Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home Sweet Home: My Biggest Project Yet

I've been terrible about updating, but at least it's because I've been engrossed in a giant project. Really, really big. So, what have I been doing?

Building bunk beds! Heavy duty, super cute, made from plain ol' pine. After seeing a friend's link to Ana White's Knock-Off Wood blog on Facebook, I became literally obsessed with the idea of building. Ana posts free plans to build your own designer-inspired home furnishings from readily-accessible lumber. Easy to understand, easy to build with the proper basic tools. I'm not new to power tools, but neither do I use them everyday, so I was a little intimidated by the size of this project. But I'm no sissy... so after making sure I wouldn't upset my better half, I got to work.

I should preface this by noting that we had been on the market for bunk beds for our girls for several months. After buying and returning some very "average" bunking beds from Art Van Furniture (*shudder*... not a good experience) and nearly buying a metal not-unbunkable bunk bed from Ikea (wasn't in stock or we would have bought it), I decided to go the DIY route. It has taken lots of time, about $175 for materials, and lots of energy. But the beds are sturdy, lovely and repeatable, so in 10 years when we have 28 children, they can all have matching beds (I'm kidding! I don't think they'd all want to match).

We wanted beds that could come apart to use as separate non-bunked beds at some point, and the plans for the Land of Nod-inspired Simple Bed, with some modifications to adapt it into a bunk bed, were perfect. Off to the lumber yard...

Turns out untreated pine 4x4s are hard to find, so we adapted by using 2 2x4s. Not the exact dimensions, but the adaptations were easy to make, and about $50 cheaper than buying cedar 4x4s that would be painted anyway. The buy list and cut list made it so easy to get what was needed and cut it down to size quickly, and all the pieces were built over 1 weekend. 4 side rails, 2 headboards, 2 footboards, 2 guard rails, and 1 ladder. I used an entire bottle of wood glue.

Then there was the pre-painting prep... sanding, filling holes, sanding, filling more holes, sanding, caulking, de-dusting and priming. That took longer than building the thing! I haven't painted furniture in at least 5 years, and it's amazing how the paint aisles have changed. Oil paints have largely been replaced with more human- and environmentally-friendly water-based products, and I'm hoping they're just as durable. At least it was easy to clean up and not terribly stinky. And no turpentine! I opted for Behr's Clear Moon shade of white, and I was very pleased with both coverage and application.

I called in the big guns (aka my very strong husband) for the actual assembly. There was no humanly way to do that alone. And (lucky for us) we work well together. I was also "assisted" by the little guns... he was very excited about the beds even though he wouldn't be sleeping in them. We assembled the top and bottom separately, then stacked, added the guard rails (which I made about 5" longer than the directions for simplicity and practicality), and came to terms with the fact that the ladder (built as directed) was, in fact, 8 inches too short.

I debated whether or not to build a whole new ladder, but (since I am lazy when possible), the big guns and I agreed that a simple step (made from the leftover bits of 2x6s from the siderails) added on to the bottom would suffice. It was quick and relatively painless. We already had one bunking board, but we covered and stapled the bottom side with a white thrift store sheet to look better from the bottom bunk. I made a second one from the wood frame of an old boxspring that was lingering in our garage, also fully covered in a used white sheet. Here is the final result:

Now that it's done and assembled and in use, I am truly pleased with the results. There are a few little issues with it which no one but me will ever know about unless I point them out (so I won't), but even I can look at it as a whole and appreciate it without getting nit picky. It was a labor of love, and I fear that I will soon forget the unpleasantness (aka the finishing process) and dive headfirst into more building projects. Ah well... C'est la vie :) Thanks again to Ana at Knock-Off Wood for sharing her talents with the rest of us!


Reenie said...

Eeeeekkkk!!! I am SOOOO impressed and so jealous :) Just gotta finish my own cabinet door project (that never ends) and I'm definitely building some stuff. It looks sooo great Karen, I am so impressed. So so so. You are my hero (and so is Ana and her beautiful site).

Emily said...

i am very very VERY impressed. cannot wait to see the opening of the Karen Homemade Furniture store :)

Rita said...

Hi, the bed looks fabulous! I'm working on these now and just finished the headboards and footboards. Looks like you did not use the 4x4 posts, are those 2x4s? Did you screw them in straight from the outside or at an angle from the inside? I'm so intimidated by my 4x4 boards!

JOdi said...

Wonderful job!

JessiHarri said...

Wow! They are soooo beautiful. I love love love the white. It is so bright and clean. I cannot wait to build these and I am glad to see you can do it with 2x4 and not 4x4s. Thank you for sharing. I just need my boys to grow a little before I trust them with such a structure!

Karen said...

Yes, I used 2 2x4s... I used 9 screws to hold them together to replace each 4x4 section. Since they are 1/2 inch thinner than a 4x4, you will have to adjust for that in the overhang. I only wanted a 1" overhang on each side of each headbroad and footboard (so it could be placed closer to the wall), so I trimmed them accordingly. We toenailed the siderails and used metal L brackets for extra stability.

So far, no one has dived off it :) The bigger kid (age 5.5) is on top, and I'm wishing I had made another set of 2 guardrails for the bottom bunk, and I may add them in the forseeable future.

Betsy said...

WOW WOW WOW!!!! I absolutely love your bunkbed. The white looks absolutely gorgeous...and they would match our kiddo's bedroom. Why oh why do we have to live so far apart; it really puts a crimp in my plans to steal them from you. ;) Thanks so much for sharing the photos and link!

Alexis said...

you are outrageous. you shame us all. OUTRAGEOUS!

Erin M. said...

They look wonderful. Congrats on making it happen.

Lyssa said...

You made making this bunk bed look really easy!
I am in the process of beginning to make the same one from Ana's site. It seems like you are the only one who has tackled it!
I had a few questions though. Mainly about the ladder. what would you recommend doing? making the ladder taller to teh 67" height and just figure out a better angle to cut it at? But if not, how tall is your little step at the base of the ladder?
It seriously turned out awesome. Any help or advise would be awesome. I am hoping to tackle this very soon before mky husband starts his new job at the beginning of August.
you can email me:
Thanks again!