Storage / Platform Bed

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I needed more storage in the apartment, because I hate crowded, poorly organized closets. I like to see my clothes and regularly used stuff at once, and find it very frustrating to have stuff piled high. I also liked the idea of a raised bed, thinking that would create some separation between the “bedroom” and “living room” portions of my one room. The sliding doors are another hack-in-progress, more on them later…

bed plan

So I doodled a bit (drawing’s not my strong suit, as evident above!) and came up with something that I liked. Originally I thought to incorporate some kind of a bookshelf to act as a rail so I wouldn’t fall from the bed, but pretty soon I realised this wasn’t going to be necessary. I haven’t fallen from my bed since I was 4 or something… It also looked nicer without the railing.

Bed underlay top structure

Then I sketched it up with the measurements I knew I would work with. I had already decided to build the base out of Ikea kitchen cabinets and doors. I’ve seen a lot of raised beds in Ikea Hackers and elsewhere in the net, and the cabinet versions seemed to end up looking the nicest. They also played together with my new kitchen, helping to make the small space coherent and calm.

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Altogether there’s nine cabinets. Four 80 cm wide ones: 2 in the front and 2 in the back. There’s one 60 cm wide cabinet on the back, since the back wall is 230 cm and 60 cm was the widest that would fit. And then there’s four 40 cm wide cabinets: one in the front and three in the end.

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All of the cabinets rest on a simple wooden footing on the floor, but nothing is attached to the floor or the walls. The weight of the unit with the bed on top is plenty enough to keep it in place. I put loads of big felt pads under the footing to keep it from scratching the floor, in case I want to sell the place later. I’m not sure those are necessary, but they’re there now… I even remembered to paint the lumber footing before laying it on the floor, so I didn’t have to paint it in the spot!

The cabinets are attached to the footing and to the adjacent ones. Then I built the inner structure, adding lumber to hold most of the weight of the bed and to rigidify the part with no cabinets. The big pieces of lumber are on 2 corners of the bed and the cabinets and smaller lumber hold the back side of the bed. I also added 15 mm plywood on top of the cabinets to give them a nice finish and to keep with the theme of the kitchen (and to make the top level, where they’re not visible). Only the parts that are visible form under the mattress are treated – yes, I’m lazy. 🙂

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My bed is a box spring -type bed (the kinda mattress with a built-in wooden frame, they don’t seem to sell the exact same type at least in the States) from Ikea and I attached it to the cabinets and the plywood with L-brackets. That way I didn’t need to build a “roof” to my storage space: the mattress forms the roof. I just made sure to measure the base so that the mattress covers the opening!

A quick search didn’t come up with a tutorial on how to shorten the cabinets for the steps, so I’m thinking of doing one. But since I didn’t take pics the first time I did these, it might be a while…

Basically, I just sawed the sides of one 40 cm wide cabinet into two and drilled new holes to correspond to the required bits to assemble the cabinets. To someone with a bit of DIY experience it was pretty straightforward and easily figurable just by looking at the parts and how they were supposed to fit together. Of course I needed 2 cabinets for the hack (to have enough top and bottom parts), but I didn’t need to use the sides of the other cabinet. I also got around with just 1 door for these shorter ones!

I left the 80 cm wide middle cabinet open (no backing!) to form a doorway into my storage space. To keep it looking uniform I only used the 40 cm wide doors. Most of the plywood is attached with screws from underneath, but the smallest step was so low that it was easier to glue the cover piece on it. Oh, and then I put some thick cardboard covered with DC Fix (a semi-permanent plastic film/tape) over the end piece on top of the steps, to cover the hole there and make it look nice. That’s just attached with double sided tape and seems to be holding up fine.

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And I even have a light under there, to make it easier to rummage for what I need… I think it turned out pretty nifty, and it’s definitely great to have so much storage!  It makes me happy just looking at it – there’s nothing quite like the feeling of a job well done!

Let me know if you find this helpful and please share if you build something similar! I’d love to see your interpretation of the storage bed! 🙂

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Renovation: Assembling the Kitchen!

