I'm a thrifty person with furniture tastes that run toward Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn mixed with a bit of Ikea. The solution? Ana White's Knockoff Wood. Ana White and her community create building plans for exactly the kinds of furnishings I prefer.
I ended up mixing two different Pottery Barn pieces and combining them into one bed-- the Mason headboard (aka Reclaimed Wood Headboard) and the Stratton platform storage bed (Ana's plans are here). The plans make building just as easy and satisfying as sewing. With the exception of carrying the bed into the house and joining the base pieces for final assembly, I did everything solo.
It took me three days just to measure and cut the pieces, and the platform "benches" took a while to construct, but the miraculous Kreg Jig made everything join up beautifully.
The headboard planks had a lot of flex and bow to them, so I added four vertical strips of scrap wood to the back and screwed them to each horizontal board. This is just one way I probably overdid it on sturdiness.
The toughest aspect of the project was keeping everything level and square as I worked. All told, I spent approximately 35-40 hours working in my garage and made many trips to the orange and blue warehouses for supplies.
One of the fun parts was beating the furniture with the claw end of my hammer, the star of a Phillips screwdriver, a rasp, and a chisel in order to distress the lumber with scars.
After that workout, I sanded it all again, vacuumed the dust, conditioned the wood, and began the staining process. I feared I'd gotten carried away and made too many marks on the wood, but now that it's finished it almost seems like I could have beaten it up even more. The way the stain soaked into the scars really appeals to me.
I thought the Minwax Dark Walnut stain was what I wanted, but when I tested it, it looked ridiculously dark to us, so I went with a gallon of Provincial and stirred in 1/3 cup of Golden Oak to lighten it a bit. Since I like the woodgrain to show, I did not prime or condition the wood. For a topcoat I chose a water based poly satin. The can recommended three coats, but I think one would have been fine.
Buying these pieces from PB would have cost around $2000 + baskets. The cost of building them (lumber, screws, nails, new saw blades, wood glue, wood filler, stain, polyurethane, sandpaper, brushes, a Kreg Jig, new drill bits, etc.) added up to roughly $700.
I couldn't stand to move my new furniture into a drab room, so additional work and shopping were both necessary. I picked out carpet and we moved everything out of the bedroom so I could paint and rip out the carpet, padding, and staples.
I've drawn up plans for a dresser/media stand in the same style as our bed (and future nightstands), and will be starting on it this week. I also need to choose baskets for under the bed and new art for the bedroom walls.
Anyone can do this! All it takes is patience, perseverance, and the ability to read and follow directions.