I hacked a Mydal Bunk Bed and turned it into a Tree House / Beach Hut / Indoor Playhouse kind of thing.
Photographs below show the progress from a standard Mydal frame (did not use the original ladder), into the playhouse with additional pine planks bought from ACE, which matched the finish of the IKEA Mydal exactly – so I could have even left it natural and untreated.
Trying to remember roughly the additional timber I used:
8 no 38mm x 38mm x 2.4m long timber for posts
about 20 no. 75mm wide x 8mm thick x 2.4m long planks for cladding
about 5 no. 125mm wide x 8mm thick x 2.4 long planks for cladding (you can have all the same width – I wanted to have some variance)
1 no 240mm wide x 18mm thick x 1.6m long plank for steps
1 no 160mm wide x 18mm thick x 2.4m long plank for side support to steps
left over side protection and ladder pieces from the original bed.
Note these are approximate and can vary due to different opening sizes or spacing between planks.
I did not clad the sides against the walls only the two visible sides.
I think I used a total of about 8 litres of paint/stain to paint everything inside and out. So if you will alternate between say 4 colors I suggest 2 litres of each.
Lessons learned for hacking the MYDAL Indoor Playhouse:
I am not a carpenter (obviously) and only own a drill, a saw and some screws. But I did make use of the rotary angle cutter that the carpenters working in the flat had. The structure took about 2 full days, painting took another 2-3. I am guessing it would have taken about 2 days longer without the angle cutter.
Although the timber is sawn, it needs some sanding and especially on the edges, also giving the edges of steps and openings is really neat and prevents little fingers (heads?!) getting hurt. Invest in a rotary sanding attachment for your drill. It will make sanding and chamfering a breeze.
Drill a hole smaller than your screw on the posts and cladding planks before screwing them on. This will help prevent cracking and splintering.
I think the ladder turned out great but I had to fix the pieces with quite large and many screws to secure the steps as the just kept creaking and flexing. It still creaks a little when an adult puts full weight on it but it is coping fine. If I were too do it again I might consider notching the runners and inset the step assembly or use some metal angles to join runners and steps.
If you want a really neat finish remove the planks before painting each one and screw them back on. I tried to paint even the gaps between the planks which made everything look a bit sloppy – kind of the point of the whole thing actually.
You may notice the whole structure sits almost on the floor. Original Mydal is raised about 10-15cm. I wanted to cut the legs and lower it, partly because I thought it would look too high, partly to prevent dirt and also toys and stuff rolling underneath but mainly because I wanted to lower the level top bunk and reduce the distance our 3 year old would travel in case he tumbled down the steps!
Rookie mistake, somehow managed to cut too much and took away a couple of predrilled screw holes for the bottom bunk. So I had to drill new ones on the post which also reduced the space between the top and bottom beds. My suggestion is leave the legs alone, if you want to lower the bottom to the floor, drill new lower holes on the legs – don’t cut them. This will also increase the top/bottom space – which you will appreciate if your little one still needs nappy changing.
Another space saver advice, if you will keep the original spacing do not get a spring mattress (240mm thick) it is too wobbly and difficult to move around with your head tucked under the bunk. Actually don’t get a spring mattress even for the upper bunk because it sits too high from the top step and those mattresses sag quite a bit at the edge causing the little ones to slip and slide.
Definitely leave openings on the roof like I did. Kids want to stand up and move around. It also makes for a nice vantage point or a crows nest for pretend pirate ship. Fully clad roof will restrict them.
Make sure you drill some robust screws and quite a bit of them to fix the ladder rungs. After four screws on each side ours still creaks a bit when adults get on.
Leave the opening at one end like I did. By dumb luck, I did it without realizing that would end up to be my only option to get the top mattress in without pulling the entire frame away from the wall. It also helps making the bed and changing sheets much easier.
Remember this is a project which you need little measurement or accuracy. Misalignment of the ends of planks make it look even rustic as you can see on the last unpainted photo. I had leftover wood and wanted it to look a bit more tidy so I covered all ends with a cross member. I used some of the pieces of the original bed for horizontal cross members – the ones with holes in them in the photos. I even used the original ladder rungs side by side. Wood is quite forgiving so don’t worry about drilling a hole or screwing something to the wrong spot. It will barely get noticed.
It is a good 2-3 day job for a complete novice, but it is really fun to build and very rewarding to see how much our son enjoys it.
That’s all I can think of, good luck for those who will attempt.