In our previous Brooklyn lives, we lived in an apartment that was just a wee bit over 500 square feet. We didn’t have much storage. Or, to be more accurate, we didn’t have a single closet in the entire place. Seriously. No closets. All we had were 3 wall-mounted cabinets in the kitchen and a little under-the-sink storage. It’s pretty amazing what can pass as an apartment in NYC.
We had to get a little creative without storage solutions, so one of the first purchases we made after moving in was the IKEA Sultan Alsarp:
The slatted base lifts up to give a whole lot of storage space underneath. Smart! We also loved the fact that the bed is slip-covered. The white fabric you see on the base is actually velcroed on. We loved how we could just slip it right off and wash it whenever we felt like it. ….until we actually washed it and it shrank and fell apart.
Reading instructions: we suck at it.
Al’s skirt didn’t last through one wash cycle. We raised our gnarled fists to the sky and cursed IKEA, but still loved the bed. So we marched on down to our local IKEA and asked where we could find slipcovers for old Al. And that’s when FAIL #2 happened: Al doesn’t have replacement slipcovers.
One slipcover comes with the bed, and that’s the only slipcover you can have. For the rest. of. your. life. There was much gnashing of teeth and wrenching of fists, and in the end we vowed never to shop at IKEA again. (That didn’t last long.) But, because we hadn’t been pooped on enough yet, FAIL #3 happened a few days later:
Under Al’s slipcovered skirt is a foam padding. We were planning on DIYing a slipcover to go over it, but someone decided to shred the padding instead:
The foam padding had been chewed on, clawed at and torn off. And the evidence of little bits of yellow foam found in his whiskers both proved his guilt and the dog’s innocence. After that incident, our plans to sew a slipcover got tossed out the window.
We were going to reveneer the entire bed and make it super fancy, but when we took a close look at the bed, we discovered that it was literally coming apart at the joints. Another FAIL. We’ve lost count of our FAILs at this point.
Morale has been kinda low ’round these parts. With the crappy weather and the never-ending cabinet project, we’ve been moving pretty slowly. So, to stir things up a bit, we did a freestyle project. One that involved no planning, no over-thinking, and — best of all — no money. We woke up on Saturday and decided we had one day to build our bed with whatever we could find. It took us 2 hours.
We started by gathering materials.
We salvaged the slatted frame from our IKEA bed. It’s in perfect condition and made from a very durable steel. We also found these five blocks of wood in our garage:
Those are leftover pieces from a big oak beam. The big ones are 9″ cubes and the smaller one in the center is about 4″ across. They’ve been stained and sitting around for a long time, and we thought they would be perfect legs for our new bed.
Those are the only 2 elements of our super modern / minimalist bed: the slatted frame and the beam legs. Plus a few screws to hold it all together. Really. That’s it.
With our materials ready to go, we set up our table saw with a dado blade:
The kerf of a standard blade is 1/8″. Kerf is, oddly enough, not a word that Bradley made up to mess with my head. (I had to take it to The Googles.) It means the width of the saw cut. With a dado blade, you can change the kerf to whatever you need. Our saw has a maximum kerf of 3/4″, so that’s what we set it to. Here’s some kerfing in action:
The stink-face is an absolute mandatory when using a table saw.
Basically, using a dado blade lets you take out strips instead of fine lines.
In no time, our blocks had matching grooves:
Next step: sanding. This is what the blocks looked like after a quick run with a belt sander:
Ignore the nosy dog in the background.
Our initial plan was to stain or paint the blocks. But covering up this gorgeous wood felt wrong:
We loved the distressed look. How some parts have a blackened pattern and others are completely bare. We decided to roll with it and see how the bed looked with naked legs. If we hated how it turned out, we could always paint them later.
The assembly took about 15 minutes. First, we put the legs in place:
The four big blocks are the legs, and the small block in the middle is support for the middle of the bed. We ran out of felt furniture pads, so we improvised with some extra rug pads we had lying around:
We cut those into 8″ squares and slipped them under the legs that sit on on wood floors. That way they won’t scratch up the paint. After that, we plopped the frame right on top:
And, finally, we screwed the frame to the legs to hold everything together:
We don’t want the screw head sticking up at all, but we didn’t have a countersink bit with us. We had to improvise. Bradley drilled his pilot hole with a small drill bit. Then he used a much bigger drill bit to make a countersink.
The trick is to gently drill away a layer without going all the way through the hole. That way you end up with a cone-shaped hole for the screw to sit in:
See how the hole is wider at the top and smaller at the bottom? That’s how you get a screw to sit flush against a surface instead of sitting on top of the surface:
Bradley put 2 long screws into each leg. We picked up the bed and moved it across to room to make sure it was sturdy, and it was. So we vacuumed the rug, moved the bed back and dropped the mattress on top. Here’s what our bed looks like now:
You can’t see the frame at all from a normal vantage point, so the bed looks like it’s floating on beams. From underneath, you can see the slatted frame:
We’re on the hunt for deep teal bedding right now. With the right duvet, the frame shouldn’t be visible at all. And we’re hoping the natural wood legs will really pop against a bold color. Check out that streaked wood:
We love the way those legs look against the jute rug.
Our next big task is to make bedside tables. Right now, we’re using some trays to keep our lamps and bedside messes contained.
We picked up those lamps at Target a few weeks ago. We wanted something simple and neutral enough to work in any room. That way we can move these to the living room later if we want. We’re just starting to get a feel for the kind of textures and colors we want in this room, so we might get some other lamps for this space down the line. Right now, we’re digging ‘em.
We’re also digging the white dresser in the funky angled corner:
We’re not sure if we ever shared after pictures of that sucker in use. So far, the paint hasn’t chipped a bit even with daily use. The secret is all in the polyurethane — two to three coats, sand in between!
There you have it. We made a bed in 2 hours. It felt so good to sleep in a “real” bed last night. Just having the mattress up off the floor really helps make the room look more finished. Our guest bedroom is finally starting to come together. We still need to:
- Get some new bedding.
- Build a couple of night stands.
- Do a quickie IKEA-hack console table.
- Hang some art.
- Get some color in there, pronto. Love neutrals and all, but this room is pretty boh-ring without color.
We’ll be back soon with updates on the never-ending cabinet and a couple of other small projects. Stay tuned!