Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Next project - The Master Bedroom...

There's been a lot going on around here. Don't mistake my silence for inactivity. Far from it. I've been so busy, it's been hard to stop and put finger to keyboard.

I set myself a deadline of the end of January to finish working on the ARMOIRE.  (Post to follow...)
I missed that by two weeks but I have a good excuse.
I rediscovered the joy of tapestry! I found this...

...lurking in my sewing stash and thought it should be completed to add to the tapestry stash. You know it makes sense. If I'm going to be Britains leading patchwork tapestry bag-making-upholsterer-extraordinaire when I grow up, it has to be done.

I swear I lost two weeks and may have a slight hunch now but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And of course it's not finished because I'm on the background now and that is very boring indeed.

But what was the armoire deadline all about? It was the only thing standing between me and starting the WALK IN WARDROBE in the master bedroom. I was itching to get cracking.

But what did I do instead? I built a bed. From scratch. I'm not sure if it was procrastination or fear of starting a bigger job but it seemed sensible. I bought a fancy (and scary) new saw so I figured I'd cut my teeth (no pun intended) on that, building furniture that would be masterfully hidden by upholstery.

Be still my beating heart...

Jason was going away for a few days so I thought it would give me ample time to get it completed as a surprise when he actually thought I was building a walk in wardrobe.
No, I didn't think that through.
Who would rather choose a bed over a walk in wardrobe?
Nobody, that's who.

And why, I hear you cry, if it's not still the seventies, would anyone dream of building a bed from scratch?

Well, I'll tell you. I recently replaced my silly little French bed with a proper English brass bed, and went from zero storage to 576 litres. It's a lot like having an extension! I can store so many boxes of fabric and wallpaper and tapestry and books and you name it. It's under there.

Life changing.

Plus it's so high, you just need to swing your legs out on a morning and you're almost standing up. It's a beautiful thing.

So in the master bedroom, (He snores. LOUDLY.) Jason had a king size divan bed from our last place that was too large for the room. It was low and had those crappy drawers that fall apart when you over fill them. And of course I over filled them. Plus the mattress was kind of sunken. That bed had had it's day.

We wanted a very particular bed-

  • High. Most shop bought beds are lower than we liked. High equals more storage.
  • No headboard. Most wooden beds have them incorporated. I want to do my own thing.
  • Seriously sturdy. Most modern wooden beds look like sticks of firewood to me. I wanted something you could jump on without fear of it snapping. You just never know when you might need to jump on a bed. 
  • No footboard. 

I couldn't find what I wanted.
My Dad always built beds at home. He built us bunk beds, then a double with built in bedside tables, then a kingsize.

So I decided to have a go. Here's the design...

Technical drawing might not be my thing.

{Technical details - I needed chunky wood for the outside frame, stud timber for the two central supports, floorboards for the slats, timber for the battens at each end for the slats to rest on, and chunky wood for the legs. I used joist hangers to hold the cross braces in place and coach bolts to hold the frame to the legs. Cost = £110 which would have come in much lower if Jason hadn't refused to drive with wood sticking out of the boot. I had to get more short pieces with more wastage.}

My lovely friend Jane came over to supervise my first cuts of the saw. I went from terrified to madly in love in the time it took me to do a few cuts. That saw is spot on.

It all went swimmingly until one corner just wouldn't square up. I realised that the wood was a bit warped and it wasn't my shoddy carpentry. Anyway, as I said, this bed is not designed to be a thing of beauty. I was planning to make a fitted valance to hide the whole thing.

This was my aim...

Costing squillions from the White Company, it was my inspiration. I wasn't planning on upholstering it quite like this but this was the look I was after. Except not that headboard.

Want to see mine?

I've only one floorboard slat in place at this point. The rest were screwed on with gaps between as mattresses need circulation. I took photos but they vanished.

I told you it wasn't a thing of beauty. It was also a little lower than I was expecting. Which, when it's made to measure is ridiculous. But measuring is my weakness.

Another disaster; there was a slight cock up with the mattress I ordered as I got the date wrong by a week. So poor Jason returned late from Europe to find he was sleeping on the old mattress on the floor which wasn't quite the exciting surprise I'd planned. Oops.

So the next job was the valance. This was a freaking NIGHTMARE. It took longer to make than the bed. I ripped seams out time and time again.

Lessons learned - Never, ever under any circumstances work with velvet again. Right sides together, the pile makes it move. I had to hand tack all the joins and it still moved.

