Then We Made a Bed

The Coronavirus Home Improvement Chronicles – Part 2

When we moved into our house in Fort Wayne, my husband convinced me that our new, ridiculously oversized bedroom needed a king-sized bed. I didn’t have a job, our foreclosure purchase was a disgusting mess, and we had a toddler to care for, but somehow I decided that a new bed would make it all worth it. We could move our old bed into the fourth bedroom, which would serve as our guest room for the five years we lived there, and we would get a new king-sized bed for the master bedroom.

The only problem was that the mattress and box springs were the only things we could scrape the money together to buy. So for a couple months, our mattress sat on top of those box springs which sat directly on the new carpet that we had installed shortly after we moved in. We finally spent around $40 to buy a metal frame to get the mattresses off of the floor, but an actual bed frame with headboard was a pipe dream. Whenever we got creative we would look at plans for building our own bed, but we didn’t have the tools, the time, or the energy to do it.

Every year was going to be the year and we would end the year with a bed still sitting on the same metal frame. This year we promised that our Christmas gift to each other would be the bed, but we got back from our Christmas vacation and we weren’t ready to start. We had work, kids had sports, and I just couldn’t think of one more project I wanted to add to our weekends.

Enter coronavirus.

Once we got our new lights/ceiling fans installed, we realized that we really had a lot more time stuck at home to get things done. So we pulled up the cut list for the bed frame that Jeff had found online and I went to the home improvement store, again, to get the lumber that we needed for the frame and for the headboard that I planned to make once the frame was finished.

We cut all of the pieces to size, Jeff “aged” them with nails, and then I set out to stain the sides and ends, as well as the feet. Since we were using three different types of wood (white wood, pine, and cedar), each wood took to the stain differently, which gave the platform the aged look that we were going for. Over the course of the next couple days, I put three coats of polyurethane on each of the boards. Then we took them all upstairs so we could put the bed together in our room.

Jeff used a pocket jig to put pocket holes into the ends of the boards so we could avoid screws on the outside. We made the outside frame with the stained 2×6 boards. Then we screwed additional 2x4s one inch from the top of the frame, as well as a 2×4 in the middle of the frame, to serve as supports for the 1×2 whitewood slats that would hold up our mattress. We screwed the 4×4 posts underneath to elevate our bed just a little before we started installing the 20 1×2 slats, the two of us managing a rhythm of measuring with the cut 2×4, drilling pilot holes, and driving in the nails. It was a late night (and we were afraid we would keep our son awake) but we were finally able to go to sleep on our new and very solid bed frame. I was more than happy to permanently ditch the bed skirt and the box springs.

The next day I spent most of the day (let’s hear it for weekends and everything being closed) staining and brushing polyurethane on 4 and 6-inch thick cedar boards, using two different stain colors, the darker of which was also on the bed frame. I cut one of the 6-in wide boards in half to make the headboard 4-feet high and cut the top board to 80-inches so that it would span the entire width of the bed. I made a frame with the three boards, screwed them together, and then split the headboard into four sections, using the leftover white wood (which was 20 inches in length) as a brace so I could attach the cut pieces of cedar wood to create a mixed pattern with two differently sized boards and two colors.

Once the headboard was pieced together, we had to attach it to the wall. Jeff stepped in to create braces with leftover 2×4 pieces and after a couple tries, we were able to hook the headboard onto the wall, adding an additional block of leftover 2×4 at the bottom of the headboard to keep it steady against the wall.

It was so good to sleep just a little closer to the ground on a solid bed with a pretty headboard behind it. A 10-year dream had finally come true.

And as a bonus? We used the leftover 20-inch pieces of white wood to make a box for our travel shot glasses. I painted the new shelving unit white and we placed it behind the bar.

Both projects gave us satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, it also gave us a desire to make an even bigger mess by starting two much more complicated projects.

You can find the original directions for the bed here.

The first installment of the home improvement chronicles can be found here.