Thursday, May 8, 2014

Building a Garden Daybed

Our completed daybed, and our cat's favorite new sitting space.
After clearing out a dense bamboo stand on the south side of our yard, we had to decide what to do with the 5 ft x 10 ft area that removing the stand opened up. I wanted additional seating and space for container plants, but didn't want to spend a ton of money. I found this idea for a bench on Pinterest made from cinderblocks and 4x4s and thought it looked like a great idea that we could put together in a weekend.

Before building our bench, I went in search of the perfect bench cushion. I wanted to pick the cushion out first so I could be sure to size the bench correctly and to make sure what should be a quick weekend project didn't get dragged out or left half done. I fairly quickly realized that cushions are either 1) flimsy and ugly, or 2) way more expensive than I was looking for. I decided to use an old futon we had, the kind that starts as a twin-sized mattress and folds into thirds. This meant we weren't really building a bench anymore, but a daybed. 

The "frame" had to be big enough for a standard twin mattress, or 38 inches wide and 75 inches long. This actually ended up fitting perfectly with the cinderblock ends being 5 block openings, or 40 inches, deep and the boards being 8 feet, or 96 inches, long-- long enough for 75 inches between the blocks, 8 inches on either side to run through the cinderblocks, and a few inches sticking out on each end. 

We made a few other changes from the version in Lena's blog. First of all, our bed has a cinderblock wall behind it. This is simply an upward continuation of the underground wall we built to keep the bamboo from spreading back over from our neighbor's yard, but we filled the openings in the blocks on top with potting soil and planted seeds for vining flowers that we're hoping will eventually cover the screen.

Our bed frame is 3 rows tall. In order to get 5 openings we did 2 full sized and 1 half sized blocks on each row, alternating the position of the half block to improve stability. In total we used 12 full sized blocks and 6 half blocks for the two sides. For the mattress base, we used 2x4s instead of 4x4s so the mattress would sit a little lower and because 2x4s were quite a bit cheaper and still strong enough to easily support the mattress and multiple sitting people. We turned the cinderblocks so the solid sides faced out on the lower rows to reduce the number of spider hideouts and make it easier to paint. The wide block sides provide plenty of places for potted plants as well as drinks.

I think the best idea we had was the mattress cover. We don't get a ton of rain here on the California central coast but we often get thick fog and light mist, and we needed to protect the mattress from moisture. I bought a mattress cover off of Amazon that zipped up to fully enclose the whole thing. It is designed for people with serious allergies and is both dustproof and waterproof, and has held up extremely well to our moderate climate. We do bring the mattress if it actually rains, but it stays outside 90% of the time. It's draped in an old, fairly sturdy tapestry which helps hide a great storage area underneath.

As soon as the bed was done, I realized it was one of the best parts of our yard. It's very comfortable, and I've definitely dozed off in the perfect partial shade that covers it during the afternoon. It's my favorite place to work on my laptop at home. The cat absolutely loves having a soft place to sleep that is still outside. Overall, it's a great, quick project, and I hope you like it!

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