Meg Makes: Assembling our DIY storage bed, and the pros and cons of having one
Rob and I started seriously thinking about building a storage bed in May and by June, Rob was making good progress on the project.
We set aside this weekend to assemble it, and let me tell you - it is grand. Wonderful. Completely transformational.
Rob started by assessing our needs (drawers on one side, cubbies on the other to make the most of our space) and drawing some sketches.
He used two-by-fours to make a frame, with a center support running down the right third of the bed. (This allowed the drawers on the left side to be exceptionally deep, if that makes sense.) This design wastes no space in the middle, unlike some bed plans we found online.
Rob used truss connector plates to connect some of the two-by-fours that made up the bed's frame. He said this saved him time by not having to screw each piece together.
He set the frame on top of two sheets of plywood and used wood screws to attach them. He made sure to countersink the screws so they wouldn't scratch our floor.
Once the frame was assembled, Rob added the cubbies and drawers he made in advance. He used screws to put in the cubbies and high quality, soft-closing drawer slides to attach the drawers. Each slide can support 100 pounds, which is good, because the drawers are enormous.
Rob was planning on adding a built-in bedside table with a cubbie underneath to contain the dog's bed. (Milou has never met a small, dark space he doesn't love, especially if it's storming outside.)
However, the dog spent so much time inside the bed while we were constructing it that Rob decided to dedicate one of the cubbies underneath for Milou's bed. Milou loves it.
Once the cubbies and drawers were installed, Rob added more plywood to the top. He used lauan plywood because you can see some of the wood surface even with the mattress on top of it. It looks really nice.
Rob also bought maple plywood and used it to face both sides of the bed to hide the bed's frame. He also made drawer faces out of maple and used two cup pulls for handles. He added a footboard, as well, again to hide the frame. It also has a lip to keep the mattress from sliding off the end of the bed.
Rob finished up by adding a chair rail moulding around the bottom and will add a shorter trim at the top. That isn't done yet.
Rob also added a divider to one drawer for me, and will soon put dividers in the other one, as well. He'll probably also add at least one shelf each to the two cubbies that aren't intended for the dog's use, and is still planning on putting in a bedside table for himself.
Let's talk about the pros and cons about putting in a storage bed.
The pros: The storage is amazing. The drawers are so big that my clothes that have been collecting dust for years under our bed fit in one drawer, and that drawer still has room for more.
I will probably use the other drawer to store winter clothes or blankets or maybe even extra sheets for easy retrieval. We're a lot more vertical space, and while the bed is large, it doesn't seem to make our bedroom feel smaller.
Also, the bed is so tall that I don't have to bend over at all to put on clean sheets or to fold laundry on top of it. The base is 26 inches tall, and the mattress on top brings it to about 30 inches. We're no longer using a box spring.
However, the tall factor might also be considered a con. I think I'll get used to the bed's height - I've been thinking of it as half-lofted, without a need for a ladder - but it is a bit of an adjustment. I've been using the pet steps to help me get into it, and Rob's also talked of building a step stool. My feet literally dangle when I'm sitting on its edge.
We had to move the cleats on our fireplace headboard to raise it, as well. We will also have to figure out a way to raise my barn light sconce so I can stop hitting my head on it, already.
Milou has been able to get up and down using his pet stairs, but Rob and I are both nervous that he'll try to jump all the way off the bed and hurt his already-troublesome back. For now, we're supervising him carefully when he's on the bed.
Also, it wasn't terribly expensive, but it wasn't cheap, either. I'd guess we spent about $400 on the bed. It could be done for less if you decided to use pressboard or MDF instead of hardwood plywood, but we wanted the bed to last forever and decided to use higher-quality materials. We still saved a lot of money compared to retail prices for such beds.
For the most part, having a storage bed is even better than I expected, and I couldn't be happier with it.