For the last year or so, I’ve been on the lookout for a “big kid” bed for my daughter, knowing she’d probably outgrow her toddler bed somewhere between age four and five.
Throughout my research, the Ikea Kura bed has been at the top of my list as the bed to get.
If you’re not familiar with the Kura bed from Ikea, it’s a reversible bed that you can use as a “normal” bed or a low bunk bed, and it has a solid pine frame and far more wood than MDF (the panels are made of fiberboard with acrylic paint and paper foil).
DISCLOSURE: This isn’t a sponsored post, but Naturepedic did provide a mattress to us for free previously, upon my request so I could add more information to my organic kids mattress article. Since we already had a Naturepedic 2-in-1 mattress, we decided to use it in our Kura bed. Everything else we bought ourselves.
The Kura is infinitely “hackable,” and I spent a fair amount of time dreaming up different ways we could configure the bed in the small space that is my daughter’s room.
Right around 4.5 years old, about 6 months before Kindergarten, my kiddo started complaining about the toddler bed. According to her, she could now reach the end of the bed, and it was getting too small.
I knew it was time to bring the Ikea Kura bed into our lives.
Kindergarten Girls Room Re-Do with the Ikea Kura Bed: Our Priorities
We had a few priorities in re-doing our daughter’s room to give her a bigger bed, and made most of our choices around these priorities:
- Our daughter’s room is very small, so we needed to reclaim some floor space by opting for a loft bed that could accommodate storage and play space underneath. We used Ikea Trofast and Eket for storage along with the Kura bed.
- Even though we needed a loft for sleeping, we still wanted a fairly low bed, one that is much lower than a typical bunk bed. The Ikea Kura was perfect for this.
- We needed to be sure our daughter was comfortable getting up and down off the bunk at night time, by herself, if we were asleep. If she couldn’t do it, we needed to be able to construct a work around (my original idea was to use Trofast steps, but we found the ladder plus a step stool actually worked fine).
- We wanted to be able to use an organic and non toxic kids mattress in the bed, not a foam mattress, while still having adequate safety railings around the mattress. We had a Naturepedic 2-in-1, which Naturepedic had previously sent us to be included in our organic kids mattress article, so we used that and added additional safety railings.
- It had to look awesome and fun for my daughter. I wanted her to love her room!
- It needed to fit well in her room, with added storage, while still leaving room to play. We did the majority of this right before Christmas, knowing we were about to add a whole bunch of board games and other toys to our house which we’d need storage for.
With all that in mind, we got to work on reconfiguring her room with a Kura bed.
Ikea Kura Mattress Options (Loft Bed Configuration)
By choosing the Ikea Kura, I knew finding the right twin mattress for the Kura would be a big part of the equation.
We were committed to finding a non toxic and organic mattress that worked with the Kura. That means we immediately ruled out some of the popular mattresses for Kura, like the Lucid 5″ mattress, because of my safety worries related to foam, VOCs, fire retardant chemicals, and also fiberglass in mattresses.
According to Ikea, the best mattress for the Kura bed is only 5″ thick at most. This is because the safety rail around the edges of the bunk bed frame aren’t all that high, so the mattress needs to be relatively low profile to allow an adequately high safety railing.
Unfortunately, some of the best non toxic twin mattresses on the market are deeper than Ikea’s 5″ recommendation:
- Naturepedic 2-in-1: The normal twin size mattress is 7″ tall, and the twin trundle is still 6″ tall – more than Ikea recommends. We used the normal twin (7″), not the trundle version.
- Naturepedic Verse: The Verse is 9″ tall, and Naturepedic doesn’t make a lower profile trundle version of this mattress. I think this mattress is a hard no with the Kura bed.
- Avocado Eco Organic Kids Mattress: This is Avocado’s low profile non toxic mattress for a bunk bed frame or trundle. Like the Naturepedic 2-in-1, it’s 7″ tall.
- Happsy Mattress: The Happsy (which my husband and I sleep on) is 10″ tall, plus an optional mattress topper. Also a no.
- The Plush Beds Healthy Child Organic Latex Mattress: This is only 6″ tall according to the manufacturer, which is the lowest-profile one I looked at. But, it’s still an inch higher than Ikea’s recommendation of 5″.
Because our daughter had slept on a Naturepedic crib mattress, and because we had experienced first-hand the utility of Naturepedic’s waterproof surface during middle of the night barfs, the Naturepedic 2-in-1 was our first choice.
We also already had the normal twin mattress size from Naturepedic from a previous article. (I asked Naturepedic to send me one to include in my article about organic kids mattresses, and they obliged).
We decided to throw caution to the wind. We figured we might as well make good use of the mattress we had, and hack the Kura guardrails to fit it.
Hacking Ikea Kura to Use a Normal Twin Mattress (Organic + Non Toxic!)
We setup the Kura over the course of a weekend afternoon, and let our daughter know she wouldn’t be able to sleep in it right away, as we needed some time to plan out the safety requirements and figure out how we’d hack the bed.
In the mean time, we put her Naturepedic crib mattress under the Kura bed, perpendicular to the frame. It worked awesome.
This was intended to be a cozy nook to sleep in for a few days, but so far we’ve kept it as she makes the transition to her new bed. Most days she wants to sleep up top, but some nights she still sleeps underneath.
