09 January 2011

the saga of the bunkbed

The PINK bunkbed.

Adam and I talked at length about what to do about the sleeping arrangements for our girls - ages 4 and 3, both in toddler beds (one of which was actually the crib converted to a toddler bed), and the baby who had outgrown the bassinet but had nowhere else to go because her sister still had the crib so she slept with us all the time. We decided to have him build a bunkbed with a trundle beneath, with the future intention of it being the bed for all 3 girls. We estimated the cost to be approximately what it would cost to buy a regular bunkbed at Sam's Club but that wouldn't have the trundle. And we figured building one would be much more sturdy than buying a cheap one. A good solid bunkbed costs over $1000.

We ended up paying about $500 for the wood and aaaaaall the screws, bolts, sandpaper, paint, and tools we didn't already have. That was about twice our estimate, but we realize that we estimated correctly for just the wood. Not all the other stuff. We'll do better next time. We bought 2 brand new mattresses that were $100 each, but we had that estimate correct.

The steps:
1. Adam bought raw lumber and sanded. And sanded and sanded and sanded. The already-finished furniture grade wood cost twice as much as the raw lumber, but next time, we'll pay it because the sanding took FOREVER. And we had to buy a truckload of sandpaper. But thank heaven for electric sanders!

2. Adam and our friend Aaron - sainted Aaron! - went over and over Adam's original design and measurements. Aaron is an engineer so he was a good one to have on the team. They measured and cut and checked and measured again, and cut all the pieces to their specifications. This also took a lot more hours than we had anticipated. Once they started this step, Adam told me many times, "Just a couple more hours." It took a long time to do this because of tweaking the design midstream to get everything balanced right. They did a dry-fit of putting the two bunks together while they were drilling the bolt holes to make sure it all worked.

3. Once the dry fit was done, they brought all the boards to our house from Aaron's house (they did everything at his house up to that point because Aaron has all the needed shop tools in his garage) and stacked them on our patio. Time to treat the wood!

ready to ... stain? paint?

4. SM asked repeatedly for a princess bunkbed - a PINK one. Dad didn't want pink, he wanted a "nice stain." I'm tired of dingy cream-colored walls and carpet (dumb rental rules) and brown furniture, so I was more inclined to go with the pink, or at least some color. But I went to the store and came home with a stain, as requested, that I "disliked the least." None of them appealed to me. Adam sent me back to the store and said that he didn't care how much it cost, just get whatever I was willing to live with for the next 10 years. I came home with testers for 3 different shades of pink, a couple of purples, and a yellow. Guess which one the kiddos liked the best. They were with me when I went to Home Depot to buy the paint and oh my - you would have thought it was Christmas. (Well, it was. But that's beside the point.) They told everyone they saw, including other customers, that we were there to get pink paint for their princess bunkbed.

5. Painting. I let the girls help me paint a little bit, but mostly I did it myself. I suppose it would have been a good experience for them to help more, but at that point, we'd already been working on the thing for over a month and I just wanted it done. The weather turned rather cold while I was working on it which meant the paint wouldn't dry well outside, and when it warmed up, it started raining. So the wood just stayed under tarps outside for a week or two while we waited for the weather to cooperate. I finally just put a drop cloth down on the living room floor at night after the girls were in bed and painted inside. It took about a week of this to get both coats of paint onto the boards. Once I finished painting, we put a clear coat of polyurethane on everything as a protection for the paint. It adds a little bit of gloss but mostly it's so marks on the wood wipe right off and the paint doesn't get gouged.

one of the days I was able to paint outside

6. Time to put this baby together! Two days before Christmas, we rearranged our entire upstairs by switching Adam and me into the small bedroom and all 3 girls into the larger one. JE finally got moved into the crib at 8 months old (and she's still freaking out about it). Adam put the bed frame all together and went to buy the mattresses. Merry Christmas!

framing the bed late at night

ta da! the pink bunkbed!

7. And then ... the mattresses didn't fit. The bedframe was too big by at least 6 inches all the way around. Plus, it was REALLY tall - note in the picture that the frame for the lower bunk hits Adam just below his hip - normally a bed height is around your knees so you can sit on it. We crammed pillows and cushions around SM's bottom bunk mattress and called Aaron to come over and look at it to see how to fix it.

8. Yesterday, Aaron came over in the morning with his saw, and they took the whole thing apart and cut every. single. board. Fortunately they had to cut only one end of each of them, so no repainting was required. And they got it all done and put back together before 9 pm, when it was time for little girls to go to bed.

The final shot: storage on top for now, SM on the bottom bunk, RG on the floor. Princess blankets for the princess bed ... SM has all the pink, and RG has a purple Tinkerbell blanket. The green sheets match Tinkerbell's dress. P.S. The basket at the foot of the bed is for their dress-ups, not dirty clothes.

We're still not quite done. The trundle platform will be built in February or March - my target is to have it done before my sister comes to visit on March 26. But the bed itself is done. Doesn't it look great!

And yes, if we have more children to need it, Adam would build another bunkbed. He's hoping for blue rather than pink.


abrew said...

LOVE it - good work Adam! I really like the L shape bed on the bottem - we just did that after trying the trundle thing for a while - but it was so LAME to have to pull the bed out every night - but when these kids are only 3 feet tall they really don't need a full bed :)

Looks great!

april b said...

Wow! Looks great! I'm so impressed!

Jacqueline Auna and family said...

Great job, Adam! What a beautiful bed.

Heather said...

Whoa. That was pretty intense. But looks like all your hard work paid off! Lucky girls. :)

Dumitru Petrus said...

I just got to do only a chair for my 18 month babygirl. (And it still took me 2 days)
As some samples for the trundle I recommend you to go to www.ana-white.com. She has the measurements and some photos from people that already build it.
Good luck and thanks for the price list.