Have you ever started something with great momentum, worked through 90% of it, then “took a break” that lasted forever? This describes half of my renovation projects, which are mostly done but not completed:
There are many hypothesis on the psychology underlying the inability of finishing tasks. One theory is that the procrastination is actually fueled by perfectionism and the fear that the finished product will not impress. People who are good at seeing big picture have a hard time to break it down into manageable tasks. For me, it might just be simply short attention spin. I got excited at starting a new thing but lose interests quickly during execution.
It dos not help that I live with a very accommodating partner. Slav, my housemate of 8 years and husband of nearly 5, is one of the most mild-tempered individual that you’d ever meet. He nods to every new idea I had (exciting!), cheers along every project I started (Oh! I did not think it would be so hard!), and most gratefully, tolerates all the almost-done projects I failed to complete (I will tackle it next week, I promise!). He thinks everything I did in the house is an improvement, “although incremental”. However, as a neuroscientist, who is fully aware my own psychological shortcomings, I cannot let myself slip into this chronic procrastination crack. I need to overcome my own laziness and bring some project, a project to complete completion.
There is no shortage of contenders, as shown above. And the winner is…
Floating bedside tables for our master!
The design evolution
I have long wanted floating nightstands – shall we call it “nightfloats” for short? The most important reason: cleanliness. We have a Labrador who sheds non-stop (but he is cute! And we love him very much). A couple days without vacuuming, you can see black hairballs rolling along the baseboards (eww). Floating furniture allow us to vacuum every corner of our rooms. So, when I made our headboard during Christmas. I also designed a sideboard/nightfloat combination for both sides of the bed.
This SketchUp image shows how I designed the nightfloats originally. The side panels, which are as deep as the headboard, will be standing on both sides of the bed and secured to the wall. Two nightfloats and two sconces will be mounted on the side panels, which hide all the wires behind. The blue rectangle represents a window above the bed.
As you can see, there is not a lot of room on either side of the bed. I decided to make the side panel/nightfloat 19″ wide, which is the distance between the bed and the wall to the right.
However, when I actually pop a big piece of plywood next to the bed, the room felt so… filled up to the brim. The bed assembly took over the entire back wall, making the room feel cramped. With a king and storage bed, it is so critical for us to keep everything else light and minimal. Hence the choice of curtains on the closet, the ladder for clothes drop-off, and the minimal decor. We quickly nix the idea of side panels, and decided to only make the nightfloats.
Without the side panels, one drawer nightstand looked a bit too skinny. So we opt for a more balanced two-drawer design. This guest post from The house of wood confirmed that this is the look we wanted. Although I did not follow their plan and building material, the dimensions and building process is fairly similar.
Building the carcass
With SketchUp plan in hand, I started cutting all the pieces to size.
I usually do not keep a cut list, but rather try to use up various pieces with minimal waste. After building two nightstand, I have only waste some trimmings that could be picked up by two hands – I’d say that it is pretty good!!!
I also collect all the sawdust for composting later. We keep a small bin in the kitchen for collecting green waste. Layering in sawdust kept it odor-free and dry. A win-win in my book.
I decided to join all the pieces with pocket hole joints.
Slav gifted me these quick release bar clamp (similar here) which are life savers for a one-man operation.
Now it comes my favorite part: building the drawers. There is something very comforting about the repetitive process of assembling drawers. I can build drawers everyday. If you are in the Denver area and want a few drawers built, let me know!
There are also many ways to build drawers which I am having fun trying. The first drawer I built uses butt joint and screws, and my second batch was built with butt joint and brad nails. For both cases, the drawer bottoms were screwed/nailed directly onto the bottom of the drawer frame. This time I used pocket hole joints for the frame, and cut grooves with the tablesaw on all sides of the drawer frame to sink the drawer bottoms in.
The groove were cut to fit the 5 mm plywood I had on hand (left from this project). I used a piece to make sure the groove lining up perfectly while jointing pieces together:
For small drawers like what I am building, these plywood sheets are rigid enough and should not bend easily. If you are making drawers than exceed 2′ on one side, much wider drawers, I will recommend a center support.
After inserting the drawer bottoms, I closed them off by joining in the last side. These drawers felt super solid and I am very happy with them. 🙂
I attached all the drawer slides which is pretty straightforward. I maxed out the drawer depth by having very limited space between them, but math worked.
I cut a piece of plywood to cover the whole front (including the frames), then sliced it into two pieces where the drawers divide. The cut took off 1/8″ of plywood horizontally, which left a perfect reveal between the two drawers while keeping the wood grain continuous.
Slav helped me to mount them in the bedroom. We used the Hangman french cleat for our headboard and it was rock solid. So this time we used two of this smaller version for the nightfloats.
Finished around 10 pm, perfect timing for bed:
As planned, the nightstand on Slav’s side fits like a glove.
And them just cleared the storage bed drawers:
We have used these nightfloats for a couple nights and they are perfect. The top provides plenty of space for lights, clock, and a glass of water much needed for sleeping in such dry climate. The bottom drawers are reserved for undies and socks, and the top drawers are perfect for ear buds, night guards, and glasses.
We love the seamless look in the front so we will not be adding hardware to the drawers. They are not difficult to open – all it takes is a firm grip on both sides. We might add finger pulls down the road if we see something we like enough.
We do however, plan to paint the nightfloats – should they be white as the walls, black as the bed frame, or grey as our headboard? (Apparently there are only three color in my world!)
These drawers remain empty until we paint the nightfloats. It is funny that I have added nine drawers – nine! – to our house within the last a couple weeks, yet none of them got filled. Should I celebrate our lack of stuff, or be charged of overbuild?
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