It does look luxurious though. I got it at our local market, it's very thick and actually fire retardant so I can do a headboard with it if my other plan fails. I bought enough fabric just in case.

So here's a close up of the valance...

Forgive the floor. This room needs EVERYTHING doing to it.

It's not perfect but it serves its purpose.

And the bed?

Underneath, it's suitcase city!

The storage is deep enough luckily but we could have increased that space by using a less deep frame. Doh.

So next on the agenda is the headboard. I'm stalling because there's a lot of horrid measuring and spirit levelling.

I'm using this door...

I first told you about HERE.
I've already cut the door down as it was one panel too long.

And I stripped it because the paint was peeling off.

Huge improvement. Not! Watch this space to see if my plan works and I can turn it from a sows ear to a silk purse!

By the way, UK residents, you might have heard of an American show called Fixer Upper with Joanna and Chip Gaines? I found it on ITV BE so you can catch up on there and DROOL along with me!

Right. Headboard. Wish me luck...


  1. Oh WOW Emma Kate - as ever I'm in awe of your talent and bravery!! That bed is going to be a triumph! I can't even begin to imagine taking on something like that and i thought I had imagination. I keep hoping from project to project which is why my bathroom is taking so long but I'm really focused on it at the moment (as well as having bought paint and starting to strip the dining room of course ...) - SO lovely to see you back, I HAVE MISSED YOU! xxx

  2. You are officially my new best friend. :) xxx

  3. Major respect girl! Here's you knocking up beds and I can't even get a coat of paint right! I am seriously impressed that you would even consider undertaking bed building and even more so that you accomplished it so professionally. Not only that, but also a valance and a tapestry! Will look forward to seeing the headboard ....soon I hope. Missed you too. xx
    PS Haven't got far with dresser yet, worked 60 hours last week!

  4. Thanks Fiona, you'll get there with the painting. These things aren't a race, even though I'm desperate to see what it turns out like! xxx

  5. I'm always in stitches when I read your blog posts, Emma Kate, because I've been in many of the same predicaments myself. First off, your needlepoint is looking lovely. If you're like me, your family has probably been foraging for their own meals whilst you've been stitching away. hehe I'm impressed with your new power saw! My hands broke out in a sweat just looking at it, but you are fearless! Your bed is looking good and the velvet bedskirt looks quite professional despite your problems sewing velvet. I learned my lesson when I sewed matching black velvet dresses for our girl's professional portrait when they were young. I should have packed the dresses away afterwords, but instead I had them wear the things to their school Christmas program. After a day at school, many of the seams were coming apart and I couldn't bundle them up and get them hidden at home fast enough!

    I can't wait to see the completed bed and the armoire you were working on, too. Be careful with that saw!

    1. Thanks Vickie. Yes my family have to learn the art of foraging in the fridge. We actually ran out of food at one point as I didn't have time to shop.
      It's character building for them.

  6. Wow, you're ace! Very impressive 👍🏻 There's me deliberating how to attach an upholstered headboard to a wooden bed frame, I clearly have no clue! I'm guessing saw off the wooden one and attach the upholstered headboard with bolts?

    1. Thank you. How about mounting the headboard on to the wall? I just did that with mine today. Here's a link to the fixings on ebay...

      Unless you have the headboard forks and bolts holding the original headboard on? If it's part of the bed, you may just have to saw it off. I'll do a piece on the headboard soon. I got quite far with it today.

  7. By gum girl you really do go where angels fear to tread. I am afraid power tools are not my forte things kinda blow up if I am around! Bed looks fab - well done. When I am working needlepoint I tend to do the main part with all the different colours first and then do the background as something to pick up and put down when I have a few moments. You will be surprised how doing a little bit a day soon grows. Especially in the winter months, but you do have to keep at it. By the way love your patchwork quilt - did you make it? Thank you for your little comment on my blog. Shaming him does not work - and I will end up paying out for the work to be done. In fact I have had a response from said gentleman who wants to come round assess what is involved and then quote. Will probably arrange for him to pop round on Saturday. Look forward to seeing the walk in closet and the armoire. Take care.



    1. Thanks Pattypan, no I didn't make the quilt but I want to do one some day. It's on my bucket list. I got that one years ago from TK MAXX and it's never been used as it was so big it draped all over the floor. Well, not with this new high bed it doesn't so I'm pleased to be using it. It also hides the fact that I haven't made a valance for my own bed yet!
      Good luck with your garden work! xx

  8. You are amazing!!! I am just getting up the nerve to use a small nail gun so I could hang some simple trim, and here you are building beds and such - you are my inspiration!!! Can't wait to see how it all turns out.

