The Alcove Bed

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jpor4180

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DAY 1

Been prevaricating on this one a while. When I found out last week that I'd be waiting ~1 week for my wood order for my garage doors (WIP found here: topic111103.html ) I thought I'd squeeze it in. My sister's bedroom is 2.5m wide. Her new mattress is 1.9m long so there's room head and toe for bookshelves. On top of this, she's always wanted a window seat, and her rabbit to not jump on her bed making all kinds of rabbit mess. The bed was therefore designed to "sit" on a bank of three shelf units that bring her up to near window height, and box in the window so that it comes out over the radiator (which she never uses so no problems there) and becomes a window seat. The idea is to make the bed look fit to an alcove, and the whole thing is framing the window effectively.

The cabinets, bringing out the wall farther and adding some nice crown, chair, and picture frame molding should give the whole entity depth, while a white satin finish should bounce light round the room and hopefully make a relatively small room feel bigger. The "roof" of the bed will be lowered on top of the bookshelves to give the bed occupant an ensconced feeling. My sister has a relatively stressful job (police officer) and spends pretty much all of her time not at work sleeping. It's an important space for her, and maybe even can feel like a safe space from the unsavoury characters she might happen on during the day/night at work.

Starting this was a bit of a last minute decision, and when I phoned Jewson last Friday morning they couldn't deliver till Monday. Not a problem for the MDF but I wanted to start the framing then and there. I picked up maybe 24 2x4s for this project which was a breeze in the Skoda Rapid (a cracking car by the way if anyone's interested, it's only a 1litre - that's only 100cc more than my motorbike - but it's just as quick as my old 1.6 mini I recommend it to everyone!). I did 2 trips to be safe but could have done it in one at a push.

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I wheeled out the mitre saw for this one as cutting 8foot lengths down the centre in the workshop can be a bit of a pain at times, and back then it wasn't snowing! The idea for the base is basically a "ribcage" design. 2x4s make boxes which are braced down the centre for left-right torsion with a spine.

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I used galvanised frame brackets for creating the ribs. I could have just screwed them into each other tbh or toenailed them but I was interested in trying out these brackets. For what they are, they're expensive, and didn't really provide anything more stable than toenailing. Assembly was made pretty quick though as I set up a little 2x4 fence to show me where to fasten each bracket .

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For the ribs, I levelled them in situ by using screws as adjustable feet. Fortunately the floor dropped off pretty much linearly right-left so I knew each box would be slightly lower than its right hand neighbour. Using the RHS as my arbitrary reference, I used a spirit level to drive the screws to the correct height before flipping over for a sanity check. Flipping them over was no issue here as the 100mm or so span of the framing timber isn't enough to make this method inaccurate (i.e. when you flip it left becomes right and right becomes left). I can't think of a good way to phrase this so if it doesn't make sense just ask and I'll do a diagram.

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I used a string line across the front to make sure all the boxes lay on the same axis. The two central boxes aren't as deep as they sit in front of the radiator so a string line was required instead of pushing everything against a far wall.

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I then added the spines, some more cross pieces along the top to support the ply for the mattress, and some cross bracing on the bottom nearside. This part was the least supported area as the bottom spine for this area is recessed quite a way to accommodate the cabinets.

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To mitigate any racking whatsoever I also fastened the frame to the walls.


DAY 2

Last Saturday. Set about bringing out the back wall flush with the radiator. Frames were pre-fabricated on the drive then brought upstairs. They could be screwed into the base at the bottom and the top sides were blocked out from the wall which was subsequently hard fastened with more angle brackets.

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I added a header to the frame to give more rigidity to the structure, to take a blind, to support the roof and to attach the boxing for the window. That was all I could do on day 2 as I was still waiting on MDF from Jewson.

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DAY 3

Monday. Jewson turned up pretty late to be honest (gone 1) so I knew I was up against it if I wanted to get the three cabinets cut. Please forgive the dearth of photos for this day. Standard stuff, cutting all components to size. I opted for biscuit joined cabinets on the base. In hindsight I'd have gone with housings as with the top. Sometimes I like to mix it up a bit and these shelves take next to no weight so I knew I'd be fine with biscuits. I'd usually go for an undersized box and then make up for it all with filler panels but the size of the units was constrained to take Ikea storage boxes so I had to come out pretty much bang on with the width of my opening. Obviously I had to fight incredibly hard to get the three units in. I got quite the workout in I have to say.

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jpor4180

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DAY 4

Life got in the way for the rest of the week, and it wasn't till Saturday (yesterday) that I could do any more. I started with making the window seat. This is my favourite part of the whole project, and not even because it's simple. I really wanted the bed to be a frame for the window. I mean it's not a great view but I just liked the idea. I think the depth of this window seat really pulls you in (or will do when it's finished). Call it pretentious tripe, but I feel like I'm being pulled down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass. I also get vertigo, so it's probably just that.

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It was bitterly cold when I got my compressor out to do this. It wasn't delighted to have been awoken from its stupor, and it made sure I knew. Barely driven brad nails and even uglier driven nails were the order of the day. Nothing filler can't fix but bit of a pain.

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The window has a bit of pvc trim with a roundover. To come up flush to the trim I added a 45 degree bevel to my own trim. That way I could overlap the roundover and the only people that know about the gap is you, me and the window cleaner.

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While I was revelling in the ingenuity of all this, I managed to cut right hand trim to the complete wrong length. Bit of caulk there later.

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I cut the bookshelf components to size too

DAY 5

Today. I got a start on the finish. To begin, the bookshelves to sit fore and aft. Now these have a ~970mm span and will take some books so required housings at the bare minimum. I used my guide bushing and housing jig. I don't have an adjustable jig as I pretty much only do 18mm housings.

