RE: Adjusting a period design for a modern mattress

David Conley

Well-known member
Everyone,

I am designing a king size pencil post bed and I am looking for some help with modern mattresses.  The mattress height will be approximately 22 inch (8” box, 14” mattress). 

So the question is how do I adjust the design to fit the tall mattress? 

I assume that it would be the relationship between the top of the mattress to the head and foot board.  In which case, I can use bed irons to lower the mattress height.  I could also raise the head board to accommodate the tall mattress. 

Another related question: How high should the top of the mattress be off of the floor?

Thanks in advance,
David
 

John McAlister

Well-known member
Dave, I built a king size pencil post bed. I heard that a pencil post in king size would be out of proportion but we think ours looks good. I'll give you the dimensions on ours; don't know whether they're proper or not.
Floor to top of mattress: 30''  Comfortable to get in and out of.
Floor to top of side rail:  17"
Spring:                            5 1/2"
Mattress:                        14"
Top of mattress to high point headboard:  19"
No foot board.
Wish I knew how to attach a picture. Will send picture by email.
John McAlister

 

David Conley

Well-known member
John,

Your design is really close to what my wife wants. 

I have attached the picture you sent me.  The website has a 164K limit on pictures and your image was a lot sharper (larger) than that.  I reduced it so it could be posted.

Thanks,
David
 

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hermv2000

Well-known member
Mine is not a pencil post bed, and its queen size, but I eliminated the box spring as I feel it is not necessary and does not give a period look to the bed.  So, you could consider eliminating the box spring and just go with a quality mattress.  I've had mine for 10 years without a box spring and have no complaints.  The top of the mattress is about 32 inches off the floor, again more in keeping with period styles.

A picture can be seen at      www.veenendaal-period-furniture.blogspot.com
 

msiemsen

Well-known member
This is true, you could loose the box spring and go with a slat system. You would need a central support on a bed that wide.
Mike
 

Antiquity

Well-known member
Dave,

I have made approx. 100 beds over 23 years and most were made without a box spring, just a mattress.  I use 9 slats of 1 x 8 pine running crosswise from head to foot.  A notched cleat is screwed to each side rail to accept the slats. A support bar under the cleats running head to foot must be used to help support these cleats. 

I fine this method to be just as comfortable and strong as using a b/S.  No customer has ever complained.  And yes, it does give a more period look.  However, your wife will now have to dust under the bed!

Dennis Bork
Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.
 

Jeff L Headley

Well-known member
David,
Please realize today's bed are a different creature then our period counterpoints and a King size bed is there again a completely different beast.  Today's King size beds require a center rail to support two (longer than normal) twin box springs, although it is great for separating restless sleeping partners. The first thing I would do is go to where you are purchasing the box spring and mattress and get their requirements for supporting your brand new$$$ box spring and mattress. Many if not most require a certain dimension frame made out of a certain dimension lumber and at least 5 or more slats to maintain a warranty. Many require a center leg also. I speak from experience in dealing with a brand name mattress companies. If you have any simple problem, even cosmetic, they can void the warranty if the frame is not up to THEIR standards. They are extremely questionable on hand made and period beds. My clientele is extremely demanding. If you ever have any problem with an expensive mattress the fine print will void your warranty unless it is followed to the letter!!!
Also check to see if it is a California Kings size as they are longer than the standard King size.
David please e-mail me or call me for more ideas.
I love building beds and if they could only talk the stories they would tell.
I wish you and yours the bestest! of holidays.
 

David Conley

Well-known member
Everybody,

Thanks for the advise!! 

Jeff, hear you on major mattress manufacturers and their warranty.    About 5 years ago, my wife and I decided to splurge and buy a really nice, queen size, Stearns and Foster mattress and I think we paid $1700 for it (retailed price $2400).  For the first six weeks, it was like a dream.  Then it started to sag.  After about 9 months, the sag was visible.  We called in the retailer to check it out and they told us that it had an “unloaded” sag of 1-1/4”, but the warranty would not kick in until the unloaded sag was over 1-1/2”.  After 18 months, the unloaded sag was still 1-1/4”, but the sag with me and my wife on it was so bad, and the lack of support made the mattress was so uncomfortable that we gave the mattress to a local battered wives shelter just to get rid of it.  (The mattress was OK for one person, just not two.)  For the replacement, my wife called the owner of a small, local mattress company in nearby Huntington, WV (Imperial Bedding Company) and he set us up with their top of the line mattress for about $1200 ($2000 retail).  It was also the first time we had ever talked to someone that ACTUALLY knew and explained the weak points of various designs and which mattress would work best for us.  Their mattress has been wonderful for us with no degradation with time.  I said all of this to setup the point that I really trust this guy and whatever support Imperial Bedding Company says they need for their mattresses, I will provide.  When it comes to beds, I highly prefer comfort over good looks. 

