How to Make a Japanese Style Platform Bed

Written by umiko sasaki
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The Japanese platform bed has become popular in America because its clean lines blend in with almost any decor Similar to Western platform beds, it lies close to the ground; yet unlike their Western counterparts, they usually have a very simple headboard—or none at all. Purchasing this kind of bed from a retail source can cost a few thousand dollars, but the cost of making your own consists only of the materials needed for the project.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Planks (size will depend on the size of your bed)
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Staples
  • Strips of thick fabric
  • Tatami mat
  • Futon or mattress

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  1. 1

    Construct the base of the bed. Depending on the size of the tatami mat you'll be installing, construct the platform's outline in a square or a rectangular shape. The outline will consist of four planks of wood (2x4 planks will work well here, but 2x6 and even 2x12 will work). The frame should be large enough to accommodate the tatami mat without leaving any space around it.

  2. 2

    Carve a groove along the inside edge of the long sides of the frame, to accommodate the wooden support plants in Step 5. The edge needs to be uniform to allow a series of cross planks to rest on it.

  3. 3

    Cut or purchase four pieces of wood that will serve as legs to raise the bed to the preferred height. Attach the frame with nails, screws and bolts or through interlocking grooves. The latter method is more traditional, but also more difficult to complete if you accidentally carve too much space in the groove. When you're finished with this step, the frame will be resting on the four feet very much like the bed's Western counterpart.

  4. 4

    Cut or purchase a plank of wood that will run the length of the frame, but will fit snugly inside, level with the recessed groove carved in the sides. Install it so it lies exactly halfway in the frame, with an equal distance to the edge on either side of it.

  5. 5

    Cut or purchase several planks of wood almost equal to the width of your frame, but like the step above, they must be short enough to fit snugly inside the frame. Lay them crosswise so they're supported by the grooves in the frame you cut earlier and the lengthwise beam in the middle. This will distribute weight across the frame. The number of planks will depend on the size of the frame, but a general rule is to place a beam every six inches.

  6. 6

    From head to foot of the bed, staple strips of thick fabric to the crosswise support beams with staples. It can be any kind of fabric, but should be smooth and thick enough to provide cushioning for the mats. This step is optional, but will help protect the underside of the tatami mats from fraying or wear. The number of strips depends on the bed's size: for a twin or a full, one strip on either side of the bed will do, whereas a queen and larger will require a total of four strips—two on either side to support each half of the bed.

  7. 7

    Add one or two tatami mats to the bed, depending on the frame's size: a twin or full bed usually will need one mat, whereas a queen or king will need two. This may be the most expensive purchase out of all your materials, but mats can be found for a few hundred dollars. The mats should fit right on top of the support planks, without extending outward past them. Traditional tatami mats are filled with straw, but modern synthetic fibre-filled mats are available. Don't cut the mat to fit the bed.

  8. 8

    Furnish the bed with either a regular mattress, or a traditional futon. The latter will give the bed a more Japanese feel, but either style will look like a platform bed when completed.

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