Minimalist "mid-century modern"-type bed frame?
July 6, 2013 10:38 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a full-size platform bed frame with the following criteria:
  • Dark wood
  • "Slim" design
  • Low headboard
  • Solid wood materials (no fiberboard crap)
  • Less than $1,000

Here are some examples I can't afford: I have exhausted every possible online and offline store I know or could find via Google. I find plenty of bed frames in my price range, just not that particular style. The closest I have come is Muji, which has a good-looking $550 bed frame, but it only comes in a light-coloured wood.

I could have it custom built, but a good cabinetmaker is going to charge more than $1,000 for such a project.

I am in New York, if it matters.
posted by gentle to Shopping (40 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Room and Board might get you close. But, realistically, anything stylish that isn't particleboard is going to cost you. Good luck!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:02 PM on July 6, 2013

Thanks, but they don't have anything in that price range, and their beds aren't really in that style. (Wood is more expensive than particleboard, but not that expensive; an abstract notion of "high end design" is primarily what adds to the price, aside from craftsmanship.)
posted by gentle at 11:07 PM on July 6, 2013

You might take another look. Or not. But the Anders, Calvin and Sherwood beds, at least, look similar in style, and they are close to or within your $1K limit. Good luck!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 PM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was at Room & Board yesterday, actually. Their beds are really bulky when you see them up close. The Anders has a semi-slim headboard, but the legs are fat; the Calvin has somewhat slimmer legs, but the headboard is very high; the Sherwood is more reminiscent of a shaker bed. And so on. Not my style at all. But I appreciate the effort.
posted by gentle at 11:17 PM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about the Dondra bed at CB2? It looks similar to some of the designs you linked to and it's clearly made of real wood.
posted by eisenkr at 11:17 PM on July 6, 2013

The Dondra, sadly, is very bulky and has such a low profile that you can't store anything under it. Also, CB2 only has queen/king beds, not full-sized ones.
posted by gentle at 11:18 PM on July 6, 2013

Your Muji link doesn't work, but maybe you could consider getting that one and refinishing it or having someone refinish it with a dark stain?
posted by lollusc at 11:30 PM on July 6, 2013

Correct Muji link. It's oiled ash; refinishing would be an option, of course, but a bit more work than I am considering right now. As a last resort, maybe.
posted by gentle at 11:33 PM on July 6, 2013

Try searching for "case study bed replica" or "danish mid century bed replica". There are a few sites around which do replicas to get you under the $1000 mark.

However, I would suggest you don't discount the idea of having the bed custom-made. I got a bed custom-made six years ago. In my case it is a king-size, and fully upholstered, and it cost just over $1000. Without the upholstery, and in full instead of king, I think you could do it.
posted by Joh at 12:05 AM on July 7, 2013

Struggling to find anything under $1000 in that style, even used on eBay.

I think your best best is to buy the Muji bed and get it stained a different colour.
posted by dave99 at 1:00 AM on July 7, 2013

West Elm's Mid-Century bed might fit the bill. I own a nightstand from that collection and it's a good mix of affordability and quality.
posted by deinemutti at 1:13 AM on July 7, 2013

I build furniture.

FWIW, that Miles & May model is not solid wood. It might not be particleboard underneath, but it's veneer over some sort of engineered substrate. I'd also tell you to steer clear of the Case Study, even if you could afford it; it's not solid wood either (decent plywood, though), and the spring support system they're using is junk. I also think it crosses the aesthetic line from "slim" into "not even there." If there's so little wood that you can't see the bed frame when you've got a mattress, blanket and pillows on it, what's the point? Grab a cheap steel frame and be done with it. I love Danish modern, and Danish modern is typically slender, but even thinner! isn't always better.

Wood is more expensive than particleboard, but not that expensive; an abstract notion of "high end design" is primarily what adds to the price, aside from craftsmanship.

It's a little more complicated than that. The methods for working with solid wood are totally different, and generally require more human time and attention. The joinery is more demanding too, especially where small parts must support relatively large structural loads. The Simple Hi is really simple, but the Woodrow and the two by the Etsy seller are a lot more time consuming to make than any particleboard box. Peet Deeble isn't getting rich off of this stuff.

