SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Small and Simple DIY Pet Beds | Family Economics

By Cathe Holden


Earlier this year my family adopted a rescue puppy named Charlotte. We expected, based on her apparent breed, she would grow to the size of our current, full-gown Labrador Retriever. As it turns out, she is a much smaller breed and hasn’t grown at all. Having a small dog is very new to our family and it’s been interesting to learn the quirks of owning one. For example, in Charlotte’s case, she likes to sleep tucked away on an elevated platform. In the beginning, while she was still adjusting to her new home, I configured chairs and blankets to allow her to nap next to me when I worked on the computer. While certainly not a permanent arrangement, it was a quick and easy set-up when needed. See photo below. 

Charlotte on her chair bed

Most recently, I moved my work to a craft studio in our remodeled barn. I wanted to give Charlotte her own, special place to stay when visiting, keeping her in one spot and off of the sofa. My solution was crafted within minutes using a large, vintage bakery box, a standard-size bed pillow, and a vintage cotton feed sack. I simply turned the box on its side, covered the pillow with the feed sack (folded over at the end) and then tucked the pillow inside the box. To avoid scuffing my laminate floors, I added self-stick furniture pads to the bottom of the box at each corner. The nice thing about this particular dog bed is the pillow can also be placed atop the turned box, to create an elevated resting spot.

Below is a photo of Charlotte in her special pet bed tucked beneath a table in my studio. 

Charlotte in her special pet bed

This easy, do-it-yourself, pet bed can quickly be made from an array of inexpensive and easily accessible items.

Here are a few suggestions for a bed base:

  • The bottom half of a vintage suitcase or trunk with lid intact (use hardware to secure in open position) or with upper half removed.
  • A wooden beverage or fruit crate, or any other large, wooden box. If the box is quite deep, it can be turned on its side like the one I used above.
  • The drawer of an old dresser.
  • Occasional furniture pieces, such as an end table or piano bench, turned upside down.

Note: Avoid using vintage painted items for pet beds as older pieces often contain lead paint and can be harmful to pets that may chew on them.

Tip: You can elevate your pet bed base with wooden legs or locking casters purchased at a hardware store, or repurposed from a discarded piece of furniture. Elevate only to a height your pet can safely jump or climb up and back down from by itself.

Suggestions for pet bed bedding:

  • A standard bed pillow. Trim the fabric and remove some of the fill to fit the bed base accordingly, if necessary
  • Scrap foam rubber cut to fit, or re-use a mattress egg-crate pad, layered and trimmed to size
  • An old, fluffy comforter layered and cut to fit

Bedding slipcovers or covers

  • Pillow case
  • Cotton or burlap feed, seed or grain bag
  • Large, knit sweater
  • A thin, small rug
  • A bath or beach towel
  • Soft fabric
  • Repurposed textiles such as a vintage tablecloth, curtains or bedspread, even a favorite old flannel shirt

What ideas or tips do you have when making a small pet bed? Please share them!

Photos courtesy of Cathe Holden.

3 Comments so far

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On Thursday, June 6, 2013, Gloria from Virginia wrote

Charlotte is adorable!

On Thursday, June 6, 2013, Donna, green house supply wrote

So cute! Wouldn't my cats be in heaven if I made one for them!

On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, Suzy from PA wrote

My small dogs like pillow-type beds, so I make the winter cover out of warm snuggly fabrics like mohair or fleece and, for the summer months, I use cotton or linen. I always add a simple zipper to make stuffing it simple and then I fill it with old towels, tee shirts, whatever I have available to a level that makes it just cushy enough. They love to dig and ruche around, so having the movable type stuffing rather than an insert is "green" and economical.


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