As far as the design, I will try and have the box springs/bottom support system at least one inch below the top of the side boards so the mattress will not be able to slide around.  Also, my wife would like to put a bed ruffle underneath the box springs/bottom support system on a curtain rail.  I figured the ruffle will take an inch of height.  I have several rough 12” rip sawn boards and hope to get two 10” wide side boards out of them.  I have even thought of making the frame a little oversize to allow the bed ruffle hardware to be hidden behind by the side rail, and let the mattress hang below the side rails by pushing the bed irons out with spacers.

Jeff, good catch on the California vs regular King sizes.  The company uses standard King size 76" x 80".

Still having fun designing this piece,
David
 

Michael Armand

Active member
Dave.
        I have built quite a few beds and modified beds from queen to king size and a simple solution to king is to build a bunk board to fit under the mattress. Wooden supports on the rails on each side and definetly a center support from head to foot to stop sagging. The bunk board can be constructed from 3/4 ply with a 3/4 frame running around the outside. The inside can be covered with cotton or 1" foam and covered with Muslin or denim. This makes it about 1-1/2 inches thick. You can also use the metal (L) brackets on the rails insead of the wooden supports if you prefer. The center support can be a length of wood with large dovetails on the end that fit into a support brace an the head and foot..    Good Luck and Merry Christmas.. Mike,  [email protected]
 

John McAlister

Well-known member
David; Now that we're telling "sagging mattress" stories; I have one of my own. This was before I built our Pencil Post. I had gotten to know Sealy's district sales manager pretty well and, through him, Eugenia and I bought one of their top of the line, Posturepedic mattresses, with a cushioned top and all the other whistles and bells. After about 6 months, the mattress, though wonderfully comfortable, developed a pretty deep sag on each side; making the middle high by probably and inch--inch and a half. One day this Sealy guy was visiting and we showed him the bed; made up but with the sags and high middle noticeably visible. Without a second's hesitation, he commented that "obviously you and Eugenia are not spending enough time in the middle!". That was sorta the end of that conversation!  He did later tell how to almost eliminate the sags. It involved fairly frequent turning of the mattress!.

Back to the Pencil Post: I did use a center support, with a middle leg, fastened to the head and foot rails with hardware from Rockler (! think ). The bedspread comes down on the side to just below the top of the rails, and Eugenia fixed a dust ruffle, fastened to the bottom of the rails with velcro, reaching to the floor. Not traditional perhaps but creating pretty convenient storage space and no dusting under the bed. If I can take any digital shots of any detail let me know. Look forward to seeing you in Williamsburg.

John McA.
 

David Conley

Well-known member
John,

My wife read the information sheets that came with the mattress, and she was adamant about flipping the mattress every couple of weeks.  She believes manuals should be read from cover to cover, BEFORE using things.  I remember when we bought her first new car, she did not want to leave the dealership until she had finished reading the manual. 

Attaching a bed ruffle to the rails with Velcro is an eloquent solution.  It is fast, easy, low tech, and needs very little space to install.  Thanks!! 

Michael, I concur with your suggestion about using a bunk board.  We have been using a ¾ inch plywood sheet for a very long time.  It really helps to reduce the sagging.

I have also been thinking about the design of the bed and how to beef up the center support.  Then it hit me.  This bed uses two twin box springs.  This means, there is a separation between the box springs where I can add a third vertical rail between the head and foot boards.  The top of the center rail just has to be low enough that it will not protrude past the box springs when loaded, say 1-1/2 inches below the top of the box springs.  Then if I add in two center support legs to the center rail, the frame support should be excellent.

Merry Christmas!!
David
 

pampine

Well-known member
I moved to good quality futons (without those lousy frames) 30 years ago, haven't regretted it for a moment, excellent support. It beat moving to Japanese tools by 20 years or so. :)

And it sure is cheaper than thousands.

Pam
 

David Conley

Well-known member
Pam,

My wife and I want the overall appearance of a period piece. 

But, I am willing to make adjustments for comfort, say: King size, thick mattress with a pillow top, structural frame support, ...

Cheers,
David
 

Jeff L Headley

Well-known member
David, Make sure when you make your headboard that you set it 2"- 3" below the top of the mattress or it will eat your pillows as a snack at night while you're sleeping. Much more than that is a waist of good lumber unless you plan on changing the bed height someday.
 

pampine

Well-known member
David Conley said:
Pam,

My wife and I want the overall appearance of a period piece. 

Ah, I didn't say enough. Depending on the period you want to approximate, it may well be that a high quality cotton futon would better represent that period.

Pam
 

David Conley

Well-known member
Pam,

I am not familiar with futons and your suggestion would probably produce a more period look.

However, I will be building the bed frame for a specific mattress and box springs.  I am a little hesitant to try something new, now that I have found something that works. 

Even though my wife is light, I have a large frame at 6’3” and 240lbs and my mass seems to just breakdown the mattresses.  That is also the reason why the owner at Imperial Bedding Company suggested the mattress that he did. 

Cheers,
David
 
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