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Right. So, after we had the old kitchen taken down and finished the new walls we could start assembling the new kitchen! I bought the cabinets and doors from Ikea – I’ve been happy with my previous Ikea-kitchens, they look nice and are very good value for money.

That nook that extends from the wall outwards was a challenge: it’s only 172 cm high. It had the fridge-freezer combi and that fit nicely, so I decided to stick with that. Another challenging point was that the lower cabinets needed to be extended from the wall about 8 cm in order to fit the plumbing there: my counter needed to be at least 70 cm deep. The normal depth is 62 cm, but a lot of places sell 80 cm deep counters for islands and such. The only problem was length – my counter is 3,20 m long. Apparently you can buy countertop materials in 62 cm for up to 400 cm long sheets, but the 80 cm deep sheets tend to extend to maximum 300 cm.

Since there was going to be a seam anyway (there was no way I was gonna shell out the cash for a MTM Corian counter!), I figured I could try something out. Plywood is relatively cheap and looks awesome, and it has held up nice with the Osmo wax in the table I made a couple of years ago. So I got a couple of sheets of the thickest birch plywood and we cut them to form on site.

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Plywood can be tricky to saw, mmkay. Any sawblade needs to be very sharp, and at least for circular saws there’s special plywood blades with a lot of small teeth. If you use an electrical jigsaw, like we did on the cutouts for the sink and the stove top, don’t use any forward motion in the blade. That will splinter the plywood. Some people recommend putting tape to the intended saw line and sawing through that, which might have helped. I only saw this tip after we had already finished the counter… 🙂 Anyway, no forward motion on the blade with very slow and careful forward motion with the saw did the trick for us.

Here you can also see the scaffolding we attached to the wall behind the cabinets. It extends the cabinets so that they can be attached to the wall as intended, but the plumbing has space underneath. Also the top cabinets are attached to the wall via scaffolding. That allows room for electrical wirings and whatnot, and it was easier to attach just 2 long scaffoldings to the concrete wall. The cabinets were much easier to attach to the scaffolding, in turn…

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Starting to take shape… the empty spot in the middle is for the dishwasher.

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Sanding the countertop would have been easier on top of another table, but we had already attached this in order to measure and cut out holes for the sink and stove top. The sides of the holes, especially for the stove top, were thin and we were scared to break the counter top if we moved it.

The cut outs are lined with a marine silicone/glue to keep any water out of the plywood. After attaching the sink (more silicone/glue and the snippets that are screwed in), I waxed the counter with Osmo products just like I did with the table. I’ve been using the kitchen for about 7 months now, and it seems I need to put another coat of the wax on… but this was to be expected. My friend has waxed their counter with the same products and she told me they needed to rewax a couple of times the first year and yearly after that.

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And here it is in all it’s glory! 🙂 The top cabinets are lined with plywood, I think that gives the outside a nice finish. I was a bit worried about placing the oven next to the fridge, but I’ve been cooking a lot and following how it behaves, and there seems to be very little escape heat on the sides of the oven. There’s plenty air space behind the oven and some between it and the fridge too.

I finished the back edge of the countertop with some more silicone/glue and a U-shaped aluminium profile. My first idea was to put glass next to the wall to protect the wallpaper, but I didn’t like the look of it. So I painted the wallpaper with a couple of coats of clear laqcuer. I figured I’ll see how long it lasts… So far it’s held up nice! I just wipe any spills with a damp cloth and they haven’t left stains.

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The oven, stove top , fridge, microwave (in the left cupboard) and faucet are from the old kitchen, so I only had to buy the dishwasher, extractor hood and sink. I dreamt of a new faucet, but the nice ones tend to cost a pretty penny. My plumber warned me against Ikea faucets, he had heard of a lot of leaks with them. In the end I figured I could update the faucet later.

The washing machine I had bought for my old place, so that didn’t add to the costs either. It needs so much extra space behind it that I can’t get a door to cover it, because the plumbing eats away what extra I had behind there. I’ve been thinking of a curtain to cover it up, but it doesn’t really bother me as it is, either, so that hasn’t been a high priority.

