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Friday, September 7, 2012

MakeShift: Space-Saving Sleeping Arrangements -- There Must Be a Bedder Way

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge Castro Convertibles, letting their freak flag fly with daring taupe-on-taupe. - CASTRO CONVERTIBLES
  • Castro Convertibles
  • Castro Convertibles, letting their freak flag fly with daring taupe-on-taupe.

If you're old, or at least blessed with caring for an older person, you are probably familiar with Castro Convertibles. You remember the commercials of little Bernadette Castro folding out the Castro Convertible Sofa Bed to show that even a kid could do it. You remember Castro Convertibles mentioned in a number of movies, including Girl, InterruptedBut even if you don't recall, Castro Convertibles is still around. It's doing this new thing with $700 ottomans that turn into single-sized beds. They come in safe beiges and muted mini zig-zag prints with a leopard print thrown in there somewhere. $700 is not in the price range for apartment dwellers who don't even want a single bed to begin with, but it does flirt with the imagination:

Why in hell are space-saving beds crazy expensive? 

They're not supposed to be for people who can afford tons of space. I've seen far too many reviews on space-saving pieces of furniture that are like, "We have this Murphy bed as a guest bed in the playroom when our relatives come over once a year." What person with a playroom needs a Murphy bed?

I once dated a girl who said, "I can't be on a full-sized bed, it's too cramped." We were a stereotypical queer couple in that one of us was pint-sized, and while I was the moose, she was the one wanting a bigger bed (maybe because I sleep horizontally, who knows). So we got a 12" stacked queen, meant for use without a boxspring. Two years later we're friends now and I still have it. I keep it on the floor. I've spent hours (probably more like days) searching for frames, and at one time had a Eurobed "Flying" bed frame that I found on Craigslist for $200 -- if you ever are this lucky to find this kind of bed on the cheap, get that shit. Oh-so-comfy, low profile, had an airy look and smooth in every way. It reminded me of this bed from the '50s:

click to enlarge Look at this minimalist business. - PRESS BED EXHIBITED AT THE PARIS EXPOSITION, 1957. COURTESY COOPER UNION MUSEUM LIBRARY, NEW YORK, AND MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY CRAFTS OF THE AMERICAN CRAFTSMEN'S COUNCIL, NEW YORK
  • Press Bed Exhibited at the Paris Exposition, 1957. Courtesy Cooper Union Museum Library, New York, and Museum of Contemporary Crafts of the American Craftsmen's Council, New York
  • Look at this minimalist business.

The above photo is from a catalog I came across at one of my favorite used book stores. The Catalogue is from 1966 and called "The Bed," made by the Museum of Contemporary Carfts of the American Craftsment's Council in New York.

Here are some more "press beds" aka Murphy beds aka wall beds from the catalog:

click to enlarge If these beds have been around since forever, shouldn't they still be common and not expensive? - (LEFT) PRESS BED FROM THE DECORATOR AND FURNISHER MAGAINE, 1891, NEW YORK, COURTESY COOPER UNION MUSEUM LIBRARY, NEW YORK. (RIGHT) SHAKER PRESS BED C. 1810, COURTESY SHAKER MUSEUM, AUBURN KENTUCKY
  • (Left) Press bed from the Decorator and Furnisher Magaine, 1891, New York, Courtesy Cooper Union Museum Library, New York. (Right) Shaker press bed c. 1810, Courtesy Shaker Museum, Auburn Kentucky
  • If these beds have been around since forever, shouldn't they still be common and not expensive?

The Shaker design Murphy bed is similar to the ones made at The Pine Shop, which gets a lot of Bay Area traffic.

Then there's the ShikiBed by JPStatus, the Japanese-inspired shikibuton, a folding bed that works either on the floor or a tatami frame or mats. Drink tea where you just folded your bed away. Why don't we see this here shikibuton in action more in the States? Are we afraid of the floor or folding sleeping quarters the same way we fear sleeping up in the air?

click to enlarge Weren't our earliest ancestors sleeping this close to the floor? - PHOTOGRAPHER MARIA VITTORIA BACKHAUS FOR APARTMENTO MAGAZINE, ISSUE # 6 AUTUMN/WINTER 2010 - 2011
  • Photographer Maria Vittoria Backhaus for apartmento magazine, Issue # 6 Autumn/Winter 2010 - 2011
  • Weren't our earliest ancestors sleeping this close to the floor?

This much is true: Living situations are getting freakier, spaces are getting smaller. No wonder we don't want a four-poster bed with a canopy in the middle of our only room. Of course we're not fans of foot boards -- what kind of two inches of wasted space is that? Just like we don't want anything to do with a box spring in addition to a frame -- too high, the room needs to breathe. So, how do we do our bed, this thing that consumes a third of our space the way sleep consumes a third of our lives? We can't sleep upside down, but we can manage just about every other sleeping arrangement, while keeping in mind that for many of us, where we sleep is also where we read, work, eat, make love, cry and if we're lucky enough to have a window or two, watch the clouds.

If you have an alternative bed solution, or just a clever, funky place, can we come over? Drop a line to: makeshiftsubmission@gmail.com.

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Rose Tully

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