

Side Panel

3 & 4 82 cm x 208 cm


5 24 cm x 34 cm


6 86 cm x 82 cm


7 86 cm x 25cm


8 86 cm 208 cm

DIY Plywood Cabin Bed

The furniture

As well as the cabin bed, Ross also built fitted wardrobes out of plywood and we brought in my old midcentury drawers which add some much needed character and look just perfect in his room. It makes me so happy that I am able to keep hold of them for a little while longer, although I think we’ll build him a desk area with book shelves into this corner eventually but at the moment it’s nice to have the extra storage space.

When we moved into the house the only original fireplace that remained was in our living room. I had planned on buying a vintage one and fitting it into this room, but to be honest it wouldn’t have suited Finn and his needs that well. He needed a bookcase low enough for him to reach and access his favourite books. I’m a bit of a sucker for a beautifully illustrated children book and when displayed they act as art in themselves.

When I saw the ‘Scotty Decorative Fireplace Shelf’ in the La Redoute sale I though it would be the perfect solution, adding detail and some much needed depth to the room and it’s practical and functional too. We of course painted it in the ‘Cajun Shrimp’ to add a bit of a spicy kick.

Unisex children's room design using bold colours.
DIY Plywood Cabin Bed
Unisex children's room design using bold colours.
Unisex children's room design using bold colours.

Future proofing

While we’re on the subject of desks and bookshelves…it’s really important when you’re designing a children’s room to think about the future. As much as you don’t want to wish the time away, children and their needs change so quickly and ideally you want to be able to adapt the room fairly easily so that the room can grow and evolve with them.

Washi tape is your best friend, it enables you to change up the art on the walls as often as your kid changes their mind on which vegetable to be afraid of. If you are a renting it is perfect too as it doesn’t damage the walls.

Unisex children's room design using bold colours.

We’ve chosen grown up light fittings such as this matt blue and copper pendent light from Artifact as this would still look stylish in a teenagers room or adults room too for that matter. My son thinks it looks like a spaceship which is another little unexpected bonus. Maybe I should add some flames to the bottom of it…

Unisex children's room design using bold colours.

This stylish rocker light switch from from Swtch could not be more perfect if we’d designed it ourselves. It’s dark blue, almost a colour match for Finn’s Stiffkey Blue walls and the sides are plywood…it’s a match made in heaven.

I’m a firm believer that your switches and plug sockets should be a feature in the room and not something to be hidden or an after thought. It’s sometimes the smaller details that make the biggest impact. What I love about these switches is that you can change the colour of the rockers and that backgrounds so match your interiors perfectly.

DIY Plywood Cabin Bed

The dark blue wall colour is quite grown up too and could be updated easily by switching out the yellow and the orange for something more neutral. Although there’s nothing to say blue, mustard and orange can’t be grown up. The stars and decals that we bought on Amazon can be peeled off easily without damaging the walls.

I’ve had my eyes on a solar system mobile similar to the one in the Pinterest inspo pic below from Alice in Scandiland, I just need to save up my pocket money.

Unisex children's room design using bold colours.
This image has been taken from Pineterst and is not mine. I am unable to find the owner of this image to credit.

Even his cabin bed can be adapted and built on for the next few years once we know for sure that he’s old enough no to roll out. We can add drawers or a desk underneath or put it on legs and add a ladder so that he can use the underneath to play under and build a den if he wants.

This is the sketch that Ross did right at the beginning when we were planning the design of the cabin bed and we may be just about ready to build on this this year. In fact Ross has some really exciting ideas up his sleeve so watch this space…

Finally, the custard on the slice…the yellow radiator that gives me such joy and gives the wall a little burst of sunshine. It takes up half the space of the old one and is a feature in itself as oppose to something that we try to hide behind magnets, art etc, etc…like the old radiator.

Unisex children's room design using bold colours.

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The end.

…and that brings us to the end of this chapter in our story. We look forward to the next stage in the room’s transformation.

If any of you do deside to make this cabin bed or recreate anything that you’ve seen in this blog post I’d love for you to tag me or mention it in the comments so that I can see the results.

Unisex children's room design using bold colours.

This is perhaps the most fun we’ve had in any of the rooms that we’ve decorated. Kid’s rooms can be so freeing, there are no rules so just enjoy it.

*The yellow radiator was gifted by who are no longer trading. I was under no obligation to include them in this blog post*

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