I can't tell from the pictures how well the joinery is done, but the Muji bed does look like a decent deal *if* you can get them to send it to you unfinished so that you can stain it yourself, and *if* you don't intend to sit up in bed a lot. The thin sticks that stand in for a headboard would flex if you put much weight on them, which would not be good for the frame's longevity. Probably not very comfortable for your back, either.
posted by jon1270 at 3:32 AM on July 7, 2013 [10 favorites]

For what it's worth, the furniture in the Muji store in San Francisco at least is unfinished wood.
posted by amileighs at 3:48 AM on July 7, 2013

Since some of your choices aren't solid wood, I thought I'd link you to this dark, $350 platform bed (made from composite wood). We bought a king size one when we bought our house in 2009, and it's been perfect with our DIY headboard.
posted by Kronur at 3:57 AM on July 7, 2013

stria bed from west elm $999 for a full.

oh boy, you're looking for a needle in a haystack. you might want to find out what month beds usually go on sale at stores and shop then. maybe you could get a deal somewhere.
posted by wildflower at 4:14 AM on July 7, 2013

alsa bed from overstock for $425 rubber wood. there are quite a few on overstock. i don't know if you need a membership to buy from them or what.

queen size beds are easier to find and more standard so i'd go with that.
posted by wildflower at 4:32 AM on July 7, 2013

My dad is a woodworker who does custom orders all the time and it's a lot less expensive than you might think. I'd suggest talking to a few woodworkers outside of the metro area (they'll be less expensive) and asking for quotes. Old guys, like my dad, may not have websites but can be found through fine art/craft shows. (I'd give you my pop's info, but he's in FL and shipping would bust your budget.)
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:37 AM on July 7, 2013

The Dondra bed frame from CB2 looks fairly similar to your second example, solid teak and mango wood., 899 to 999$

Bah, sorry-- noticed someone else mentioned this on re-reading. Ignore me.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:08 AM on July 7, 2013

Maybe something from Dania?
posted by carmicha at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2013

Hi, I own the bed you want; my mother gave it to me. It was hers when she was a young woman in the 1950s. I suggest hitting the thrift/used furniture shops in your area (outside the city seems better) and looking for the right bed.
posted by immlass at 8:42 AM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Since price matters, you can find a solid wood sleek modern low profile bed with a low headboard at ikea. I have owned the Fjellse, $49.99. It is a fine bed with room for storage under the mattress. It is solid pine. You could re-stain the wood a dark color easily. See also Tarva, $129.00. It is unfinished solid pine which would make staining it a dark color even easier.

Ikea gets a bad reputation because they do make a lot of super cheap fiberboard things that hold together with plastic pins. If you assemble it correctly the solid wood furniture from Ikea is not junk.
posted by steinwald at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2013

Your DWR bed reminds me of the Ikea "Nyvoll" bedframe I currently have, and the Simple Hi one reminds me of the Malm. The Ikea ones aren't as pretty but they're certainly affordable.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:55 AM on July 7, 2013

West Elm: The "mid century modern" bed is not bad, but the headboard is huge. I have also been told that the quality of their furniture isn't great.

Overstock: The Alsa bed is way too stocky and chunky. Not what I have in mind at all, sorry.

Dania: The Nordby might have worked, but it only comes in black.

IKEA: No. Just no. If you think their stuff looks similar then I don't know what to say! (Malm and Nyvoll are both fiberboard, by the way.)

It's a little more complicated than that. ...

Of course. Although what you just wrote is what I meant by "craftsmanship". Pete Deeble's furniture in particular is obviously meticulously, exquisitely handcrafted, and it goes way beyond what I am asking for. I included the beds to show the general aesthetic I am looking for more than the expense behind it. Plywood, by the way, is okay.

Getting a bed frame hand-made is a last resort at this point. I am moving into a new apartment in one week and I have no bed frame yet. I don't to be sleeping on a frameless mattress for a month before I can get a finished bed.

Case Study ... crosses the aesthetic line from "slim" into "not even there."

I have to disagree. I don't load my bed up with tons of stuff, so the frame and headboard would definitely be visible, and of course the V legs are beautiful.
posted by gentle at 10:03 AM on July 7, 2013

and of course the V legs are beautiful.

Maybe that's your thing, but keep in mind that they would also destroy any hardwood floor they were placed on.
posted by jon1270 at 10:24 AM on July 7, 2013

I love Danish modern …

I forgot to say that the Case Study was designed by George Nelson, so it's properly an American mid-century piece. You're right about the legs, of course.
posted by gentle at 11:55 AM on July 7, 2013

Argh. This bed would be perfect except that there is no headboard!

What about this Saffron bed from Stacks and Stacks?
posted by misha at 12:03 PM on July 7, 2013

Saffron bed: Sadly, the headboard is too high, and I don't like the panel-style headboard design, which is really a throwback to "early century" rather than "mid century".
posted by gentle at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2013

Sorry, I guess I picked up the Danish idea from another comment rather than your original question.

