DIY Mid-Century Modern Inspired Bed

3 Days

Today, I'm sharing a tutorial for a queen size mid-century modern inspired bed. This bed was inspired by one at CB2. Theirs is $899 and my husband and I made this one for $175.
I hope you love it as much as we do!
*This tutorial is very lengthy. If you would like to see more pictures of each step, please visit my blog.
*For disclosure purposes, we are not carpenters or extremely skilled at building projects. So, this tutorial has worked for us but we wanted to share that we are learning as we go and what worked for us may/may not work for you. Thanks!
1. Gather your Supplies
For the bed frame you will need:
(2) Pine 1″ x 4″ x 8′
(6) Pine 1″ x 4″ x 6′
(2) Pine 1″ x 8″ x 8′
(2) Pine 1″ x 8″ x 6′
(8) 1″ x 3″ x 6′ Boards (cheap – for bed slats)
(25 ct. box ) #8 3″ Wood screws
(100 ct. box) #8 1 1/4″ Wood screws
(50 ct. box) #6 5/8″ Wood screws
(26 ct. box) 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ Dowel pins
(4) 2 1/4″ x 3/4″ Corner braces
(4) 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ Corner braces
(4) 1 3/4″ x 5″ Metal ties
Wood Glue
Wood Conditioner and Stain* (more on this at the end)

