We’re slowly picking back up on the design/production side of things at EHD and wanted to share what we have been up to, but also wanted to take a second to acknowledge that we will never be done with the important conversations. Today, Julie is walking you through the design process for the project we’ll reveal tomorrow along with everything you need to know about building custom furniture easily, affordably, and on time. It’s a process that’s new to us, but we’ve found the ultimate resource and wanted to share with our fellow interior designers. Julie, take us away…
Julie here! So today, let’s talk about this magical bedroom design and going custom with your furniture. You might have seen the before photos of this project when I shared my new-found obsession with an updated color block paint trend and then again when we clued you all in on the design projects we’ve been up to. But in case you missed it, get ready for the full rundown on the design process and if it was worth it to design a custom daybed (spoiler: it totally was, but for one good reason).
Emily’s close friends, Annie and Derik, wanted to create a more cohesive room for their daughter, Violet, so they became our first design client for the ‘Friends & Family’ program. Emily initiated it in September of last year. I joined this and many other projects as the lead designer which you’ll see more of soon. From the moment we stepped into the space for our first meeting, it was obvious what her favorite colors (pink, purple, green, and yellow) and interests were — basically anything slightly magical. We had a clear design direction and I was excited to get started.
As with any design project, let the pinning begin!
We found inspiration in rooms with pops of colorful furniture, bold wallpaper, and some 3-dimensional elements to turn up the playfulness of the space. Typically for a kid’s room, my advice as a designer is to keep your bigger pieces, like the bed and dresser, on the more simple side and to add in the whimsy through their toys and bedding so the room can evolve as the child grows up. But the rest of Annie and Derik’s house is full of pattern, color, and unexpected moments. Emily and I knew that doing something others would consider “risky” would actually be just what they wanted to complete their house.
The original layout of the space had the bed in the corner under the windows with the rest of the room open for a play area. The secondary closet was going to stay as Violet’s art nook but right now it still felt like another closet. Hence, the reason behind my color block obsession and I can’t wait for you to see the results in the reveal tomorrow.
With the bed in the corner it made the room feel a bit off balanced because the full-size bed was the first thing you saw when you walked through the door and then it was pretty much empty, with the exception of the pink mid-century bookshelf that was going to stay and all of her toys. It also didn’t feel as cozy as it could be for a little kid (+ her two dogs and cat). So the initial idea was to do a DIY corner headboard executed by yours truly and to pair it with Violet’s current bed.
Inspired by the photos above, the first plan was to create some large scale scallops that varied in size and extended past the bed. The design iterations stopped there though, when we got a phone call from Annie letting me know that they had moved the bed further towards the center of the room for a personal reason.
Violet’s room is a great size, but the fact that it’s longer than it is wide (or you know, I could’ve just said “a rectangle”) makes the bed feel like it’s floating along that back wall. This is when I had the idea of rotating the bed to be parallel to the wall making it more of a daybed feel. This way, the area in front of the art nook would be a more open area for Violet to play. But friends, finding a “cool” full-size daybed that would go with the rest of the design elements that were already finalized was quite the challenge — one that I didn’t complete (challenge denied). So instead, we decided to design our own daybed and start the dreaded custom furniture process. Dun Dun Dun…
While in design school and over the past few years at EHD, I have always heard horror stories of going custom for a client. Custom furniture can really make a room feel special but it takes a lot of time (anywhere between 6-12 weeks or more depending on the piece), money, and there are always going to be at least a couple of issues that you’ll run into along the way, so it’s helpful to hire a designer who has experience.
We found a new daybed design inspiration in the space above by Idol Design. Annie especially loved the photo on the right of the pink velvet scalloped bench so creating something similar as the headboard was an easy decision.
Now for the tricky parts: 1. It was still a full-size mattress so even in the SketchUp model the bed felt BIG. and 2. We needed to include storage drawers below since a lot of Violet’s toys and clothes were kept under the original bed. My initial thought was to keep the outside of the side panels the same material as the storage drawers so they wouldn’t stand out and then have an upholstered panel that was inset to tie in with the scalloped headboard. The side panels also had curved edges and sloped down to try and reduce their size and the overall large-ness the bed was becoming.
The final tricky part was figuring out who would actually build this beast of a bed since this was way out of my install / DIY skills. This is when our magical partnership with BuildLane began and they transformed an idea into reality.
We first worked with BuildLane when Emily was trying to find someone to restore and reupholster her Cherner dining chairs that she had scored at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. They reached out to us after that post to not only let us know that they could do the job but that they actually specialize in custom furniture working with interior designers.
When Caitlin told me this, I quickly took a look at their site and was thoroughly impressed with the user interface. I was actually excited to start this custom piece because it looked so easy to use and it truly was, let me show you below!