I don't like the panel-style headboard design, which is really a throwback to "early century" rather than "mid century"

A little more insight from a craft perspective: The reason midcentury stuff was able to get away from frame-and-panel construction for larger flat parts is that that's when commercial plywood became widely available. Frame and panel is primarily a way of controlling and working with the natural expansion and contraction of solid wood as it moves with seasonal humidity changes; the frame stays the same size, and the panel is allowed to get larger and smaller within it, floating in a groove. So postwar plywood comes along, and it is dimensionally stable; there's no need to put it in a frame, and that opens up a whole bunch of design possibilities. The more recent stuff, where people imitate the look of midcentury plywood furniture but do it with solid wood is, in a sense, 'doing it wrong.' Those big solid-wood panels can cause a lot of problems because they move too much. Plywood is actually more appropriate for a lot of it.

But, that doesn't solve your shopping problem.
posted by jon1270 at 12:49 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's very interesting. Thanks for the background.
posted by gentle at 1:19 PM on July 7, 2013

If we sidestep the wood requirement for a moment, something like this would also work for me (though an actually usable headboard would be a requirement). (Would have to be unpainted metal. This Room & Board model is pretty good, but it's powder-coated.)
posted by gentle at 1:42 PM on July 7, 2013

...actually Room & Board has an stainless steel version. So that's an option, I guess.
posted by gentle at 2:00 PM on July 7, 2013

Okay, so I have found this TALL Tatami platform bed, in dark walnut, which is all hardwood, with an optional headboard. The full size goes for just a bit under $600, with free shipping. The headboards on the site I linked are all ~$200, so you would still come in under your price point if you liked any of them.
posted by misha at 2:30 PM on July 7, 2013

At that price point the Ebay/Craigslist route seems like it might offer you more bang for the buck.

This is in your price range even with shipping and pickup costs.

This one has no headboard but otherwise fits your requirements.

This one is not a platform but actually looks as if it would do better without a box spring with today's thicker mattresses, so some plywood across the bottom might do the trick.

I've bought moderately big-ticket and unwieldy vintage furniture on Ebay before and have had really good experiences--a lot of the vintage furniture sellers are very experienced with packing/shipping and will answer questions/send more photos as needed. They don't usually charge the absolute lowest prices but are located in areas of the country where they don't need to charge NYC-style prices so it evens out.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:32 PM on July 7, 2013

I have looked on eBay and Craigslist and have come up empty-handed so far. I did come across two of those you mention. (The boxy thing I didn't like, the other one has a bookcase at one end, not for me.) The Bauhaus bed is really cool, though — but it's a rare piece sold as an auction item; the seller mentions that it went for $4,000 on 1stdibs. I could try, but it seems a little doubtful that I would get it for much less.

misha: Not bad, but it's too chunky for me. Not a fan of the Asian style.
posted by gentle at 2:38 PM on July 7, 2013
posted by amileighs at 2:44 PM on July 7, 2013

jon1270, what do you think of this one, in terms of build quality? Solid wood, very heavy, should be decent.
posted by gentle at 2:48 PM on July 7, 2013

I don't know anything about the wood it's made of, and I can't tell how they did the joinery. The dimensions of the sticks that support the mattress look reasonable, and I like that they've got the platform split into two sections so that the cross-pieces are shorter. The headboard seems tall given your comment about the Saffron, and I don't like that they're only showing you one photo.
posted by jon1270 at 3:38 PM on July 7, 2013

Just came across these guys: The Bedworks of Maine. Hand-made ash beds with a choice of stains (eg., "walnut"). Prices below $1,000. Not too shabby.
posted by gentle at 3:39 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

jon1270, use the arrows to switch photos on that Fab page. From the look of it, this bed would be delivered at least partly assembled, not flat-packed? I don't think the headboard is that tall, considering there will be a mattress on top.
posted by gentle at 3:41 PM on July 7, 2013

Ah, I don't know how i missed those arrows. Anyhow, the main thing I notice from the close-ups is that it looks a little rough around the edges, which makes sense given the price. Carefully refined surfaces and a nice finish can double the amount of work on a piece of furniture, so there's a lot of savings in leaving it a bit rustic.

Construction-wise, it's probably put together almost entirely with dowels, which means its longevity is very dependent on the glue. Some exotic hardwoods can be difficult to glue, but like I said I don't really know anything about that particular wood. I wish I could say something more definitive about it, but I can't.
posted by jon1270 at 4:26 PM on July 7, 2013

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