My wife and I have spent our entire adult lives sleeping on a mattress and box springs on the floor of our homes. Now that we've finally settled into our forever home, and our old mattress had given us enough back pain to warrant its dismissal from the home, we decided it was time to upgrade to something permanent and perfectly suited for our life.
She handed me a hand drawn sketch and explained all of the features she wanted it to have:
- Queen size dimensions
- Raised platform for ideal sleeping height
- Drawers for storage beneath the bed
- A bookcase headboard for even more storage
- On-demand nightstands to set phones 'and snacks down
- A cozy sleeping area for our pets
- The perfect foam mattress to support back and side-sleeping
- Budget: $750
It was nearly impossible to find a quality manufactured store-bought bed with even half of these features for less than $750, not including the mattress, which would be at least $800 for anything of the quality we were looking for. So the only way to do this would be the DIY route for both sides, bed AND mattress.
In this Instructable, I'll detail the process for how I designed and built a bed to meet all of the requirements and budget, without compromising quality. Enjoy!
Queen Size Bed
- 3/4" Plywood: 6 Sheets (4'x8') Link
- 2x3 Lumber: 2 Boards (8') Link
- 8 Drawer Slides (18") Link
- 12 Angle Brackets (3 Packages) Link
- 8 Drawer Pulls - Recycled
10" Foam Mattress:
Available online at foambymail.com
- 5" Base Foam (LUX-HQ)
- 3" Cooling Gel Foam
- 2" Latex Foam
- 10" Cotton Mattress Cover
- Circular Saw
- Speed Square
- Spirit Level
- Wood Glue
Step 1: Design
Step 2: Video Tutorial
I documented the entire build process for this bed in a YouTube video. I hope this helps if you're a visual learner like me. Otherwise read on, I'll do my best to get the process down in writing.
Step 3: Cut the Wood
Starting off you will need to cut the plywood and lumber according to the cut list in the Sketchup design. Do your best to pick out straight sheets and make each cut as square as possible. I found it helpful to label each cut and organize them into piles, as you will have a lot of pieces by the time you're done cutting.
- Top and Bottom Platforms
- Internal Braces
- Cut half-lap notches (two notches in each board) to make the pieces slide together
- Drawer pieces
- Cubby End Pieces
- Support boards (2x3)
- Headboard pieces (1x10)
Step 4: Assemble Drawers
I chose to assemble the drawers simply, using wood glue and construction screws. If you have the time and skill, you can make these drawers really nice with either pocket holes or dovetail joinery.
I There are 6 drawers to assemble: 2 shorter drawers that will be installed at the head of the bed on either side, and 4 tall drawers that will be installed on either side of the bed, using the cross braces of the bed frame as the "cabinet" to install drawer slides onto.
Step 5: Assemble Bed Frame
I used some straight metal brackets I had lying around to tie the two halves of the bottom platform together. This makes up the base of the bed, so ensure that the position in the room is correct now, as the bed will be too heavy to move and adjust once it's all assembled.
Assemble the cross-brace structure on top of the base. The half lap joints will make turn these braces into a grid pattern on the base. For now, just position this grid where you want it to sit on the base, and position the head and foot brace pieces on either side of the structure, with the head brace lining up flush with the head of the base.
Screw the 2x3 support boards between each end of the brace structure. This will rigidly hold the whole structure together, including the head and foot pieces. At this point it will still be independent from the base platform. Install the 12 angle brackets on the inside, opposite corners of the grid, and on the inside corners of the head and foot braces. This will help to add more rigidity, and minimize any inconsistencies in the angles of the grid from warping wood uneven cuts.
Assemble the cubby side pieces with wood glue and screws, ensuring the orientation of the notched piece is such that the 2x3 brace board can span the foot of the bed. Screw the cubby end pieces to the foot brace piece, ensuring the end of the cubby boards are flush with the foot of the base platform. Screw the 2x3 foot board into the notches of the cubby side pieces. We found a long lawn furniture cushion with the perfect dimensions to fit in the cubby and serve as a pet bed.
