Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Bed That Saved Our Marriage

It's a well-established scientific fact that houses get smaller the longer you live in them. This is particularly true if you're the sort of people who collect books and movies, and it's doubly true if you buy the house and then have children. After eight years and two kids, we were running out of room.

The traditional, all-American answer to this sort of problem is to move to a bigger house. So we loaded a lot of our stuff into a storage unit, threw out a lot of other stuff, and started trying to get our house cleaned and ready to sell.

Unfortunately, owing to combination of the local housing market, our work schedules, and the fact that small children can un-clean things much, much faster than anybody can possibly clean them, well... Moving didn't work for us. After a year of minimal progress and increasing frustration, my beautiful wife and I hit a tipping point: this wasn't working, and we needed to do something else. Specifically, we needed to make our current house livable -- not in terms of cleanliness or structural integrity, but in terms of having enough space and having our spaces arranged in ways that we could really use and enjoy.

One of the big obstacles to this was the master bedroom. There were two major problems there. First, because of the way the room was laid out, there was essentially no way to have a bed in there that didn't block off a big chunk of the room. Second, the bed that was there... had been taken over by our two elderly cats... who shed. A lot. As a result, we didn't use that room much, and that made our house even smaller than it actually was.

In order to get that space back, we needed a bed that:
A) Could be positioned in a way that didn't intrude on the rest of the room, and
B) The cats couldn't frolic on, and
C) Would fit in a room with an eight foot ceiling, which isn't all that high.

This is where Francis Lofts & Bunks came in. They build bunk beds (or, in our case, loft beds) for grown-ups. Real grown-ups. Heavy grown-ups. And they make them in grown-up sizes: ours is a queen. Even better, you can specify the ceiling height that your bed will fit under. And you can add other nifty options as well.

The bed we ordered was a queen loft for an eight-foot ceiling. In addition to the side rail that comes with the bed by default, we added a second side rail and another guard rail for the foot of the bed. Then we added the "bookshelf" option, which goes at the head of the bed. Then we paid our money, and waited for it to arrive.

We placed the order in late June. If memory serves, the bed actually arrived in late July. We assembled it immediately. Since it's now November, we've been using it for roughly the last four months. So, with that in mind, here's my review:

The Good: Almost everything. My beautiful wife and I were able to assemble the bed the evening that it arrived. The instructions were complete and thorough. The design uses exactly the same type of screw for everything, with the exception of (I think) the rail mounts... which are exactly the same width of screw, but slightly longer. The only reason we needed more than one hex wrench was so that both of us could tighten things at the same time.

Once assembled, the bed fit our needs perfectly. It's just the right height for our low ceilings. (Did I mention we have low ceilings?) It's frighteningly sturdy -- not only is the weight limit something like 2000 pounds, it doesn't move. I roll over, it doesn't move. I climb up the ladder and drop onto the mattress in a discombobulated heap of exhausted flesh, and it doesn't move. I swear, if we're ever caught in an earthquake, I am hiding under that bed. It's the strongest, most stable thing in the whole house. My beautiful wife has set up a little office-and-relaxation area under it, so that's more space that we get to use. The cats can't get up the ladder -- so far -- so the sheets aren't dirty mere minutes after we put them on. There's enough room on top of the bed to sit up or move around, and shelf makes a nice spot for alarm clocks, books, a flashlight, and a box of Kleenex.

It's also a very good-looking piece of furniture. We went with the black coloration, and it's... sleek. It's built of aluminum, so despite its stability there's nothing bulky or oversized about it. We haven't managed to get anything messy on it, but I think you could clean just about anything off it using just a washcloth and some warm water. The shelf at the head of the bed is basically just a shaped sheet of aluminum, but it works. It even has a small hole in the center, in case you want to run an electric cord up to (or down from) the lower shelf.

The Bad: The delivery was "curb-side service". To be clear (and fair), this was explained during the ordering process. That said, what happened was that the delivery trucked pulled up, set the entire collection of boxes in the street next to the curb, and squealed away -- probably with a cartoonish curl of smoke from the tires. Fortunately, one of the neighbors helped my beautiful (and strong) wife carry the boxes into the house.

Second, the instructions (while complete and thorough, as I said already) were a little less obvious than they could have been. Admittedly, if I'd sat down and read all the way through them before we started the project, I would have avoided a couple of "Oops, back up, we need to rearrange this" moments. (We were both in a hurry to start using the new bed, though, so we leapt straight into the assembly phase of the project.)

Third, while I think it could be assembled by a single person (given a certain amount of planning and patience), it's definitely a two-person job, and there are points where having a third person probably would have helped. That isn't so much a complaint as a consideration, though, since I can't think of any decent-sized piece of furniture that's actually, y'know, easy for one person to assemble alone.

Finally, the book shelf doesn't have sides. (Again, this is perfectly clear from the Francis Bunks site, if you even glance at the pictures before you order.) So if you're actually going to keep a row of books on them, you'll want book ends. Yes, this is the only other thing I can think of that might sort of vaguely qualify as a complaint, hypothetically. I'm just going to point out that since both my beautiful wife and I mostly read on our Kindles, it hasn't been an issue at all.

The Ugly: Nothing. Not a thing. The bed looks nice, works beautifully, and has gone a long way towards giving us back the master bedroom (probably a full fifth of our house). No, it isn't the only thing we've done, but it's been a huge part of the process. It might not have actually saved our marriage... but then again, it might have.

As far as I can see, the only potential problem is that with the cats gone, the boys may try to take over the bed:


  1. Ah, loft beds. My loft bed is not as awesome as yours: it's made of wood, its weight limit is only three pounds more than my current weight and seven pounds less than the heaviest I've ever been (the screws need tightening a lot less often now that I'm under the limit again, which I suppose is the silver lining to the Stomach Bug from Hell), and it doesn't technically have a shelf (but the shelf above my brother's closet is the perfect height and position). Still, it does solve very nicely the problem of my minuscule bedroom. I'm glad you thought of using a loft bed: I think more people should consider them.

  2. I'm just glad we were able to find one we could use.


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