A couple of years ago I found myself in the position of having to find somewhere to live at short notice, my budget was pretty tight so I reluctantly decided to rent a studio apartment (bedsit if you live in the UK) in a converted three story town house, it really isn't that bad to be fair, I'm on the outskirts of town in a one of the older parts of a new town so the house is about fifty or sixty years old, anyone who lives in the UK will know that his means rather than the paper thin walls, tiny rooms and postage stamp sized windows so much of our modern affordable housing has this place has good sturdy brick internal walls and the room itself was formerly a good sized double bedroom, in addition to this the separating wall to what used to be the upstairs bathroom was taken out adding an extra few feet to the overall length, the contractors who did the work made a really decent job of it so all the plumbing and electrics are good and my main outside wall is almost entirely windows from about three feet up so I get plenty of natural light, whilst it isn't what anyone would call palatial it's not exactly a dark dingy little hovel either.
Thanks to the solid construction there isn't really any sound bleed from the other rooms and as my landlord has a strict vetting policy I have neighbours who are all pretty decent people, in fact if anything I'm the wildcard in the bunch who comes home in the wee small hours of the morning from parties, we look out for each others mail and deliveries when people are away from home, the house is in a cul-de-sac so there isn't any noise from passing traffic and I was even lucky enough to rent a garage a few yards from the house where I have set up my workbench so all in all I'm fairly happy to stay here for the time being until I can afford to find somewhere better.
From the outset I decided I wasn't going to live in a bedroom, I did all that when I was a student and in my first bedsit some thirty four years ago when I left home, I suffer from a balance disorder which means I can often be housebound for days at a time. on occasion it is so bad I can't even go down to check my mail (I'm on the top floor) and the idea of spending my time in a bedroom was a complete non starter I also wanted visitors to feel comfortable and in a smallish room with a bed in it I find it is hard for people to relax, initially I settled for a good quality sofa bed, it has a decent mattress which is not designed only for occasional use but I have found it to be a pain in the neck to keep getting out at night and as I tend to be a bit of a night owl it is also a bit too noisy to trundle out in the early hours so a few weeks ago I decided it was time for something a bit better.
In that first bedsit I had a fantastic German built wall fold bed, it was given to me by an old friend and changed that room overnight, suddenly I not only had much more space but with the addition of a large shelf above, a cleverly arranged matchstick blind and a sofa on castors it was no longer a bedroom, I decided that it was time to build something that would do the same to the home I have today so it was time to have a good look at my available materials and get building.
Step 1: Getting Started and Buying Parts.
Anyone who has seen my previous 'ibles will know I am committed to recycling and reusing, over three decades I have built dozens of household and garden projects from reused and salvaged materials many of which have involved the use of timber from household furniture old doors and even a table topped with fifty or sixty year old floorboards..
Being a long time member and volunteer moderator of Freegle I often see old pine bunk beds offered some in great condition some shall we say... less so, a few months ago I picked up a set that was otherwise destined for landfill as there were several parts missing and broken for my son who had plans to build a double raised bed, the plan was later put on hold and they sat in my garage waiting to be used along with the remains of a single pine bed frame, they had already been disassembled to make storage easier so I had a wealth of available timber on my doorstep and as my sons project will only need a few bits of all this timber I had more than enough to start designing my new bed.
As is my habit when building with salvaged materials I decided to make this project for the minimum cash outlay, partly because this in some ways a proof of concept project that may well be replaced later with something else and partly because I'm working on a limited budget for most things these days anyway also I'm not too fussy about it looking pretty so long as it does the job, this meant that buying the heavy duty hinges I originally had my eye on were not going to happen nor was the counterweight to make lowering and lifting the bed into position although with the benefit of hindsight that was probably a bit over engineered anyway so it was no great loss,
As it's unlikely any two beds would be built the same way owing to differing circumstances and access to materials rather than telling you what you will need to replicate this build I'll tell you what I used.
Please be careful when using power tools or for that matter any tools at all, making holes in your body will result in bleeding (if it doesn't I suggest you contact your doctor ASAP) blood will almost certainly spoil your timber so for the sake of your project bleeding is to be avoided at all costs, if you are unsure what you are doing ask someone to help, if that someone happens to have a fully equipped workshop so much the better.
Wear eye protection, blindness can make it difficult to cut straight and use pretty much any tool, it will of course also hamper your ability to step back and admire your work.
