the repurposed guest bed.

As I’ve mentioned, since furniture sales have slowed way down for me, I’m taking this time to focus on projects for myself that I’ve been putting off for a while (OK, maybe years in some cases).  Today I have a really fun one to share with you guys.  There is a bit of a long story behind this one, so you may want to refill your coffee before diving in.

Several years ago, Mr. Q and I swapped our guest room for his home office.  Prior to that, the guest room was the larger room, and his office was the smaller one.  We finally came to the realization that he uses his office every day, and we rarely have house guests.  It didn’t make sense to have the larger room going mostly unused, especially in a smaller home like ours where space is at a premium.

But switching to the smaller guest room meant getting rid of the full sized bed we were using and replacing it with a twin.  We actually traded the full sized mattress and box spring with my neighbor, nnK.  She took the full size, and gave us her twin sized versions.

That left us with a spare full size headboard and foot board (and side rails).  We stuck them up in our carriage house and there they’ve sat since 2017.

Now, you might be wondering why I didn’t sell the bed, so let’s go back a bit.  Here is the bed when it was part of the guest room.

Sorry, that’s the best photo I could find of the bed in its ‘before’ condition and it doesn’t even show the foot board, which is one of those ones that curve around the mattress.

There’s a little history behind this bed.  Mr. Q and I purchased our home around the same time that his great uncle’s estate was being divvied up.  We ended up with this bed, a matching dresser and a dining room set from Uncle Roy’s house.  This was back in 1988.  When we got the bedroom set, it was already painted.  I wanted to return it to the natural wood (that was the trend in the late 80’s), so I sent them off to be ‘dipped’.  Does anyone else remember that?  Maybe it’s even still a thing, I don’t know.  But basically your furniture is dipped in a large vat of stripper to remove the paint.

When we picked the pieces back up from the dipper, he explained that the manufacturer intended for these pieces to be painted.  This was obvious after they were stripped because they were each made out of more than one kind of wood, plus the ‘carved’ details were molded plaster, not carved wood.  So after all of that dipping, I had to repaint the pieces rather than staining and varnishing them.

Keep in mind, this was the late 80’s, I was still in my 20’s (ha, ie. a long time ago), I knew nothing about painting furniture!  So I went to the paint store and asked for help.  They explained that I should absolutely use oil based paint for durability (eeekkk! I can’t stand using oil based paint!), so that’s what I did.  I painted them in an oil based warm white.

Flash forward another decade or two.  I decided to redecorate and paint the pieces black.  I painted over the oil based paint with latex paint.  As you may be guessing, that did not hold up well over time.  That’s the reason I’m telling this rather long winded story.  It’s a cautionary tale of what not to do when painting furniture.  Do not paint over oil based paint with latex paint.  Over time it starts to peel right off, and that’s why I couldn’t sell this bed frame.  The black paint was peeling.  The only way to make this bed suitable for sale would have been to completely strip all of the paint layers and start over, and there is no way that would have been worth the effort.

So I stored it for a few years.  Last winter I thought I’d make the headboard into one of my Christmas signs (like this one).  I had Mr. Q bring it down from upstairs in the carriage house, and that’s when I drove over it.

LOL, didn’t see that coming did you?  But yep, it was leaning up against the wall in the carriage house and it fell over.  That’s where I park my car in the winter, and because the headboard is black and it was dark in there, I didn’t notice it on the floor and I drove over it.

That did a bit of damage.  So I put off working on this project once more.

And that brings me to today.  I finally had the time to work on this one, and I had a really cool plan for it.

I started with removing the plaster wreath from the headboard, and filling the giant crack I made driving over it with some of Dixie Belle’s Mud.

Next up I tried to remove as much of the peeling latex paint as I could, and then sanded the entire piece to prep it for new paint.

In an effort to improve adhesion, disguise an uneven surface, and create additional age with more layers of color, I next pulled out some Dixie Belle Sea Spray and The Gulf paint.

I mixed the two to create a brownie batter-like consistency and painted a coat of that on the headboard.

This was just an underlayer of color though, I painted over it with two coats of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  I purposely allowed both the black and the aqua to peak through in some spots.