The parts aside from the plywood counter and finishings are Ikea, but the design and the magic to put them together is all my talented friends and me! I can’t even begin to say how happy I am with the new kitchen! It’s much more functional and pretty now!! 🙂

Tutorial: plywood table with HAY trestles

 

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I fell in love with the HAY Loop Stand Table, but my wallet wasn’t too happy about the price. The table was simply too much, but the trestles were more affordable… 2 years ago this table seemed like a big project, but a bit of DIY attitude and curiosity goes a long way: it was rewarding and I definitely learned a lot!

The local timber center (Puukeskus for my finnish readers) sells birch plywood in 2 sheet sizes: 122×244 cm or 150×300 cm. You’ll have to buy the whole sheet, and they will cut it to size (straight cuts) for a minimal fee. I got the 21 mm, and the thickest they have is 24 mm.

After calculating, pondering and taping outlines to the floor I figured I wanted the dimensions to be about 100×180 cm. I recommend you get the shop to cut it for you with professional equipment. Plywood can be tricky to saw – and we’re talking a table here, it’s pretty important to get the edges just so!

I wanted the trestles to sit about 20 cm from the ends, and that left me with a span of 140 cm in between. Now that’s so much that the table will sag and sway unless you rigidify it.

This is where the project got tricky. I didn’t come to think the plywood sheet would sag and I wasn’t prepared for it. Now I know better – one thing I like about crafting is you get to solve puzzles like this. It can be a brain jog, but that feeling when the pieces click is ah-mazing! 😀

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This project clicked when I was hanging out at a hardware store. I didn’t want to add a ton of lumber under the table. I mean, it’s supposed to look very light and airy! And then I saw the solution: the Elfa wall mount rail was perfect for the job! It’s rigid enough without much bulk, sold in various lengths (anything between about 120 and 140 cm was good for me), has holes for the screws and comes in white! Hurrah!

The support and legs screwed in for stability (remember to select your screws carefully, so you don’t puncture the top of the plywood!), it was time to sand and coat the surface. I started with some 80- or 100-grit on an orbital sander and worked my way up to 240. Brush the dust from the surface between sandings.

Before the last sand I wiped the surface with a damp, almost wet cloth. This makes any remaining small fibers stand up from the plywood and once the surface is dry again, you can sand those away. I find this gives a smoother finish.

I used Osmo Color Wood Wax in White and Clear. I wanted an “untreated” plywood look but also a usable finish to protect the wood. That’s where the white tint comes in handy: if you just use a clear wood wax or oil, you’ll end up with a yellow tint in the birch – the kind of “oiled wood” look.

Working with the wax is easy, if you’ve sanded the surface smooth (also the sides and underneath!). I like to use a non-woven cloth, but an old t-shirt can work just as well. The trick is to add very little at a time, and to rub it in along the direction of the grain. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the grain direction in plywood, which makes it harder to get the color even. I watched the How to -videos in finnish, but I found some in english, too.

Just remember: with the tinted version any and all stripes or dots visible on the surface will stay like that, if you let them dry. I like to take a fresh piece of cloth to buff the surface a few minutes after I’ve spread the coat. Thin coats are OK, you don’t need much for a good seal with this stuff!

In the top photo you can see I only did about 15-20 cm under the table – I don’t think there’ll be too many spills that get under there, so I got lazy. I venture to guess things might be different if I had kids around… If in doubt, finish the underside as well! 🙂

A thin coat dries enough to re-apply in about 4 hours or more, if it’s very humid or cold. After 2 or 3 coats of the tinted wax I’ve let it dry for a day or two before adding the clear top coat(s). Aftercare is very important: I don’t put anything on the surface for at least 24 hours after it’s finished. I also protect the surface for about a week before using it heavily, since the wax will need time to harden. The wax will protect against liquids beautifully, but the wax (or the plywood) can’t handle direct heat, so use coasters for hot things!

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Here you can see the difference between finished and untreated plywood. On this table I did 2 white coats and 1 top coat.

Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it! 🙂