    1. Thank you. Ooh a nail gun! I would LOVE a nail gun! I think that's next on my shopping list. The pressurized noise they make is a bit scary though. But I imagine it would save so much time.
      It really helps if you have someone really patient (like my Dad) to show you how to do it. He helped me with the bed from planning stages to completion, over the phone. I wish he was closer.
      If you don't have someone, there's always wood glue and panel pins!

  9. Excellent work there and I am really envious of the velvet valance.
    I had storage issues so took a Stanley knife to the drawerless double bed and cut the fabric off down one side (next to the wall nearly so who sees it) It revealed crappy pine timber and lots of big space . ♥

  10. Thanks Teri. I know what you mean, our old divan was SHODDY inside and looked like it was stapled together! Surprised it lasted as long as it did!
    Good for you for pimping your bed and accessing all that lovely storage! xxx

  11. You and Jon are two of a kind. If there's a way of making it himself he'll have a bash at it.
    Great job and wonderful tapestry, he looks like one of your boys. xxx

  12. Your floorboards are a lot better than ours! THAT SAW - what sawt is it? It looks deadly. I think the desire for power tools could be catching. The bed of course is amaaaaaaaaazing (said in the voice of one of those ninies off Harry Enfield's "I saw you coming" sketches). I need you to come to my house and tell me what to do with our kitchen!!! I am getting more desperate by the hour as to what to do with it. Tell me your favourite cake and I'll make it....

    1. Thanks Lizzie, the saw is an Evolution Compound Mitre Saw from Screwfix. It's has some good safety features so I've not lost any fingers yet.
      Facebook message me some photos of your kitchen and I will play Kitchen Doctor for you! Seriously, I'd love to see. It can't be worse than ours was. I'm not into cake but I will do anything for a packet if Frazzles. xxx

  13. You really are a bloody marvel! I am in awe of the challenges you take on - and the incredible results :) Can't wait to see how the door turns out :) xxx

  14. Emma, i,ve stalked your blog silently for ages, you make me chuckle because you remind me of me . can i ask what paint stripper you use as i bought nitromors this week and it has changed, its now a snot green and about as useful. please carry one keeping me amused
    karen xx

    1. Thanks Karen. I actually didn't use anything but a scraper and a sander as the paint was basically just peeling off. But here's the thing; the EU made us change out all the toxic chemicals in our paintstripper some time ago. You don't get the burning sting if it gets on your skin anymore. It does work, but way, way slower. I like the Wilkos stripper in the white container. You blob it on, wait 15 or 20 mins til it starts to bubble and blob on more. You can wait for half an hour sometimes but it does get there in the end. It doesn't burn, stink or make your eyes water so I guess that's a good thing?
      Please carry on reading! xxx

  15. Great idea Karen, Thank you for inspiring us and I cannot wait to see how it will be.



  16. Hello Emma Kate, I've just come across your fabulous and inspiring blog, after googling about painting melamine Kitchen cupboards. I love your kitchen makeover, and was wondering how your kitchen is faring after all this time. I'm particularly concerned about wear and tear of the paint around the handles, and around the baseboards where the mop and broom might knock against. Are you still happy with yours?

  17. Hi Pam, It's been two years and it's faring very well. Just last night I noticed a small chip on a corner of trim but my kitchen takes a beating so this is amazing. I can re ESP that area ans touch it up easily. No war and tear of the paint around the handles whatsoever! I'm more than happy! I haven't yet painted the base boards though only because I don't think they come off so I need to lay new floor in front of them and then paint them. I was going to use a darker colour to hide any marks better so I'm not cleaning it every five minutes. I need to do a kitchen update post. Hope this helps.

    1. Thanks for your reply, I think I'm going to do it! I was thinking about using a kitchen paint instead of the F&B-might be tougher? I was thinking of pale grey and your comment about dark base boards was very helpful. maybe a darker grey on the baseboards. My worktops are dark very/black laminate so the dark grey baseboards could work really well.

    2. Do you mean a kitchen wall paint? I'd have thought an F&B eggshell would be tougher.
      Good luck with it!

    3. oh-I was thinking the opposite, If your F&B has stood the test of time I probably should stick with that.


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