I went through a furniture refinishing phase a few years ago after stumbling over some amazing deals in a local used furniture shop: a mahogany Queen Anne chair (painted black and upholstered in cheap grey vinyl), a burled oak low boy (minus a few knobs), and a number of side chairs and tables – each for $50 or less. One of my best finds was an antique walnut bed. Unfortunately, the rails were missing and the hardware was so old that finding replacements to match was nearly impossible. I made do by nailing the headboard and footboard together with a couple of cheap pine 2x4s, then fitted the bed with a traditional mattress and box spring set. The whole bed wobbled and squeaked at the slightest provocation. But I still loved it.
When I moved back to Staunton last fall, I left all my large items behind in Richmond – including my mattress set. There was no love lost on my part, as it had been handed down to me by my mother (my parents had purchased it for their bedroom nearly 50 years earlier). And while the mattress was still in excellent shape, there was a little more history there then I care to think about. Still, its absence left me with a much-loved, wobbly antique bed frame and no mattress.
So, as my inaugural home project of 2012, I chose to reclaim my bed. And due to current finances – and personal preferences – I opted against the traditional mattress route. Instead, I chose the platform and futon option because 1) it’s substantially cheaper, 2) it’s ultra-firm, which makes my back very happy, and 3) it can be easily disassembled and moved in my Honda. And being mobile makes ME very happy. It took me weeks to commit to this project, but only a couple of hours to complete. I assure you that it really is as easy as it looks.
Please note that having a dedicated work space is not mandatory. I prefer to work where I am and deal with the mess later.
The base couldn’t be easier to assemble. I bought six 6′ lengths of pine, since that’s the length of a normal bed. This meant I only had to cut the two end pieces down to the width of the bed, which I did with one pass of the circular saw. Then I just screwed the four lengths to the end pieces, and viola! The base is complete.
2. Nail on the support pieces.
I looked at several platform bed designs online and found a number of options for support materials. Unfortunately, nearly all options were either too expensive, or too large to fit in my car (my CRV is a great little car, but it doesn’t have much in the way of cargo space). It wasn’t until I got to Lowe’s that I found the perfect solution – construction grade 1×3 boards for about $1 a piece. I only needed 12, so the price was definitely right. I spread them out evenly along the length of the bed and just nailed them in place, making sure they were all flush with one side of the bed.
3. Trim off the excess
The final step was definitely the simplest. I had planned to use my circular saw but realized too late that it wouldn’t fit between the slats. My next thought was to use a hand saw, which would have worked well as the construction grade wood is incredibly soft. While looking for my hand saw, I found an old electric jigsaw that I bought years ago for crafting projects. And wouldn’t you know it worked like a charm! I just ran it along the side of the bed and the slat ends just popped right off.
And there you go. One refurbished antique walnut bed. And the cost? $50 for head/foot boards, $58 for wood, $2 for screws, $125 for new futon mattress. Grand total: $235. Seriously – could you really find better for less?
And I guess there’s one more step:
4. Clean up.
This is not my forte. I like making messes, not cleaning them up. But I have promised myself to clean and reorganize next weekend. More pictures to follow!