Wednesday, January 6, 2010

$100 + Home Depot = four poster bed

Ok, this project isn't exactly shoestring - BUT it cost considerably less than if I would have bought a king size four poster bed. It's actually my Christmas present :) It's not completely finished either, but I'm so excited about it I couldn't help myself from sharing.

I've been wanting to make a four poster bed for a few years, ever since I read this library book of one of those inventive TV-designers who do things on a dime (don't remember the name of the designer, the TV-show nor the book at the moment, but it's out there somewhere, I promise). She made a four poster bed for someone using turned porch posts which turned out sooo great! I believe the cost for the bed she made was about $400, seems about right after checking the lumber prices at Home Depot. Now, I knew that that kind of money for a bed (not a necessary item since we already had the mattress and frame) was not going to be in our budget anytime soon, but I was itching to do something to our bedroom since it looked so bland. So I came up with an alternative plan. The 4x4 post poster bed!

Do you guys know that they sell 4x4 posts 8 feet long for only $7 each? That's the stuff they use to make fences with. They're not fancy but you get a big sturdy post for almost nothing.
So I got four posts and had the dude at Home Depot cut them down a bit for me (they say only two cuts are free but he didn't charge me for the other two cuts - thanks HD :)). To make this look less mountain lodge-y and more garden chic I also got 4 post finials for about $4 each as well as some pre-assembled  molding thingy that's meant to go at the bottom of your posts for a more finished look  but I was going to put it at the top instead (I'll show you the pics in a bit so you know what I mean). Oh, and I also had to get washers and bolts and that stuff.

I have to confess this project wasn't very well thought through so I had to pay for it in time, money and pulled out hair (frustration will make you bald if you have too much of it). I thought our bed frame would be strong enough to hold the posts up but those posts are h-e-a-v-y and of course our frame is discount store "quality". So after realizing the posts were flipping all over the place after I attached them to the frame I had to go back to HD for something to hold the posts steady. Got some $2 2x4 studs and had another dude (they have a lot of them there) cut them to size for me. Since I didn't want the bed to get ugly-fied by some support stuff I decided to attach them with heavy duty brackets. With some paint on there they'll barely be noticed.

This is how I ended up attaching the studs. It's actually pretty sturdy (however, I will in the future buy two more brackets to support the foot board stud because we sit/hop/crawl over it quite a bit, just to be on the safe side). All the studs are also not going to be visible at all when I've made our bed linens and added a bed skirt etc. It was important that the post weren't going to have something attached to them on the outside since they will be visible. If I had thought this project through before starting I might have come up with a better and more aesthetic way of attaching the supports, but this is the cheapest and best I could come up with in a hurry.

Here's how I attached the posts to the original bed frame with bolts. I ended up attaching the foot board stud to the posts just below the top of the mattress while the head board stud was placed slightly higher than the top of the mattress, to keep our pillows from sliding off the bed. The side rails were placed as low as I could without interfering with the bed frame which ended up being about even with the top of the box springs. By the way, I pre-drilled every single hole since these pressure treated posts are rock hard.

Before I give any wide angle shots of the bed and our bedroom I will warn you that the illusion you may have had of our pavilion are about to be shattered. As well as my pride. Remember that the pavilion is a work in progress and the bedrooms have barely been touched at all since we moved in, let me just say that they look the part. I also didn't even clean up very much since I had to sneak pics quickly while the babes were asleep. Ok, after due warning - here we go.

The four poster in action! And yes, our window coverings consist of beach towels at the moment. Instead of spending money on stuff I don't like I prefer to stick with the no-cost alternative until I can get the stuff I really want. Hence the beach towels (and you'll see a blanket in another shot). But I made the bed at least :)

I actually do like the way the bed came out although it's nothing like my original idea. It still looks a little mountain lodge-y because of the lack of paint (you're not supposed to paint pressure treated wood for at least a few months or it'll blister and flake is what I've heard). But when the bed is painted black I think it'll be a lot more garden chic than mountain lodge. And that'll go well with my plans for a garden trellis window treatment which I'm sure you'll hear more about in the future.

The finial and molding part up close. The finial is screwed into the post with the screw it came with, the molding is just glued on with wood glue, I might add a few finishing nails for good measure before I paint.

A picture with the flash for a clearer view.


Our kitty Soapy is admiring the height of the posts. They are pretty high. I had them cut to 80 inches but with the finials they must be over 7 feet tall. It's pretty cool. 

Yep, there's the blanket I mentioned earlier..

And the last shot of the "foot board" from the side with my Indian "shrine" in the background.
So the bed is not exactly as nicely turned and all like I first imagined it but I actually like it. When it's been painted black and the walls have their pale grayish purple up and all my hot pink/red/orange accent fabrics are all in place I think it'll look very nice. It'll take a while before it's all done, though. It's very pretty in my head at least :)

For a while I thought about maybe adding tightly wound rope around the posts for more texture. I'm sure it would have been cool but in the end I passed on it. It would have taken more time and added some to the price as well. The wood for this bed only cost about $36, but the brackets and other hardware as well as the decorative finials and molding added about another $50 so it wasn't quite as cheap as I would have wanted it to be.
You can also add wooden appliques to the posts if you are so inclined, to dress it up a bit. I opted to keep it simple since I figured that with all the stuff that will be going on in this room when it's all said and done less might be more for the bed. And also add a masculine note for my poor husband :) (He is ok with my plans for the room, by the way :)).
I almost forgot to tell you that it wasn't even all that hard to put this together since the construction is so simple. It took me a day to get it all done and that's even with my extra trip to Home Depot. You will need some hunky guy to help you move mattress and box springs aside and maybe help you hold some heavy or long parts while you attach brackets and bolts. I mainly used my hunk to help me keep the kids out of harms way (as well as the simple tasks I mentioned above :)).

The bed will have to sit and look woodsy and boring for a few months before I do the finishing paint job on it. In my experience these pressure treated posts seem to get surface cracks as they dry so I might have to fill those in with wood putty and do some sanding before painting. But that will have to be a future project :)

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  1. Wow, that is AMAZING! I would *never* think to try something like this myself, even WITH a hunk! Thanks for such a great post, and well, the kick in the pants that I needed!

  2. Hi, I have been haveing thoughts of doing just what you did, but did they not have regular 4x4's without the pressure treated finish?? My brother in law worked in a hardware-Lumber place and when they got the pressure treated stuff in, They also got warnings to put out to tell people that it is very dangerest. Please I don't want to rain on your project, but it is something that concerns me. Keep your hands washed after handeling the wood, and don't let the little ones touch it. But I think you did a wonderful job and when it is done I know it will be very pretty. Have a great day, Gerry from Maine.

  3. Gerry,

    They may have had some untreated 4x4's hidden away somewhere but I couldn't find any at the time. Thanks for your concern and I know the treated kind isn't the greatest for indoor projects. It's been almost 2 years now and none of us have gotten ill or died yet. I do plan on painting the bed in the near future to seal in whatever harmful chemicals may be still lingering. Thanks for commenting! :)

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  6. I like it a lot. Started looking into making this.

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I really appreciate you taking the time to comment because I know you didn't have to. Additional ideas or related techniques are always welcome, the more we brainstorm the better all of our end products will be.
While I try to answer all comments I sometimes don't make it or have your contact info. If you don't hear back from me it doesn't mean I hate you, I just ran out of time (or simply had no way of contacting you).
I wish you a great day!

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