Bed base. This was already more or less ready built aside from having
their foot and head boards removed, I had two single bunk bases in decent condition which came from a good quality bunk set so there was little point in altering them, I picked the one with the fewest dings and marks and disassembled the other to use the timber for other parts.
Six side rails from other bases.
Four short 2" x 2" bed legs.
One long 2" x 2" bunk bed leg.
Various screws, dowels and fixings salvaged from the dismantled beds.
Some left over sash cord.
Three 2" brackets previously used for a shelving unit.
Two 3" heavy duty screw hooks left over from a kids garden adventure set I built a few years ago.
Two 3" coach screws. These came from my local Wilkinsons (Wilko) they sell pin 'n' mix bags of bolts screws and nails for £2.00 ($2.65) so these probably cost about 30p (40c) for the pair.
Two heavy duty eye screws. Amazon £2.50 ($3.30)
Four 4" frame fixings also from Wilkinsons for £2.00 ($2.65).
Total material cost £4.80 ($5.55).
Saw. I did the whole project with a hardpoint crosscut saw, there is no joinery involved so all I needed was something that cuts straight and square.
Large Posidrive screwdriver bit.
Small Posidrive screwdriver bit.
1/8" allen (hex) key.
Step 2: Wall Mount.
The wall mount had to be fairly solid as it needs to hold the whole weight of the bed when it is folded up and keep it held solidly to the wall when in use, I estimate the bed itself weighs around 60lb and I am 180lb so it needs to hold around 240lb without worrying about it coming away from the wall with potentially disastrous results in the middle of the night.
As the rail holding it against the wall is several inches longer than a bed and all I had were rails of bed length I had to join two sections of timber at the middle, three 3" x 1/2" dowels salvaged some time ago from a two part kitchen dresser were used to join the two sections, these were then rebated into the tops of legs made from bunk legs to give added vertical support and the whole affair was fixed to the wall at four points with heavy duty frame fixings, I'm pretty confident it isn't going to move any time soon.
It is mounted above the sofa bed so if I choose to I can still have a nice big bed now & then.
The two heavy duty eye screws were set a couple of inches from the top ready for the bed to be mounted, I now had to wait a couple of days for my son to be available to help me hang the bed.
Step 3: Adding Depth to and Hanging the Bed Base.
The bed base was originally designed with a second rail attached to the frame meaning it was only a couple of inches deep as I wasn't confident that this would support a mattress properly when the bed was folded against the wall I decided to add a few inches of depth so I added a second rail four inches higher, I also used sections from two side rails to replace the missing foot & head boards giving me an 8" deep frame with a 6" deep box for the mattress to lay in.
Lacking the facilities to make the brass bushes I would like to have I made some up out of polypipe with a rubber core through which I set the coach screws (after one really annoying misplacement) these fit into the eye screws and act as the pivot point for the bed to fold up, I have a friend at my local pub who will be bought a couple of pints of a nice ale to make me some decent bushes when I can corner him.
The first of these bushes was set onto the bed and with my sons assistance the base was lifted into place I then set the second through the eye screw and tightened it down, with this done the bed was now able to easily be raised and lowered into place, a couple of heavy duty screw hooks in the wall and a few inches of sash cord an it can be secured into place in a few seconds.
Step 4: Legs, Headboard, Bedside Table and Plans for Alterations.
Some time ago I used a set of bed head & foot boards to add simple arms to the sofa, My meds occasionally make me tired so I often lay on the sofa to take a nap and it can be a pain to have cushions falling off the end all the time, they are pretty solidly fixed so rather than lose them and come up with a way to fit long legs under the bed frame when it is out I simply made short sections at the back and foot end with dowel fixings to add a bit of height to them the head end is supported by an added long leg that fits into a dowel socket under the frame, these support the bed when it is down, being fixed to the wall and held between supports at each end the bed cannot move horizontally so they provide vertical support perfectly well,
I read in bed pretty much every night and a bed with no head board isn't the most comfortable way to do this so a headboard isn't an option it is a necessity, now obviously a fixed one would be a bit of a problem with a bed that folds up against the wall so I had at first planned to make something that would fold up & down on the base, the problem with this is I would have to have a way to stop it falling down at night, I came up with a couple of solutions but none of them satisfied my need to have something that I could be confident in when leaning my 180lb frame against it so in the end I chose to simply alter one of the headboards left over from the bunks and saddle mount it over the end rail of the base frame, it isn't pretty but it is simple it works perfectly and this way I can use it on either end of the bed, when everything is put away I just put it in the bed or behind the sofa.
