Slav and I love to have people over. We love hosting dinner parties, movie nights, and occasionally overnight guests. We always have a good spare mattress, but never a guest bedroom, or even a guest bed. Whenever our friends stay with us, we throw the mattress on the floor with some comfortable pillows and comforters. Such simple setup did not make our time with friends any less enjoyable. We make it up by cooking amazing breakfast in the morning, and Slav makes a killer cappuccino.

Now we bought a five-bedroom house (!), we finally have the space to set up a real guest bedroom. In fact, we are tossing around the idea to convert the entire basement into a two-bedroom guest suite. With its own kitchen and bathroom, whoever is staying with us will have complete privacy, which makes a breeze for long time stay of family and friends, as well as short-term rental.

Here comes the exciting news: next week, we will be welcoming the first long-term guest in the ranch house – Slav’s mom is visiting us from Poland!

Mom Anna had lived in the States for decades before she moved back to Slav’s hometown, Nowy Wiśnicz. Slav’s parents built a beautiful house there when Slav was a baby. After living in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn for years, mom could not wait to go back home.

But living in a three story house by herself can get lonely. Mom has been craving some family time with us, and this winter, she finally pulled the trigger and comes to spend Christmas with us! We have been eating less for the last a couple weeks to prepare ourselves for the inevitable weight gain (mom is a really good cook). At the mean time, we want to set up a real guest bedroom  – with real bed.

If you remember our basement plan, we have opened the drywall in the utility room to convert the 3-bedroom basement to a 2-bedroom suite. The current two bedrooms are both on the northern side of the suite, directly below Slav’s office and our bedroom.

Ranch basement_proposal 1

We picked the smaller bedroom on the northwest corner for mom, which is below Slav’s office. The carpet in that room is in the best shape – relatively speaking, and our bedroom floor squeaks a lot, which can be noisy.


This room has been known as “Charlie’s bedroom”, because our dog Charlie sleeps here. The other room is bigger and a lot brighter, but Charlie picked this room as soon as he walked into the house. This room rocks a pair of fluorescent purple curtains, which gives off a brothel-like lighting when they are closed during the day. Charlie digs it.

Without any time and budget, we decided to focus on setting up a good bed for mom. We have picked up a pair of head board/foot board sets from Habitat for Humanity months ago, and we inherited a small table that can be used for bedside storage.




This head board/foot board set is made of beautiful hardwood, and is in pretty good shape. There are some scratches and small dings, but it is structurally very sound. I love the simple shape and small details – not too modern, not too complicated either, a perfect balance.



We have a pair of railing that fits the bed, but no frames. So our work includes to come up with some kind of bed slats for supporting the mattress, and give the head board and foot board a nice cleaning and refinish.


For cleaning and restoration, I followed the method from the Manhattan Nest, which was adopted from the Brick House. Basically, it involves

  1. Cleaning the old grease off the wood with Murphy’s Oil Soap (I used warm soapy water) and fine steel wool (grade 0 or 1)
  2. After the bed is dry, soak the wood with Danish oil or other wood finishes
  3. Wax and Polish with Howard Feed-N-Wax

I started by popping up the boards on a piece of plastic drop cloth, and scabbed it down with warm soapy water and steel wool. I used grade 1 in most of the places, and grade 0 on the second pass.


It was a true arm workout, but the boards cleaned up nicely:


The wood looked a lot lighter after cleaning. Since the boards are not painted or stained, the color you are seeing now is the true color of the wood, without grease and dirt.



After it dried, the boards looks pale at some spots. But do not worry, the oil is supposed to bring the rich color back to the wood.


Before I oiled it up this baby, Slav glued down a piece of loose trim and clamped it into place:


I had to wait a few hours for the glue to dry before applying oil, so Slav took the opportunity to make some bed slats. He cut up some 1″ x 8″ pine boards to fit in between the railings:


After the glue finally dried, it was time for the oil! I soaked a microfiber cloth with danish oil and gave the boards a good wipe. The color of the wood immediate changed. The image below was taken right after the first coat of oil. The left 2/3 of the hand rail has oil on top, and the right 1/3 is without. You can see the color difference:


Drier the wood pieces are, more oil they drink up. In my case, I could see oil “disappearing” within minutes. So I came back every 5 minutes to give the boards another coat of oil, especially at the hand rails and legs, where there were more wear.


It took five coats before the oil started sitting on top of the wood. With each coats, the color of the wood became richer. The picture above was taken after the third coat, and below is the finished product with five coats.


Here is the foot board after five coats of danish oil. I love the color so much.


I let the last coat of oil sitting on the wood for about half an hour, then used a clean microfiber cloth to wipe off the excess. I followed by polishing both boards with the Feed-n-Wax. It only took one pass to give the boards a great shine:


Slav cut up 8 pieces of slats, which covered 2/3 length of the bed. They together give a strong support for the mattress.


We popped the mattress on, with a brand new mattress protector and a pair of pillows with pillow protectors.


I finished the bed with crisp white sheets and linen duvet cover. A floral down comforter on top keeps the bed warm and cozy.


After finishing the bed, I moved onto restore the small bedside table. It was pretty beat up with paint and stains on top. It also got a lot more fade and wear compared to the bed.



Danish oil does not change the color of the wood, so even through it could give the table a richer color, it would not be able to mask all the wear. To restore the color of the table, I decided to give Restore-A-Finish a try. This is another Howard product and I’ve seen how it does wonders. I followed the same steps as those refinishing the bed – first using steel wool and soapy water to clean the surface, followed by rubbing on some Restore-A-Finish, then finishing it with Feed-N-Wax.


This is the finished result:


A pretty big difference from before restoration:


We opened the vent in the basement to make it toasty, and cleaned all the walls, floor and closets. Charlie’s bed is moved out of the bedroom (poor boy!). Now we have the guest bedroom ready!