Then I added the Gregory’s Catalogue paint inlay from I.O.D. (for a full tutorial on using the paint inlays, check out this post).

When using a large design that comes on multiple sheets like this one, I start in the middle and work my way out adding wet paint to each section as I’m ready to place that piece.

Be sure to follow all directions with these paint inlays, especially keeping in mind that it’s best to seal them with a spray sealer first rather than a brushed on finish (the paint of the inlay is easily reactivated with a water based finish and will smear).  So once I had the paper backing off and everything was dry, I sprayed my headboard with Rustoleum flat clear sealer.  Once that was dry I also added a couple of coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear sealer over it.  Since I’ll be hanging this outside, I wanted to protect it fairly well.

Now, let’s look at what we did with the footboard.

Once again, I need to add a disclaimer here.  Since this project was a keeper for me, I didn’t go as all out as I would have if I intended to sell it.  Were I selling it, I would have asked Ken to build a proper box on the back of the foot board.  Instead I just had him add a shelf with a couple of legs at the back to support it.  My plan was to use this as a ‘planter’ by placing it up against the carriage house and putting plastic planter boxes on that shelf.

I painted the whole thing using the same process as the headboard, The Gulf with Sea Spray followed by two coats of Drop Cloth.

I then sealed the inside of the ‘planter’ with Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide.  Gator Hide is their most durable, water repellant finish.  Since I will be placing potted plants on that shelf, I know it will be getting wet so I’m giving it the best chance of holding up.

If you’ve never used Gator Hide, I will tell you that it has a bit more sheen than my usual flat finish.  Personally I’m not a fan of shine, so for that reason I only used it on the inside of this piece where it won’t show.  I used the flat Dixie Belle clear coat on the front.

If you’ve stuck with me so far, here’s where we are with this project.

I’ve hung the headboard sign on the carriage house between the doors, and placed the foot board planter beneath it.  All that’s left is to fill it up with plants.

I learned another valuable lesson here, or at least one that is worth sharing with my local readers.  Don’t go to Gertens first for your plants.  I purchased two small ferns for $14.99 ea, two white caladium for $18.99 ea, and two dark red coleus for $4.99 ea from Gertens.  Then several days later I went to Home Depot and found caladiums that were twice the size for $9.98 and a fern that was 4 times the size for $14.98.  I really wish I had checked Home Depot first!

Well, live and learn, and either way, I am loving this combination of shade plants for my foot board planter.

I’m relying on foliage for the interest and color in this north facing spot.

So, several weeks and … uh … quite a few dollars later, I have created a focal point with lots of impact at the end of my driveway.

I learned a few lessons along the way with this one; (1) don’t assume all painted furniture can be stripped and stained, (2) don’t drive over your headboard, (3) don’t paint over oil based paint with latex paint, and finally (4) check Home Depot for inexpensive plants before resorting to Gertens.

I won’t say this was an inexpensive project.  By the time you add in the cost of the board Ken added to create a shelf, the paint inlay and especially the plants, pots & potting soil, this one added up.  If I’d also had to buy the bed itself, plus all of the Dixie Belle products I used (two colors of paint, Sea Spray, flat clear coat, Gator Hide) … well, yikes!

But I sure am happy with the results.  It’s definitely a keeper.

What do you think?

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing all of their products used on today’s project.

56 thoughts on “the repurposed guest bed.

  1. Oh my word! What an amazing transformation and it adds so much to that area. I love this and the story makes it even better😅. Can only imagine that it will get even better as the plants grow. So many possibilities in the future. I can see this decked out for the seasons in lots of ways.


    1. I’m still debating whether or not I’ll leave it out for winter. I know the foot board planter would look amazing filled with greens and lights, but it would likely be sitting directly in snow for a good chunk of the season so I’m not sure I want to do that. Decisions, decisions.


  2. Well at about the half way point I did need to refill my coffee cup – haha!
    What an interesting story of the transformation of this rather ‘challenging’ piece of furniture. Your determination is admirable and the end result is just perfect for your carriage house.
    And thanks for sharing your lessons learned along the way!


