What do you do when your bed gets saggy and you need a new mattress? You shop for a new one, buy it, and have it delivered. If you’re feeling fancy, maybe you even buy a new bedframe to spruce up your bedroom. But us? Nooooo … that would be way too easy. We’d rather find the hardest, most time-consuming DIY solution.
Checkers is a big dude, but not quite big enough to make the troughs that are visible in our bed.
For the past year or more we’ve been grumbling about sleeping in the two troughs of our not-that-old mattress. “Does anyone sleep in the middle?” a salesman asked. “Because the padding will shift to the middle if no one sleeps there.” Well, hell no, no one sleeps in the middle! What’s the point of having a king-size bed if someone sleeps in the middle? You might as well have a full-size bed! The other person would be clinging to the edge! Personally, I like my space … plus, we share the bed with four of our cats, so we sleep where we can fit. But, back to our story …
Eric and I finally decided it was time to test mattresses. We fell in love with the first one we lay on: a firm TempurPedic. Yes, we tested others, but always came back to “the one.” We wanted to buy it right away, but where would we put it? We liked the idea of a platform bed instead of a traditional box spring. So we started looking around. We searched online. We hit all the stores. We thought underbed storage drawers would be a great idea, but that severely limited our options. The few nice ones that we found were so expensive. Then the solution came to us. Of course! Eric could simply MAKE a platform bed! How hard could it be?
We wanted something that would look timeless … at home with our antiques, yet able to transition to a modern house in the future. We found a design at IKEA that we both liked, with simple, straight lines that reminded me of my parent’s 1940s bed.
Now … what kind of wood? Off to the lumber yard. We looked at birch. We’d seen a gorgeous Asian design in birch, and I fell in love with some sleek, natural birch dressers with glass tops at IKEA.
Why not go with something totally new and different? You know how long it’s been since I changed up my bedroom furniture? Never! But then what would I do with my antiques? A modern birch set would stick out like aliens in our house. Common sense prevailed. We looked at walnut. And then we saw the African mahogany. Sounds exotic, doesn’t it? I’m not sure if it’s exotic, exactly, but it sure as heck is expensive!
So Eric began translating the bed in our heads into reality. Naturally, he took advantage of this tool-buying opportunity to buy the planer that he’s been talking about for as long as I’ve known him. “I have no choice,” was how he put it. Oh, well, okay … if you have no choice!
He began spending inordinate amounts of time downstairs in the shop/dungeon, but I didn’t hear any power tools running. What could he be doing down there? You know the old advice about measuring twice and cutting once? I think Eric was measuring 37 times but was still reluctant to cut that expensive mahogany.
Weeks passed. Eric insisted he was making progress, but I had still not seen so much as a footboard. (To be fair, his shop is cramped and he can’t keep all his machines set up at once. And it takes a lot of time to glue and assemble a king-size bed. And to measure 37 times. Not to mention, we have day jobs.)
We returned to the mattress store and reaffirmed our commitment to the mattress. But, they were no longer throwing in the absurdly high-priced matching pillows for free. Here’s the thing: We didn’t want to buy the mattress before we were ready to set it up. I didn’t want the memory-foam monster lurking in the library, nor did I want us to have to muscle it into the bedroom by ourselves, or deal with getting rid of our old set. All elements would have to come together at once. Planets had to align. The dance had to be choreographed.
A salesperson called us when the pillows became part of the deal again. A special offer would be in effect for several weeks, but we had to buy by April 19th. Time was running out. How in the world would we finish the bed frame—which not only needed to be built, but also stained and finished, a process that can’t be rushed? I was stressin’.
Eric said the footboard would be ready for me to stain by Saturday (Saturday passed)… okay, maybe Thursday (Thursday came and went) … or surely the next Saturday. So I grabbed a wood scrap and started testing stain colors. We knew the mahogany wouldn’t match the walnut mom and pop dressers, but we wanted the color to blend. I tried dark walnut stain … and, oh, crap … the color had potential, but the mahogany’s open grain sucked up so much stain in places that it looked as if the wood had been charred with a blow torch. This isn’t 1972 … and that’s not the look I was going for.
Apparently, you can’t just slap some stain on raw mahogany, so we read up on the process. It goes something like this: 1. Sand. 2. Stain. 3. Sand. 4. Fill the grain. 5. Sand. 6. Apply sealer. 7. Sand. 8. Apply more sealer. 9. Sand. 10. Apply more sealer. I quit stressing and started freaking out.
We went back to the mattress store, thinking we would order our bed, get the pillows, and delay delivery for a few weeks to give us a chance to finish the bed. It was then that we learned that the pillows are only offered if we bought a set. We didn’t want the foundation … only the mattress. No pillows for us! Demoralized, we drove home, figuring we might as well put off buying the mattress until the frame was ready. Whenever that would be.
So let’s recap: We had no mattress, no free pillows, no bedframe (yet), and disastrous stain results. Oh—and the price of the mattress had gone up $300 while we dilly-dallied about when to buy. Will we ever pull out of this DIY tailspin? Are we doomed to be swallowed by our old bed? Should we turn the shop/dungeon into a chemistry lab and invent our own memory foam?To be continued …