A couple weeks ago someone asked me if our home was filled with beautiful handmade furniture...
I had to pause and think before I answered. On one hand; yes: most of our furniture is handmade and I do believe it to be beautiful, but... Our home is full of practice and prototypes. Still very pretty and solidly built; but practice and prototypes none the less. So, to be honest our furniture is beautiful and handmade, but what we build for ourselves has a dual purpose. Our furniture is often experiment, education and play. It's quirky and cool and it doesn't really match. Not that there's anything wrong with that....
It's not uncommon for us to build a new design out of scrap lumber to be sure comfort and proportion are as intended before building a commissioned piece for a client. As a result we own quite a few mismatched chairs, and there's a piece or two in the basement that aren't all that comfortable, but were the forerunners of some pieces others own that we are quite proud of.
Sometimes we give a practice piece away, sometimes we keep it, and sometimes we buy a six-pack and have a bon-fire. Occasionally, family and friends get new stuff because we're working out an idea...
Which brings me to the beds: My granddaughters needed beds that afforded them more storage in their small rooms, and I needed to mock up a prototype veneer panel for a new commission that I was working on with local client. Why not combine the veneer sample in one of the beds? This allowed my local client to visualize the panel on a much larger scale and I could work out the pattern and process on my granddaughter's bed. Win-win.
So back to the beds... Elle (9) and Rowyn (7) both need beds for their rooms. I wanted a design that works for kids and satisfies parents. This means:
- It has to be sturdy and last through a kid's growth stages; won't break or fall apart when jumped upon.
- You can't hide crap under it when you are told to clean your room.
- It needs to break down and move easily for when the girls decide to switch rooms and/or leave for college.
- It should scale and flex to their needs as they grow.
- It should look good and that look should be able to change as the girls get older.
As a result, my granddaughters got new beds for Christmas. Prototype beds... Sturdy, attractive, practice beds. :) I'm not done with this design by any stretch....
They break down into 4 parts: Headboard, footboard, and two (2) drawer bases with 4 drawers and one cubby each. An assembled bed has 8 large drawers and 2 cubicle spaces. Heavy duty; made with 3/4" ply the beds can take all they choose to dish out. For the girls at this stage, the cubicles are strung with bungee cord to corral their stuffed animals. In the future, the shelf peg holes we included will allow them to transition to book storage.
Headboard and footboard have threaded inserts that allow them to bolt to the drawer bases through slots in the structure. A solid connection with allowances for configuration changes and tolerance for not quite level floors. The whole bed breaks down and reassembles quickly with a simple 1/2" wrench.
Planning for the future, the bed can change sizes with a different headboard/footboard, simply slide the drawer bases apart, top the span with a sheet of ply and their twin beds will easily accept full, queen or king mattresses. Design/style of headboard and footboard are now limitless, we can do just about anything.
Which means the girls will be seeing new configurations for their beds as I work out additional prototypes to prove the concept. Right now, I see a desk footboard for studious Elle, and probably a dollhouse headboard and footboard for Ro.
For now, they love them. Mom is happy with all the storage, and I was able to show my commission client my veneer concept using Elle's bed. Win-win.
Practice with a plan really does help you get one step closer.