Secure the top platform pieces to the top of the bed with nails or screws. I opted to do near the last step to allow easier assembly of the rest of the bed.
Step 6: Assemble Headboard
Assemble the headboard with screws or nails. I started by screwing together the outer boards, and then spaced the inner shelves based on the dimensions of the things we planned to put in those shelves. I attached the 1/8" panels with brad nails and then opted to cut holes on the lowest shelf to accommodate power strips coming through for chargers and lights.
Screw the head brace of the bed to the headboard after positioning everything exactly where you want it. Once it's all put together, it will be very difficult to move again. Once the headboard is attached, you can put a few angle brackets between the base platform and the brace structure to make sure it's all held together.
Step 7: Install Drawer Slides, Drawers, and Nightstands
The spaces made by the cross-brace grid structure serve as the "cabinet" for the drawers. Install the drawer slides in these spaces according to the package instructions. I bought the cheapest slides I could find with a reasonable weight capacity, so it was as simple as getting the slides level and screwing them to the bed after getting the position correct.
Fasten the other half of the drawer slides to the drawers according to the package directions. Install the drawers and check for smooth and even sliding. It may take a couple tries to get them right, but the slides are made with multiple screw holes for multiple tries at attaching them. Once the drawers are installed, you can install the drawer face pieces on the front of the drawers to cover up any unevenness or inconsistency in each drawer.
Once the face pieces are installed you can install the slide-out nightstand platforms using another set of drawer slides. I installed them flush with the top of the bed, making sure the slides were level. I also cut and fastened a small face piece below the platform to cover the gap between the drawer and the platform.
Step 8: Sand, Stain, or Paint
You can add any designs or finish techniques you want . I chose to paint the bed white and leave the rough edges and imperfections as they were. I just happen to like that look, as it distinguishes it from a factory-built piece of furniture and gives things a rustic, homemade appearance I really like. Plus it saves a lot of time!
Install the drawer pulls onto each drawer by marking and drilling holes corresponding to each pull, then fastening the pull to the drawer with the provided bolts. For the nightstand platform, there isn't a way to fasten the pulls with a bolt, so I drilled shallow holes just slightly smaller than the outer thread diameter of the pulls. I then put some wood glue into those holes, and hammered the pulls into the holes so that the threads are fit into the platform. Once the glue dried, the pulls are held very securely.
At this point, the bed is done! Read on if you want to learn how to piece together your own mattress for much cheaper than buying a similar quality mattress.
Step 9: DIY Mattress
I did a lot of research on what makes a great foam mattress. There is a lot to learn about the material science of the foam, the densities, cooling techniques, and composition of a mattress that can be changed to accommodate any kind of sleeper. I knew we needed something firm and supportive for our sore backs, but also comfortable for side sleeping and sufficient cooling. That narrowed things down to something ridiculous and expensive, like one of those high quality bed-in-a-box products that come in the mail with a 30-day trial and easy payments that work out to a couple thousand dollars!
However I found a site that allows you to order individual foam layers of different dimensions to completely tailor your own mattress. I'm sure there a few sites like this, but I went with FoamByMail.com. They have DIY instructions of their own linked HERE.
I ordered a high quality base foam layer of 5", a 2" top latex foam layer, and a 10" mattress cover. I already owned a 3" soft gel foam mattress topper, so that went in the middle of the base and latex layer for a total of 10" of high quality foam mattress perfectly suited to our needs. All-in this mattress cost about $400, which pales in comparison to the thousand or so a Tempurpedic would have cost us. It's the most comfortable thing I've ever slept on, and I don't wake up achy and sore anymore! And our pets love it, they get to stay close to us (but off the bed) and feel safe in their cubby, and they find the cushion to be really comfortable themselves.
That's going to do it for this project. We were able to meet all of our requirements and stay within our budget, so it was a win! I hope it inspires and helps you to build your own bed! Please feel free to ask questions or call out my mistakes as you see them so I can improve as well. Thank you!
Second Prize in the