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The bookshelves are on the larger side, they're over 1300mm tall but seem strong enough I think. Were certainly very large in person sat on the drive, and got even bigger as I tried wrestling them up the stairs.

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jpor4180

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As it was just me moving them around, I decided to put the 6mm backing on in the bedroom

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After constructing both bookcases. I made an 'H' frame and nailed a 6mm sheet to that. The frame only needed to support the 6mm on the front and in the centre as the top and bottom would be supported by the bookshelves, and the back was supported by both the H frame and the window header.

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Last order of the day was a bit of a box in of the frame between the bookshelves and the window. I cut both sides to size but only nailed on the RHS as the panel on the left of the window is going to have the socket that used to sit near floor level moved onto it.

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I used a router and hand plane to bring the pieces roughly flush (I cut all the window sections slightly oversized to come back and fix later as I knew if I tried to get that bevel cut at the exact width I'd never get it right).


Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any improvements to the methods or design!
 

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jpor4180

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Before I start, I noticed that this particular WIP has not accrued any interest. If you happen to be stopping by, please leave a comment if you can - especially if you aren't so interested in this then I can tailor future posts accordingly

I can't really remember how I left this back in mid-March but I got a moment today (well I used the time that should have been spent on the chopping boards, as I'm not enjoying that one). At some point in the last month I got a double gang of sockets with USB ports and also a TV arial installed in the section I had left open. The bed enclosed a TV arial, and while she said she didn't need it I felt it was one of those things it's better to have just incase there's a change of mind.

I added fluted posts to the lower cabinets and covered the top of them. I added a nautically themed opening to the bed itself where it leads in with a 45degree drop by other bookcase. This also adds to the whole ensconced feeling of the bed. I hope.

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What I will say is this is a difficult piece to photograph. I'm as far back as I can get to take the photos but still don't get much in the shot

Things to add:
Crown molding above the bed
Dado rail following the lines of the taffrail (Google's suggestion of this nautical handrail)
Small lipping at the top of the fluted columns (to conceal lack of flushness as much as anything)
Column bases

And of course, a few coats of paint. I'm picking up a Fuji sprayer (undecided on Q4 or Q5 as yet) in the next two months. Will be painted as and when I've bought that

I do have a question for you:
What do you do when you have an alcove unit/window seat or storage that contains a radiator? do you just build round it, take it off and refit once cabinet is in place much like a socket, or box it off and ask the client never to use it again (as I did in this instance)?
 

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Woodchips2

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I would have removed the radiator and refitted it elsewhere in the room. If you leave it in place and it develops a leak in the future a) would you know the rad is leaking and b) how could you deal with the leak.

Interesting WIP, well done.

Regards Keith
 

Just4Fun

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jpor4180":xiuyutw3 said:
What do you do when you have an alcove unit/window seat or storage that contains a radiator? do you just build round it, take it off and refit once cabinet is in place much like a socket, or box it off and ask the client never to use it again (as I did in this instance)?
So you took the radiator out of use? T0 me that seems the worst of all possible solutions. You still have the risk of there being a leak at some point in the future and not being able to deal with it, plus you have to think of some other method of heating for that room. Like Woodchips2, I would have removed the radiator and refitted it elsewhere in the room.

How did you decide on the height of the bed? It seems to be higher than many modern beds. I recently modified a bed for someone who has had an artificial hip fitted and wanted a taller bed to avoid having to crouch to get into bed, and make it easier to get out of bed. I don't know why beds tend to be getting closer to the floor.
 

jpor4180

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Thank you for commenting, it's an issue that's been bugging me the radiator and it does seem I've made a mistake. My sister has never used the radiator so it stays off, it didn't occur to me that it could leak (or maybe it did and I just didn't want to think about the hassle!)

It strikes me that if I were doing this for a client, I'd have to insist they replace the radiator with underfloor heating in such an instance, or one of those small space saving radiators. I'm pleased I found this out now, as a work colleague has asked for a window seat but he's got a radiator in the alcove.

The height of the bed is quite an adventure, and I'm 6'3! She keeps her rabbit in her room - rather than outdoors - and she wanted it to be this high so he didn't jump on her bed anymore and wee all over it! Access is via a step stool that's out of shot in the photos. The benefit of it being this high is that once you're up there it's an easy transition to the window seat

Anyone bought the fuji Q4 or Q5? A bit of lacquer spraying but mainly spraying mdf. My understanding is that the Q4 with the 3M PPS system is more than enough for anyone but it strikes me that once you're paying that much you might as well opt for the Q5. Noise is also a concern though, as my paint shop is going to be under a pergola style booth in the garden which is semi open
 

Brandlin

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+1 for moving the rad.

You might consider replacing it with a heater in the plinth... like you get under kitchen units?
Not sure ifthis would be suitable under a bed though - it would be a bit like under mattress heating.
 

ColeyS1

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Apologies if I've got the wrong end of the stick, but won't it be a bit odd having the matress and bedding showing through the window ? Will the glass need to be toughened incase it takes a bump ?

Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
Edit...ah, it's a window seat- gotcha
 

jpor4180

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I'm not sure actually, I'll ask my sister if it's weird for her. Our windows are reasonably difficult to see into unless it's dark out and the light's on inside

The mattress is a good 400mm or so from the window as there's a window seat. I did tell her the day I made the window seat not to lean up against the window and I came back 15minutes later and there she was leaning against the window. If she learns the hard way by defenestrating herself, that's on her tbh
 

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