This could also possibly work as a Montessori floor bed for younger children, until they’re ready to move into the top bunk bed. However, you’d have to adapt our set up for safety.
I combed the Internet for Ikea kura bed hacks, finding this great version on Ikea Hackers. After about an hour in a hardware store checking out lumber, and then back the next day with some adjusted measurements, we got to work building an updated safety railing around the Kura bed, so it could work with a normal twin mattress.
We used primed solid pine board and had it cut to size at Home Depot. The “posts” were 17″ tall each, and we cut 4 for the long side with the opening, and 3 for each end. Because our Kura is against a wall, and because we plan to attach it to the wall, we opted not to create a new guardrail for the wall side. If your bed isn’t attached to the wall, you need a safety guard on that side of the bed too.
We then used the same primed pine wood to go across the “posts” as the railing.
We screwed the guardrail pieces together using 1″ wood screws, and screwed them into the pine bed frame using 2 x 1.25″ wood screws.
Then we lifted the Naturepedic 2-in-1 back into the bed, and crossed our fingers it would meet safety guidelines.
With this configuration, there’s about 10.75″ inches between the top of the Naturepedic mattress and the top of the railing. This is compared to just about 5″ prior to adding the additional safety railing, which wasn’t enough for us.
Our Kura Bed Hack for Storage
One of our big motivators in switching our daughter from her toddler bed to a loft bed was reclaiming some floor space for storage and playing.
She has an extremely small room, so anything we can do to get some extra storage and extra space is well worth the effort. Given that we’re not in our forever home and kids change what they need so quickly, we also didn’t want to spend a ton of money solving our storage issues.
We decided to repurpose some Ikea furniture we already had, first putting some Trofast under Kura on either end of the bed, with a fun reading nook or play corner in between.
However, the Trofasts don’t fit perfectly under the bed. They are a bit too wide to sit perfectly in between Kura’s bottom frame, so one end needs to sit up on the lower frame. This, however, leaves them lopsided, and the other side needs to be propped up.
Because I also have curtains on order from Etsy (I ordered these curtains, and they are in transit currently), I needed one end of the Trofasts to be right up against the wall, sitting on the Kura’s lower frame, but also level and stable. To ensure each Trofast was stable, and wasn’t going to tip, we built a little frame under each, using 1.5″ lumber.
I organized her toys to put things we was more likely to work on by herself in the Trofast drawers under the Kura bed: puzzles, coloring, puppets and figurines, her baby, an old LiteBrite, and her “treasure” box, for example.
Then I added an area rug, throw pillows, and string lights, and – voila – a space ready for cozy times playing at home!
As noted above, I also ordered some curtains from Etsy, as fun additional way to use the under the bed floor space – as a theatre or for playing shop/restaurant/market, etc. These haven’t arrived yet, but I’ll update the post when they get here as they are in transit currently.
Stairs vs Ladder
I originally envisioned using another stepped Trofast unit that we already had to create stairs leading up to the top bunk.
However, when my husband saw the amount of carpentry required, he nixed that vision.
We put an Ikea step stool at the bottom of the ladder, and tested out the ladder/stool system with my daughter. We felt confident she would be able to manage it by herself. And since she sleeps with a fairly bright nightlight on, she wouldn’t be navigating it in the dark.
I definitely had a few sleepless nights the first few nights she slept in the top bunk with the ladder, but so far, so good.
We bought our Kura bed used off of Facebook marketplace for $50, which is a great price, but it was in slightly rough shape.
To cover up the original blue color on the panels, I ordered some floral decals from Etsy (which my daughter chose). I’m extremely happy with how they turn out, and this seller also uses a Greenguard certified printer for the decals, which I appreciate.
I also ordered the aforementioned curtains from Etsy which I’m still waiting for.
There’s still a lot more styling to do, but time and budget demands we do this over time.
I’d love a Ruggable for the carpeted section near the storage. We have one in our living room, and I find it extremely convenient for life with older kids, to replace the play mat you might use with younger kids.
I also need to replace the bedding at some point – the sheets my daughter is using currently are from my childhood bed, dug out of my mom’s closet. I have my eyes on these purple organic sheets from Natemia at the moment, but haven’t ordered yet.
Not to sound like a broken record, but storage was key for us, since the room is so small.
I decided to hang 3M hooks from the end of the bed, from which my daughter could hang her purses, jewellery, etc.
I also plan to add some under the bed, to hang fairly lights a bit easier. This is a “to be done” project.
I fit Eket units between the end panels of the bed and the wall, attaching them to the wall to grow upwards. These are awesome for storing puzzles and boardgames, of which we have a lot. We are in a big board game phase in our house right now, so this cupboard gets accessed daily.
More Ikea Trofast
We initially kept the two stepped Trofast units we already had, and put them against the opposite wall of the room.
However, I didn’t love this solution, because it takes away a fair amount of floor space and took up the entire wall.
When we were at Ikea looking for something else, we realized you can also buy Trofast that are tall, wider and not as deep. They use the same bins, so we sold our stepped Trofast and replaced them with a wall of shallower storage which reclaimed about 7″ of floor space depth wise, as well as taking up less of the wall. These are securely attached against the wall, FYI.
I’m thrilled with how our Kura hacks have turned out so far, and the room in general. It’s a work in progress, so I expect I’ll be making small adjustments and updates over the coming months to make it more functional as we discover additional needs.