We are making more and more custom pieces of furniture for clients (or myself). While it looks like a really simple, fast process where we just show a cute, hipster furniture builder a photo from a magazine and say “Hey, Wilson, can you make this but smaller, bluer, and deeper?” it is actually so much work. Every single tiny detail has to be specified, not just width, height, and depth. You have to think about the joints, the finish, the dimensions of each piece in every way, how those pieces are put together, what direction the grain or fabric should run and of course ensuring that it is the most functional, comfortable as well as stylish possible. Going “custom” isn’t cost-effective or time-saving, no, but what you get is exactly what YOU want and something that should be unique and perfect for your space.
We needed a seating area in this playroom and while a sofa in that niche would have been fine, a wall-to-wall custom daybed would maximize the function of the space which was for reading and cuddling. Plus, I had serious canopy and pillow styling dreams that needed a daybed to be fulfilled.
First step was finding inspiration. Melanie and I (Mel was the project manager and design lead on this job) scoured Pinterest for our favorite low slouchy built-in daybeds.
I knew that simple would be better both stylistically, budget-wise, and to help maximize the space. We wanted it to feel chunky, heavy, and solid. I loved all of the above for different reasons. I showed them to my builder and he said all were doable for roughly the same price. I ultimately decided on doing a version of #1 (design by Alexander Design and Build) because it felt the most right stylistically. The feet felt too “furniture-y” and I really wanted it to feel permanent. The fourth one (plywood on both sides) felt to scandy and minimal for the house. So I was down to #1 and #3. One thing that I thought they would want is a ledge to hold drinks. It was mom-to-mom advice as I know that I’m always struggling for a safe place to put my coffee or wine in the family room out of reach of those Go-Go-Disaster-Arm children. So I thought I could do a version of #3 that had a ledge on top.
Option #1 was based on that first inspiration pic with some changes – no back, cute bolsters instead, etc.
Here are some things you probably didn’t know you needed to think about – if you say 4″ cushion that probably means a total of 6″ height because the cushions are higher in the middle. I’ve gotten that wrong before and the cushion has been too high. Also foam and feather/down also affect the height so make sure to specify that as well.
This option allowed for the drink ledge that I secretly want:
Ultimately I thought that the first option was so much prettier and I was worried that the drink ledge would look REALLY stupid. I realized that putting a back on the daybed would potentially decrease the comfort as the height of the back could hit in the wrong spot on your back or neck. Ultimately, the second rendering was a way worse design. I think it could have been tweaked and salvaged but we all loved #1 so we moved forward with that.
The next step was getting quotes on building that bad boy. Our budget was decent (I prioritized this piece into the budget) but timing-wise we were on a rush and needed it within 10 days. So I found Colin who quoted us $1600 for all materials, labor, delivery, and install. If you think that is a lot of money, you are right. If you think that is over priced, you are wrong. Hiring skilled people who maintain a shop, who will source materials, build, perfect, finish/stain, load up, transfer, install, and sign off on a piece is a hefty price tag. Now this piece is simple and I think that many of you could make it yourself – maybe not as beautifully, but if you can then you should. I couldn’t so we had to pay for it.
Of course the daybed also needed that cushion which wasn’t included (I KNOW).
We had to source the fabric. Mel went sourcing downtown for a couple of hours and we chose this super cute, poppy coral. The original plan was gray – something quiet so the pillows could pop, but at the last-minute we shifted gears and went coral. After doing this daybed I advise that one should always shift gears to go coral.
Once the fabric was chosen we had to specify how it was going to be sewn. There are too many seam, stitching, tufting, welting and thread options out there.
Again, the drawing:
We wanted a boxed cushion but no boxing on the front, which sounds weird but it’s what my sectional has and it’s a new trend in upholstery. It’s like a waterfall on front but on the sides its boxy and firm (not a knife-edge).
That drawing isn’t to scale so I kept thinking that the legs were too close together or the frame was too high (see how the frame says 3″ which is about the same size as the 6″ on the legs?) If it had been for a paying client, we would have rendered them up properly for their ultimate sign off and approval, but I could see past these issues and we moved forward (plus we were in a huge hurry).
All in all, the daybed took a lot of man hours to spec, draw, design, coordinate, and install. But once it was done, it truly was perfect. Lets talk numbers:
Daybed construction and materials from furniture builder: $1600
Fabric: $251.79 (10 yards I believe)
Cushion materials and labor: $380
Type of wood: cab pine. Colin gave us some options but we loved how it looked and it was relatively affordable.
Who would have thought that something so simple would be so time-consuming and expensive? Answer: all designers. Custom work costs money for good reason. I’m really big on valuing skilled labor, which you would think would be a common thing, but it’s not. Because mass retailers manufacture sofas for $1500 doesn’t mean that a one-off should cost the same. It shouldn’t. A small artisan operation should charge more than the manufacturer that makes 25 or 2500 of the same piece. Now that I’ve written this post I’m sure that there will be many-a-less-expensive mass retailer imitation of this piece (hopefully), but when you are producing one thing with specific measurements and materials, it’s custom, special, and expensive but worth it.
In case you missed the whole playroom reveal, go here.
Let me in on what you are thinking. Are you SHOCKED that something so simple is $2200 or after I broke it down does it start to make sense? I think there is absolutely a way to do your own version of this on a budget but we didn’t have the time to experiment nor the manpower to do that. Thoughts?
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