Recreating Grown Kids’ Bedrooms: Thrifty, King-sized Solutions

When our girls moved out of the family home, they took their bedroom furniture with them. My husband, Kerry, and I knew they would need these pieces starting out, so we invested in them years ago and were fine to see them go. We chose mahogany antique reproduction Hepplewhite and Duncan Phyfe pieces from antiques stores because they were sturdy and well made, slender with little embellishments and clean lines. And they were affordable! Only one daughter got a “matching” bed. The other two had an iron bed painted green and a tufted headboard Kerry and I built.

As one by one the girls emptied their belongs as they started new lives, I set about the task of refurnishing rooms to remain mostly uninhabited (save occasional grown children’s visits or real company). And, as a decorator married to someone who would be content to sleep on mattresses on the floor, I contemplated the new task that fell to me. Actually I could hardly call it a task at all. Maybe an exhilarating design challenge or a hobbyist’s dream?

I couldn’t see replacing the dressers and chests because they would sit unused, awaiting visitors who surely would not stay long enough to crack open a drawer, and I certainly didn’t want to substitute double beds. I wanted to plan for sons-in-law and grandchildren someday and recognized that they would prefer king-sized beds just like Kerry and me. So, the search was on for new king beds. Three of them. (Chairs too, but that is a story for later.)

Over time I found that buying a king-sized bed was downright daunting. Vintage, like the girls’ bedroom furniture, wouldn’t work; people didn’t have king beds when antique reproductions were made (circa 1920s – 1950s). Yet, I sought slender vintage lines. Every furniture store I visited had king-sized beds, surely, but they were MASSIVE. Huge headboards and footboards were punctuated by ginormous posts rising up to formidable heights or to short and stumpy lows. Now these were beautiful but just not for me.

For both images see http://www.kobigal.com/choose-king-size-bedroom-sets-for-comfortable-bedroom/king-size-beds-best/

 

Some king beds were sleek and mid-century in larger places like Nashville. But these didn’t fit our house either.

Credit: Nikada E+ Getty Images

I just wanted simple beds that suited large enough rooms but didn’t take center stage in the rooms. (I really am weary of some designers’ and decorators’ obsession with “focal points” in rooms.) These beds would have to fit in with hodgepodge furniture cobbled from deceased relatives (and too sentimental to give away) and the many books our girls’ didn’t have room for in their new homes. In other words, I didn’t want massive beds to overshadow artwork and collectibles or to overwhelm nicely sized but not massive rooms.

After months (and temporary bed frames to get the mattresses off the floor), I found the first headboard at a little creative shop called The Spotted Cow (www.thespottedcowtn.com) in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. It was painted black and was boring, but it would do because it had removable finials. My creative mind whirled at the prospect of giving the bed character with finials of my own design. When I got the bed home, I scoured Etsy for the person to create for me and found Lance Long of OldeWorldCarvings (https://www.etsy.com/shop/OldeWorldCarvings?ref=profile_shopname). His work would be perfect!

The bed fit in just fine, but it needed something.
Close-up of finial
To order the correct size finials, the carver, Lance Long, required the correct base in order for the new finials to fit. So I measured and photographed the finials. Luckily, these were screwed in and came out easily for measuring. Having the correct screw size required a little help from my husband who guided me.

I decided on birds because they are the perfect size and shape for finials. And, here on the farm, we love birds. For Claire’s room, I chose the robin and the mockingbird, both creatures that make their homes here on the farm. The bases for the birds are of course green–my favorite color. Each girl’s room is welcoming of green. In fact, something green is at home in each room of our house.

American robin perched downward
Northern mockingbird perched downward
Now the headboard has a purpose: a perch for Tennessee birds! At left is a robin (a frequent visitor on the farm) and on the right is a mockingbird (Tennessee’s State Bird).

 

An option is to turn the birds so that their shape helps the eyes flow across the headboard.

The second bed came months later from the same shop! It, too, was black but boasted 4 posts with boring finials. I set Lance Long up to design four more birds–a wood thrush, an Eastern bluebird, a Carolina wren, and an Eastern towhee. Catherine’s room would be filled with more birds that habit our beloved farm.

Finials for poster bed. Note the difference in these and the first beds’. Instead of a screw to join the finials to the posts, these involved 1/4″ wooden dowels and and a 1″ base. Again, the carver required these specifications so that the new finials could be installed.
New birds for 4 poster bed–a Carolina wren, an Eastern towhee, an Eastern bluebird, and a wood thrush. Notice that these birds have a different perching position–sitting upright.
Catherine’s room with birds a’perching

The last bed for Annelise’s room we found on a fantastic trip to Miramar Beach in Sandestin, when Kerry and I ended up thrifting and browsing second-hand stores. We discovered Ava’s Attic (www.avasatticindestin.com) and the perfect 4 poster bed. Not too large. Not too small. Just right and pretty enough to keep its plain finials. (See http://emilyweatherskennedy.com/our-spot-on-the-beach/ for this story.)

Annelise’s “just right” bed from Ava’s Attic

For anyone decorating with king-sized beds, don’t lose hope for the perfect one. Think outside-the-box and re-create one–even one you already own! And, don’t listen to the “experts” at furniture stores and design centers when they opine that 4 poster beds and the like are out of style. Here’s a hint: classics don’t go out of style. They might get mixed into a hodgepodge of other things, but they can always be loved in a room using a little creativity.

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