I HATE DIY!!! (part 2)

A way forward

So what ever happened to the bed project, you ask. Oh, that. Yes … well, believe it or not, it’s still being worked. (I know you believe it because by now you know how glacially slow we are at finishing our projects.) When I left off, we had just learned that we didn’t qualify for the free TempurPedic pillows because we wanted to buy only the mattress, not the foundation piece. Eric was struggling to gain traction constructing the mahogany bed frame, and my stain test results were a big disappointment.

bad stain

When we returned home after deciding not to order our mattress, I was seriously bummed. Sure, we could wait to buy it until Eric finished the bed frame, but I really, really wanted a new bed. Now, not months from now. I considered our options. Should we bite the bullet and buy the set (foundation and mattress) and bag the idea of a platform bed? We could simply bolt the headboard to the frame whenever Eric had it ready. But what about the footboard, which was almost done? He had worked so hard on it, and had spent a bundle on the expensive mahogany. It would be a shame not to build the whole bed frame as we’d planned. But our plan just wasn’t coming together. Do other people agonize so over buying a freakin’ bed?? (Well, maybe …  a king-sized TempurPedic probably costs more than my first car!)

Then Eric brought the finished footboard upstairs. Wow—his craftsmanship, as usual, was outstanding. No way was it becoming firewood! Somehow, though, I would have to find a way to give it the finish it deserved … and I was worried about that. My angst continued.

The unstained footboard is hanging out in the library where it’s safe from marauding cats. It’s 30 inches tall.


footboard detail

Finally, we made a decision: We’d buy the @#$% foundation piece, get the free pillows, and set up the bed. Then we’d finish the bedframe at our own pace … and in the meantime, we’d have an awesome bed. What’s a few more hundred bucks?? Sheesh …

We felt liberated just having made a decision. The next day (the last day of the free pillow offer), we returned to the store to shell out the cash. But first, we stopped at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, to learn about staining mahogany. I brought my ugly stain sample. The salesman was wonderfully patient and demonstrated several products and techniques that would increase the uniformity of the stain. Counter-intuitively, the first step is a coat of shellac (Zinsser Seal Coat) to seal the pores! Then the Minwax stain, then a couple of coats of General Finishes Enduro-Var urethane sealer. And inevitably, lots of sanding in between. I breathed a sigh of relief. I couldn’t wait to test the new method.

shellac, stain, varnish

Out on the deck, I set up a little production line with five mahogany scraps that had a variety of graining. First, I coated the scraps with shellac.

5 mahogany boards

shellac coat

I had three different colors of stain at my disposal, but I started with the darkest, Minwax Dark Walnut, because I knew the shellac undercoat would prevent the stain from soaking in too much. I painted a strip of stain down the right side of each board, then rubbed it off. If I wanted to try another color, I had plenty of room.

mahogany boards with walnut stain

Dark walnut seemed like the right color. I needed the depth of color if the bed was to blend with my mom-and-pop dressers. I applied another coat to deepen it a bit, then, satisfied, I stained the rest of the boards.

Two coats of satin urethane topped them off. Beautiful! A photo won’t show it, but when I turn the wood from side to side, the dark and light stripes reverse. Trippy.

stained mahogany in the sun

stained sample boards

With the samples against the bare footboard, you can see how the graining will look when it’s finished.

footboard and stain samples

On the appointed day, our bed arrived. Two guys made short work of setting it up—they’d done this before. In a flash, our saggy bed was gone and this beauty was in its place. Duke approved.

TempurPedic bed

Flat as a flitter! Hard as a board! (A board covered in memory foam, that is.)

flat new mattress

Believe it or not, that’s exactly what we like. I can’t get over the fact that I can lie anywhere on this bed and there’s NO sag or trough. Ahhhh! The only problem I’ve encountered is a reluctance to get out of bed in the morning.

In a few weeks, our free pillows arrived, each in its own little fabric suitcase, as if they expected to go on vacation with us. Wouldn’t you think that if you buy a king bed, you’d get king pillows? But no, these are “standard” size. I’m not sure whose standard, because they get lost in standard pillowcases. They look like little kids wearing daddy’s T-shirts. I think they’re too hard and too high, not soft and squishy like the ones in the showroom. Eric likes his okay, but I’m disappointed. After we made such an effort to buy during the pillow giveaway! Bah! (“I would sleep on one,” offered Lacy.)

small memory foam pillows

However, the bed is divine. We and our bedcats love it. I immediately quit thinking about how much money the whole gambit is costing us. A good night’s sleep is priceless, as Chex and Peggy Sue will attest.

(Stay tuned for the staining story … it’ll happen, um … soon! I’ll be doing it outside, so the weather needs to be perfect.)


Two cats cuddling





14 thoughts on “I HATE DIY!!! (part 2)

  1. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    Awwwww. Chez and Peggy Sue are adorable. Lacy is regal as ever and I am jealous of your new bed. Eric did a magnificent job on the footboard. I’m excited to see it with the stain… in a few months. 😉

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      My goal is to have headboard and footboard done by the end of June. That would be more than enough time for most folks! Hey, cats rule the Internet, so a few cat pix never hurt a blog post, right? 🙂

  2. Karen B.

    We have a memory foam mattress on our guest bed and our Austin family swear it’s the most comfortable bed. Austin daughter in law even stashes her own memory foam pillow in the guest room for their visits. Mr. B has one of the pillows as well. I never found them comfortable, but maybe in light of their cost that’s a good thing.

    Eric’s workmanship is impressive. I can’t wait to see the finished bed. The cats crack me up the way they’re locked in embrace while sleeping. 🙂

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Hi Karen! I was surprised at how firm this model is. We wanted a very firm bed, but didn’t think we could achieve that with memory foam. This one’s not for everybody, but it sure works for us! Yes, I can’t wait to see the finished bed, either! 🙂

  3. Anita JEnsen

    I love the bed frame and I liked the color on the far right the best! (And those hard Temp pillows suck!)

    1. D'Arcy H

      Those stain samples are all the same walnut color! There’s so much grain variation in African mahogany … it’ll really be fun to see how it looks finished!

  4. Africadayz

    I’m seriously impressed with your staining techniques! Also, I think you need to make greeting cards out of your heart-shaped kitties; that is the most gorgeous photograph. I did eventually email you. I hope you received it and that it wasn’t relegated to ‘spam’ as some missives from Africa might be…

  5. Jo

    You’ve done the thing I hate to do — take time to experiment with the finish BEFORE trying it on the actual project. Can’t wait to see this whole thing finished; it’s going to look marvelous. Maybe I can take some lessons from you since I also have a bedstead to refinish; it’s leaning against my dresser drawers in the bedroom. #inconvenient I like a hard bed too. And a squishy pillow. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  6. Nine Dark Moons

    i love the bedcats! omg i wish ours would snuggle like that!
    and the bedframe is going to look so amazing when it’s stained – that pic of the 3 stained test pieces leaning against the headboard made me swoon – the stain brings out so much of the color and texture! can’t wait to see it all done! love the new bed too! but yeah, those pillows would have disappointed me, too.


Don't be shy! Leave a comment--I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s