I also like to take a drink to bed and I use my mobile phone as an alarm so I needed somewhere within easy reach for these, I didn't really want to use the heavy timber the rest of the bed is built from so for this I pressed the top of an old unit I had in my garage into service, a couple of brackets fitted to the side to hook under the top rail and a couple of blocks underneath to support it against the lower rail and I now have a nice solid bedside table.
The whole thing can be lowered and ready to use in less than ninety seconds and put away in a similar time, it is also all but silent in operation (as long as I don't drop it) so I don't have to worry about waking up my downstairs neighbour on those nights when I am up into the early hours.
All I have left to do is sand down a few areas that are a bit knocked about and varnish the sawn ends but that can wait until I find a suitable antique pine varnish. I'm also going to cover the underside of the base in canvas or calico, much nicer to look at than the bed slats and it will allow the mattress to breath.
For now I'm using a futon mattress as the one I had planned to use was damaged, it is so much more comfortable than the sofa bed for the first time in a very long while I am reluctant to get out of bed in the mornings.
Eventually I hope to replace this single bed with a double, this will obviously require a much stronger mount so I'll be looking again at the heavy hinges I originally wanted, when the time comes I'll need to have these made to order as it will be easier to get exactly what I need and probably cheaper in the long run, I'm considering using old scaffold boards for the frame of the base so I can get a really rustic ancient look.
All in all I'm quite pleased with my new bed, I've been using it for about a week now, it is nice and solid with no wobbles or creaks and I sleep very well in it not too shabby for a bed that started out as a load of timber headed for the dump and less than £5.00 spent on materials.
I hope someone out there finds my 'ible helpful I'd love to see if anyone makes something similar and of course I'd be happy to hear any suggestions.
Step 5: Update. Last Few Touches.
I've been using the bed for a while now and I have to say it really has made a huge difference.
I had to add a couple of things some purely for convenience sake one for safety.
Sitting in bed reading has been made very much easier with the addition of a light that mounts on the headboard, I simply cut a keyhole slot in the bottom being careful to avoid any electrical parts of course and it fits onto a screw in the back of the headboard, during the day it serves as a reading light for the sofa.
I wanted a long shelf above the bed but couldn't find anything suitably long, eventually I solved the problem with six sturdy slats from another bed butt jointed with steel pins for support at the middle, I had planned to mount it with gallows brackets but that would have meant setting the shelf too high so instead I used traditional pressed steel brackets fixed to timber extension pieces to spread the weight better.
While I was sorting the shelf out I also came across some old LED Christmas lights, I decided to mount them under the shelf to provide some subdued lighting, they are operated with a switch mounted under the shelf which in turn is connected to a double socket that is on top of the shelf on the right side.
Another little addition was a caddy that fits to the side of the bed, I occasionally drop off to sleep watching TV and kept finding the remote controls had fallen to the floor in the night, I don't like putting them on the table as a couple of times in the dark I almost put my drink on them, in this they are easy to get to and out of harms way.
A simple set of steps was added after a few weeks to make it easier for me to get in & out, I suffer from a balance disorder which can make this difficult at times and although I had not yet had any significant problems I knew it was only a matter of time so they were really a necessary addition.
Finally the calico to cover the bed base was fitted a couple of weeks ago, it finishes the whole thing of very nicely, the bed no longer looks like a big wooden eyesore but actually blends in quite well with the rest of the décor, this was simply stapled all around the edge and, I then added a rope trim held in place with hot glue, I used polyhemp rope for this, its the first time I've used this rope and I have to say I was really impressed with it, appearance wise it is almost impossible to tell it from natural hemp but it cost around half as much, if you haven't tried it I urge you to do so I doubt you will be disappointed.
All this of course has added a little to the cost of the bed, the lights and switches I already had in my collection of "just in case" materials so they were cos free, the calico cost around £5.00 but I still have around a third of it left and have a project in mind for it so I guess it would be safe to add say £3.35 for that.
The Polyhemp rope was just over £6.00 but I only used half of it so add another £3.00 for that.
This brings the cost up to £11.15 or $14.50 USD at todays exchange rate.
I think it is safe to say at that price this is a bargain of a bed.