“I was previously a design consultant and project manager with an interior design firm, and was also a BuildLane client before joining this team. So, I can personally attest – doing custom just got a lot easier for you. You’re going to love it.” – Heather Zeilman
This was literally in one of the first emails that Heather, BuildLane’s Chief Operating Officer, sent to me and boy did it help lessen my custom furniture anxiety.
Let’s break down the process step by step…
Once you have your initial idea, you can create a new project in your account and upload all of your inspiration photos, sketches of the design, and notes about the piece under the “Inspiration Photos & Diagrams” tab. We included the photo of the pink bench from the photos above to show the BuildLane‘s team the style of upholstery we wanted for the headboard. You can share hand sketches of the design with them or use other programs like SketchUp, AutoCAD, Revitt, etc. to give the desired dimensions of the piece. Their team will then go over your idea and let you know if the scale feels off or if it needs to be adjusted for construction. For the daybed design, I had the side panels about 1.5 – 2″ thick, but they let me know that it had to be at least 3″ thick for them to support the rest of the frame. Something that small would’ve cost us more time and money had their team not caught that detail.
Once we finalized all of the dimensions, they sent over a professional shop drawing for review — all we have to do to approve is click a button. If you did see any issues with the drawing, you could easily message them below to fix them. The same goes for all your materials — once they arrive at the factory they will take a photo of it for approval. They even include the quantity and details of the material so there isn’t any guesswork. Such a dream.
Then you wait — but not for too long, since their system is pretty seamless with approving drawings and materials quickly. Let me tell you first hand, that really cuts out a lot of emails and opened up a ton of time during my workday to get other stuff done. And then that glorious day arrives when you get an email notification that your piece is ready for review! They take a lot of photos of the finished piece at the factory. I am talking about every single angle and detail shot that you could wish for. It’s as if you are there and walking around the piece. It was great and looked just like the SketchUp model. I was so excited to click the approve button and schedule the delivery.
Then we got it into the space and realized that my initial design had more of an 80s feel to the piece than intended or as Emily likes to call it “The Star Trek Bed”. I did watch a lot of Star Trek with my dad growing up so we can blame it on that fact. Those white side panels were just too stark in the room and ended up looking like a big white erase board. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…designing custom furniture is hard, there is a reason why people go to school for industrial design. Granted this was only my third custom furniture piece that I have designed/helped design so I didn’t give myself too hard of a time, only a little (read: a lot).
Everyone was very sweet about the accidentally designing a Star Trek bed thing, which made me feel a lot better about the whole ordeal. As Emily always says, “It’s just design, it’s not the end of the world” and BuildLane was more than happy to help with a redesign. Their founder, Frank Eybsen, jumped on the phone with us to figure out a new game plan.
Here are the options we came up with…
Options #1 & #2 were intended to be paired with Violet’s existing bed frame and custom pull out drawers. There were a total of 4 shallow drawers (2 on each side) under her original bed but one was more narrow than the other so the line of the drawers as a daybed would look asymmetrical with a very symmetrical headboard which ultimately would’ve felt a bit off.
Looking back, I am not actually sure what I was trying with option #3, why at the time did I think that extending the white on the side but only just a little would look good? Who knows, that was old Julie and we can forget about her past design mistakes (all of them). 😉
#4 was feeling closer but, Frank, pointed out that the width of the side panels weren’t the right scale to those in the back. Once again saved by the BuildLane team and their expertise. By adding one more panel to each side we present to you #5, the final daybed design.
To be honest, I was a bit unsure if it was going to be too much purple-velvet-scalloped-upholstery in the space WITH the colorful floral wallpaper AND a color-blocked art nook. But both Emily and most importantly Annie, Derik, and Violet were very excited by the redesign. So I started the process over with BuildLane and uploaded our new side panel design.
A couple weeks later, the design blossomed into this beautiful flower-like daybed ready for the whole family (animals included) to snuggle up and read a bedtime story together. Once again, BuildLane was amazing and uploaded a plethora of finished photos to their site and I quickly clicked the “Approve” button. Ready for delivery (again).
And because we love a good design tease we couldn’t resist giving you all the sneakiest of sneak peeks so here is a sweet little corner of the custom furniture piece built by my literal heroes at BuildLane. You will have to come back tomorrow to see the entirety of this full-size daybed and the rest of Violet’s Mid-Century Magical Bedroom which Emily will walk you through.
We have already worked with BuildLane again to breathe some new life into Emily’s vintage chaise which will get delivered soon. I also know that our very own Jess has some custom dresser dreams for her bed nook area that I think we should all help encourage her to start designing in the comments below. 😉
Also, for all of our interior designer readers, be sure to sign up for a BuildLane account here (it’s free to register!) and use the promo code ‘EHD’ to take $250 off your first custom project with them!