  3. Wow, I love how it all came together, and the time and money it took seems well spent! Great new home for it, I can’t wait to see it in person the next time I pick up a purchase 😊


  4. I love it!! I have wanted to try the inlays so bad but I don’t have a piece yet that is worth paying 50 for the inlay. This is gorgeous though.


  5. Wow what a statement piece. I love the inlay and need to find a piece to use it on. The plants look perfect in it too.


  6. Oh my WORD!!!! Linda this is AMAZING!!! I’ve never seen anything like it-bravo!!!🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 Seriously, it’s beautiful😍 and SO hilarious that you drive over it (I’m sure not at the time😉) THIS is why are in a magazine (which I never got back to commenting on🤦🏼‍♀️), so we’ll deserved, such a cool idea!!🥰


  7. It is beautiful. I know you went to a lot of trouble, but I think you did great. I would love to have one just like it..


  8. This is gorgeous!
    I want to make some clever analogy about home runs and hitting it out of the park, but alas, I’m typing this on only one cup of coffee and will just say, I love it. 😍😍


  9. Oh Linda,
    You gave me such a good morning chuckle! I have Covid so any diversion is a plus. I really enjoy your makeovers! Your creativity is just the best.
    Smiles, alice


  10. Lots of work but ended in a perfect transformation! You always come up with such wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing them with us!


  11. Have to admit, when I first started reading this and saw the guest room bed, I was like all “ oh no, no, no!! Don’t tear up that beautiful bed frame!” I absolutely adore that style of bed. 🥰 But once I saw the finished result, I was totally on board. It turned out fab and looks perfect there in front of the carriage house. When you do your next garden tour, can you include a wider picture of the carriage house so we can get the full affect? Great job and cheers! 🥂


    1. I love that style of bed as well, but they are not terribly practical. They only come in twin or full size (they didn’t make bigger beds when these were the popular style), and you can’t expand the full into a queen because of that wrap around foot board. Sure, you could go without the foot board, but then that’s the most fabulous part. Most buyers want at least a queen these days, so full sized beds are a tough sell. But now everyone can make theirs into a planter/sign combo! As for the wider photo, I’ll work on that!


  12. You have great reasons (??excuses??-ha!) why this project took so long…but what a great story! Love the finished pieces!


    1. LOL, that’s true. I do love them, even though they were pricey. I may try to save some of them over the winter (the ferns, the caladium). We’ll see how ambitious I feel about that come fall.


  13. It turned out great! and what a story! Isn’t it amazing how much you learn over the years? I had a similar experience stripping a painted Hoosier cabinet we inherited back in the 80’s. It was such a disappointment to see that it was made of multiple types of wood rather than the beautiful oak I was hoping for. It sat for years in my basement half stripped of its paint before I decided it would still be beautiful with a couple coats of paint (just plain Jane latex white because that was all I knew back then). Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Your transformations are fabulous and the stories resonate with me!


    1. Oh my gosh KQK, it’s nice to know someone else who was fooled by a ‘meant to be painted’ piece. I bet it was doubly disappointing when you’d done all the work to strip it yourself!


  14. It looks absolutely beautiful and unique(in a good way!). I love that you always find a way to repurpose things.


    1. Thanks so much Jennifer! I’m glad you added the “in a good way” because here in Minnesota when someone says “well, that’s different” … it’s not usually meant as a compliment 😉 Ha!


  15. Wow, you really went the distance for this piece, but it came out fantastic. Excellent perseverance and vision.


  16. Miss Quandie! Your footboard planter is just over-the-top AB FAB!!!..Looking at the “in progress” picture I thought hmmmmmmm, that looks kind of dinky, not realizing that I was looking at the back. I wasn’t getting it! But seeing it completed and planted…..Woah! In addition, I had the kinda depressing realization that, yes, I MIGHT have thought of doing this BUT would have kept the shelf in front…….thinking, oh I’ll put the plants in pretty pots and they’ll look so nice against the white background, let some tendrils drape over those dinky legs……thus proving my low design IQ! Very painful! I just love your idea and how beautifully it turned out………


    1. Hey, your idea may have turned out just as nicely! Although then you wouldn’t have been able to admire the pretty curved foot board with it’s faux carved wreath 😉


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