For Headboard you will need:
Upholstery Fabric (I used a rug)
Plywood (cut to 60 x 31 or to the size that you want)
Tools needed:
*Let me just say that we have a limited amount of tools. Once you read through our tutorial, feel free to modify it for the tools that you have. A router and Kreg Jig would have been amazing to have, but we don’t own those. So, some of the steps that we are showing for this tutorial are based on the tools that we do own.
Staple Gun
Miter Saw
Wood Clamps
Step 2:
We’re going to make a sturdy, rectangular box to build everything else off of. Use (2) 1″ x 4″ x 8′ boards for the long sides and (2) 1″ x 4″ x 6′ boards for the short sides. For the long sides, the inside edge of each board should be 71 11/16″ and then go out at 45 degrees to the outside edge. For the short sides, this inside edge should be 51 11/16″. Now, that we’ve got the pieces for the rectangle, we might as well cut the center support as well. Trim one end of another 1″ x 4″ x 6′ board to shorten it to 71 11/16″.
(Picture of step 2 continued)
Step 3: Assemble the Support System
We’ll join the 4 sides with dowel pins (again, biscuits or mortis and tenons would be better if you have the tools to use them), glue and 3″ wood screws. If you do have better tools, just use them to join the 4 boards into a rectangle and then use the large amount of time you saved to enjoy a beer.
Unless you are far better at guessing than I am, the first, and most important step, is to start by building a jig. I just used a couple of the end scraps from the boards I cut and a wood clamp. Use whatever you have on hand. You’re going to clamp the boards together so their edges are parallel but one board overlaps the other by 3/8″ (that should be exactly half the height of one of our boards). Next, put a pencil mark on the overlapping edge that is 1″ from the end of the board. Put a similar mark on the other side. When done, you’ll have a jig that will tell you exactly where the middle of your board is and exactly where 1″ from each side is.
Use the jig to mark 1″ in along the midline on each end of each 45 degree cut. At each mark, use a 1/4″ drill bit to drill about 5/8″ deep. Now that each 45 degree edge is prepped (you’ve done 8 of them now, right?) you’ll want to work through the rest one corner at a time.
Make sure your 1/4″ bit is handy along with wood glue and 4 more 3″ screws. I recommend fitting everything together and pre-drilling all of your holes before applying glue. You’ll need to drill in from the outside corner of one of the boards far enough to let the three inch bit reach into the joining board. How deep you need to drill depends on the placement of your dowel pins and where on the board you started to drill. Just be careful no to go too far. Once you’re ready, go ahead and apply a good amount of glue inside the holes we drilled for the dowel pins and to one face of the board (where it will meet the other board). Push everything together and then drill in the 3″ screw to hold it all tightly together while the glue dries.
The last part of assembling the support system is to attach the center support. Because all of the support system will be hidden below finish boards, you don’t need to worry much about any holes used to attach the pieces. Attach the middle support at the midpoint, between the two long sides. Use the 1/4″ bit to drill 2 holes on each side. They should go about half-way through to the inside starting from the outside edge. Apply wood glue and then use 3″ screws to secure everything.
Step 4: Attach the Finish boards
Time to make another rectangle. This time we’ll use (2) 1″ x 8″ x 8′ and (2) 1″ x 8″ x 6′ boards. These will make up most of the visible part of your bed frame, so make sure the wood has a look and grain that you like. Also, try not to mess up… 😉 All of these cuts will be straight cuts. The two long boards should be cut to exactly 88″. The shorter two to 53 3/4″. Next, we’re going to attach these boards to each other (to make the rectangle) and, also, attach the whole thing to the support system below it. It took me a little trial and error to figure out the easiest way to get it all together. I’ll talk you through what I did, but feel free to take a different route if you want to.
Using the jig from the previous step, we’ll start by marking out where our dowel pins need to go. They’ll go along the centerline again. You probably can re-use the same marks you put on the jig last time (1″ from each side). Mark and drill out 1/4″ holes for the pins and make sure everything fits together well. Once everything is together (without glue yet), mark out where the short boards should go. The support system should show about an inch inside each edge of the finished rectangle, but it doesn’t need to be exact. As long as there is some overlap and the overlap is even on each opposite side, it should work fine.
Once you know everything is in place, you’ll want to screw and glue the short boards in place from the top. Use the 1 1/4″ wood screws but be careful to keep them close to the inside edge of the boards. If you go further out than 1/4″, your mattress will not cover the screws. Once the short boards are glued and screwed in place, you’ll want to glue the dowel pins and ends of the short boards where they meet the long boards. Additionally, glue the top of the support system where the long boards will sit. With all of that glued, place the long boards and then secure them with 1 1/4″ screws (like you did with the short boards). Again, be careful to keep the screws towards the inner edge of the bed frame so your mattress will hide them.
I used the one 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ corner braces to make sure the finished boards were held tightly to each other. I also used 1 3/4″ x 5″ metal ties underneath each of the corner connections to add a little stability.
Step 5: Make the Headboard
The headboard is really simple. I followed the same steps as I did when I made our headboard in our master bedroom. Basically, have your plywood cut to size (I had mine cut to 60″ x 31″). Gather up foam (I used random pieces that I had from other projects) and staple foam onto plywood. You could probably skip that step if you had one sheet of foam but since I had multiple pieces, I needed to staple mine in.
Place your fabric (or in my case a rug) with the print to the floor and put headboard foam side down on the fabric. Fold over fabric and staple around, pulling tight as you go.
Once you have finished the headboard, set it aside.
Step 6: Attach the Headboard
To make and assemble the support arms for the headboard, I’ll give you the measurements and angles I used, but I think your best off using the angles as a rough guide and making your own measurements. How thick of fabric and plywood you used, how much foam you used and other minor differences will certainly through off the measurements and probable throw off the angles by a little bit as well. If you’re more careful with your cuts than me, you might be able to cut both arms with one 1″ x 4″ x 6′ board. The top, long edge of the arm should be exactly 33″. The angle where it meets the base of the bed frame is 45 degrees. The top angle is 45 degrees the opposite way with the top corner cut off to make the back edge 3 1/2 “.
The support that connects the two arms and runs along the back of the headboard is just a simple 1″ x 4″ x 6′ board trimmed down to 62.5″. Before attaching the arms to the frame of the bead, I attached the arms to each other using the 62.5″ board. You’ll probably need an extra hand for this part. We held everything in place, headboard included, and then tacked the boards to each other using finish nails. Once you’re happy with the positioning, use 1 1/4″ screws to hold the support to the arms. Next, we removed the headboard and one of us held the arms and support in place while the other went under the bed and screwed into the arms from the underside of the frame. The 3″ screws are best for this job, but you’ll need to measure (and then re-measure) the placement because it will be hard to cover up an extra screw hole at this part of the frame.
Step 7: Make Your Slats
Cut eight slats for your bed at 53 1/2″ using the 1″ x 3″ x 6′ boards.
These will not need to be screwed down. Just lay them over the support boards and you are good to go.
Step 8: Make the Legs
Depending on what length boards you were able to buy (we had to buy a couple 1″ x 4″ x 8′ boards because our store was out of the 6′ lengths) you might have enough scrap wood to make the legs without buying more. You could also, easily, customize the length of your legs based on what you have on hand or what you think looks good. We used (8) 15″ lengths leftover from various 1″ x 4″ boards we had on hand. Decide what length you want to use and start by cutting one board with opposite 45 degree angles on each end. Use this board as your template for all of your other cuts. This will give you a more consistent result than measuring will. Use wood glue and 1 1/4″ screws to attach pairs of the boards together to make them thicker and more sturdy. You’ll need to make sure you end up with two different sets of legs so the outside of each leg looks clean and doesn’t show screw heads. I paired up all of my cuts and then placed big X’s on the inside of each leg to make sure I got it right.
Step 9: Attach the Legs
The legs are one part of the bed that I’m not 100% happy with. I love how they look, but I had to use four different techniques to attach them in order to get enough strength. First things first, make sure you’ve marked out well where you want the legs to go. Ours our 13 3/4″ from the front and back edges of the bed frame. Find the look you like, mark it out and then use your trusty jig (again) to mark where dowel pins should go. The pins will go from the top of the leg into the bottom of the finished frame boards (1″ x 8″). Be careful not to drill to far into the underside of the frame (a bit stop would be useful here). With dowels in place, check the fit of the leg and, if it’s good, use an appropriate bit for the 1 1/4″ screws and pre-drill two holes from the outside edge of the leg into the outer edge of the support system. I also pre-drilled a hole, sunk in using the 1/4″ bit, from the underside of the leg (when attached) to the underside of the finished board. I used a 1 1/4″ screw to check that my hole wasn’t deep enough to let the screw puncture through the top of the frame. Now that all of that is ready, glue the dowel and edge of the leg, slide it into place and screw in the 1 1/4″ screw that goes from the underside of the leg into the frame. Once that’s in place, use (2) 1 1/4″ screws to screw from the outer edge of the leg in. After all of that, I wasn’t happy with the strength of the legs so I used (4) 2 1/2″ x 3/4″ corner brackets to secure the inside of the leg to the underside of the frame.
We haven’t stained our wood, because I can’t decide on the color. But, because we used Pine and it’s a soft wood it needs to be stained. To get a better finish, apply wood conditioner and then stain. I will update you all on this part once I finally decide what stain I want to use.
So, major props to you if you have stuck around this long! Whew, that was a long tutorial. I hope you liked it and if you try it, let us know! Or, if you try it and make it better… we’d love to know that as well!

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Deb Lynne
    on Aug 18, 2018

    you had a link to a rug in your tutorial. Which rug is it? As the link didn't take me to a specific rug. thanks in advance.

Join the conversation

3 of 64 comments
  • Em
    on Jul 13, 2017

    My first thoughts were the same. Oh it's lovely, Oh my shins hurt.

  • Carol Z
    on Sep 27, 2017

    I really love what you did...i know it's simple woods, but its sexy and kind of has a luxury feel to it! You softened it nicely with your bedding. Really great job! It makes me feel like I'd love to sleep on that! Awesome.
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