Progress on redecorating my bedroom has definitely slowed. I totally forgive you for forgetting I am even doing it. However, in between work deadlines, trips to Atlantic City, and
playing with dolls helping some tiny bloggers remodel their home, I have been working on a project. Specifically, I have been making a custom chest to go at the foot of our bed.
Here is what it looked like before the makeover started:
Terrible photography and questionable IKEA furniture aside, a big issue here is that we don’t have a lot of space in this room. It definitely gets cluttered, which makes me crazy, and not in the endearing way. I really wanted the functionality of extra storage (and place to sit) from a chest at the foot of the bed, but couldn’t go with standard sizes because there wouldn’t be room to walk around it. The perfect opportunity to make something designed for my space!
Of course, need is always only half the reason for DIY. I also really want to try my hand at making more substantial things out of wood (beyond my half-successful console table which graces my living room) and a box seemed like an approachable starting place.
I measured the space and mapped out dimensions and plans for a very simple, modern box.
It is a little silly, as it is only 9.5″ deep! Still that is the depth that would fit without endangering our toes while we maneuver around it in the night.
I really wanted to make this out of red oak, which is quickly becoming my favorite wood. It is beautiful and warm, and looks great in this room – I used it for the shelves in the bedroom and still love them. However, it is super expensive, so I knew I had to find a different solution. I ventured to a lumber yard for the first time (definitely not as intimidating as it may sound) and bought a big piece of plywood faced with red oak. Bonus that it is not as hard so it was easier to work with!
I don’t have a table saw, so I made the cuts with my circular saw. I hadn’t used it for bigger cuts before, so I took the time to research safe ways to do it. I set up a pair of sawhorses in the driveway with three 2x4s across them.
This allowed me to clamp the pieces of wood across them to cut, using another piece of wood as a guide. I made sure to set the blade only a little deeper than the plywood, so that I didn’t damage the integrity of the 2x4s!
To make the very long cuts, I cut along one of the 2x4s. This prevents the two pieces of wood from flexing and pinching the blade, which can cause it to stick and spring backward toward you.
My cuts weren’t perfect at first, but I definitely got a lot better as I had a bit of practice.
Once I had all of the pieces cut, I looked them over to be sure the most attractive sides would be most visible in the final design. I then took my favorite to be the front face, and cut out the hand-hole. (Uck, is there a better word for it than hand-hole? Why can’t I think of it? If so, can somebody please tell me in the comments?)
The box is very simple and, well, boxy, so I wanted a sleek MCM look for the front. I marked a simple angular design with pencil, drilled the corners, and cut it out with a jigsaw.
Finally, it was time to assemble! I was dying to try out a kreg jig, and this was my first chance. I found it surprisingly intuitive and very fun (besides the fact that my drill died like 3 times in the course of drilling all these pocket holes).
It started looking very much like a box!
It was gratifying to see it start coming together. However, this was the point of the project where I had to pay the price for skimping on real wood and going with plywood instead. I had plywood edges showing!
It was fun to use, if a little fussy. I just ran over it with an iron and, like magic, it looked like I had a solid piece of wood!
The edging is just slightly wider than the plywood (so you don’t have to be 100% perfect when laying it down) but that does mean that I ended up with overhang along every edge. I didn’t know any better so I sanded it down by hand. However, I have since learned that there is a special tool that you can just run along the edge to slice off the overhang (affiliate link – read our policies).
I definitely wished I had this because so much sanding was a pain, but I would have still sanded over it, anyway. The slightly rounded corner is key to making it look like a natural piece of wood.
After sanding (which is the worst step in any project by far) I got to move on to staining (undeniably the best step in any project by far). I always find it so fun to watch the stain bring out the beautiful definition and grain in the wood!
I used my new favorite stain – Golden Pecan – to match the treatment I did on the shelves in that room so these pieces would work well together.
After that, it was just a matter of putting on a coat of clear, semi-gloss poly (which I certainly didn’t do at 11 0’clock the night before I had to take my “after” photos…) and attaching the lid using a pair of accordian hinges.
Just pretend these photos aren’t quite so back-lit:
I’m really proud of how this turned out! Sage and I recently shared some “stretch projects” that have helped us develop new skills, and this definitely falls in that category for me. It is a simple shape but that made it a good project to try out new tools and techniques. I’m glad I finally got it done and that it works so well in the room!
I love the warm tone of the red oak against the cool colors that I used in most of the room. It is just the right size and I’m not worried about stubbing by toe on it tonight 🙂
I’m also thrilled to have all of this new storage. Brad keeps some extra pillows in the room for reading in bed and I hate the way they lay around in piles, so this will be their new home. It may be narrow, but it is wide, so there is a good amount of space in there!
This is one giant step forward on finally finishing up this bedroom project! Here is where we are:
Hang shelves in the corner Buy and/or DIY matching bedside tables (ideally with loads of dresser-like storage) Buy and/or DIY a bench for the end of the bed (DONE!) Buy a new rug and bedding
- Install new overhead light
Decide between lamps or scones for beside the bed, and buy/install
- Buy and/or DIY several pieces of art for the walls (progress)
- Hang window treatments
Fix gaping hole in the wall by installing grate Finally paint window sashes
As you can see, we’re almost done! This was the last big project. Let’s see if I can’t finish this up in the next few weeks!
(Updated to add: check out the finished bedroom here!)