Designing and building a new bed for the new house | Sept. 2015
On September first this year my friends and I moved into a new house. I could've just kept my old bed of course, but every time we move into a new house I develop some idea of what the room needs to look like, and I never feel comfortable until my space has some semblance of my grand vision. This particular glimpse into what I felt it needed to look like had lights, a USB charger, stairs, and of course a height that sacrificed just about all function for form. The difficult parts here were my money and time budgets: a total of $0.00 and about 3 days.
My sister Sophie has two mattresses and a box spring on her bed, and when I got to use her room on a visit back home I loved the height. There was something about the isolation of being up high that felt very appealing. When the floor is a little further away and getting out of bed takes a little more effort, I felt a strange and relaxing disconnection from the rest of the room. Beyond that it's difficult to explain even to myself, but all I knew is I needed a really tall bed.
Anyone over six feet tall who has lived in a college dorm can attest to the fact that being two feet away from the ceiling is miserable. Though a loft sounds like it would fit the height criteria described earlier, there was something awful about having to climb up into a bed. I wanted to be able to jump in to it, or at least walk via a staircase. I decided on a final height of about four feet which is awful for just about every reason except that it felt right. The engineer in me eventually acquiesced to the inefficiency of 'too tall to climb into, too short to be under,' and I decided to just go for it.
The Three Rs
For the frame I reused the base of my old bed frame, bolting two sides into the wall with 5/6" lag bolts. I recycled a 4x4" old fence post found in a dumpster covered in mud and stains (top right picture) but after sanding and painting it turned out pretty nice. The other top pictures show the slats secured with joists about a foot apart, with an extra 8" left for the headboard. It was rock solid, and i̶t̶ ̶f̶e̶l̶t̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶ it was part of the frame of the house.
The Four Stairs
I used pre-made stringers from Home Depot for the stairs, secured to the wall with a single lag bolt and supported additionally by two legs made from scrap wood. By lining them up and making both sides at the same time, (middle-left) I didn't have to be too precise to get them level and identical. The actual steps were repurposed from the sides of the old bed. In the end they took me about a half hour to make and around $18.
I built a headboard using the remaining scraps of my old bed and put the LED strips from it behind a piece of white fabric. The fabric diffused the lights well enough to create an ambient glow that resembled a giant TV screen. I used a 12v power supply from an old router to power the LEDs and an old car charger to use as a phone charger at night. To turn it on and off I 3D printed a little switch holder that you can see in the bottom left picture.
The lights aren't the kind of soft white lights you'd like to have on before going to bed, but I eventually plan on using them for the mornings. As soon as one of my arduinos isn't being used I'm going to hook them up so that they turn on with my alarm. Here in Minnesota it's dark on winter mornings until well after I need to be up, so hopefully this will mimic natural light well enough to help me get out of bed.
About $30 | 7-8 hours over 4 days | "full" sized mattress | 48" Tall