Monday, May 17, 2021

Use It Or Lose It: Pencil Post Bed

Back in the 1980s, when I had a passion for Shaker furniture but precious little disposable income, I fell in love with a pencil post bed.

Natural mid-tone wood.
Four square-sided posts at each corner.
And in perfect rectangular order, a crisply geometric canopy.

To me, this unbeatable combination of dreamy design and delicious detail would be the most perfect first thing to see when I peeped open my eyes every morning, and the last satisfying glimpse of the day to send me off to sleep every night.

For years on end, I wanted a pencil post bed real bad.

Sadly, I never got one.

Well, spoilers, but at least not back then. 

However, my mom did.

Yes, that's right. At some point in the 1990s, my mom marched herself off to Ethan Allen and bought THE exact bed I'd been dreaming of for years on end.

I wasn't mad.

Well. Maybe a tiny bit jealous.

But over the course of her life, my mom had patiently waited a long, long time for many good things to come her way, and if she scored her pencil post bed before I got mine, I could only be happy that her dreams were finally coming true.

And as I admired her bed - which was exactly the kind that I coveted - a tiny little voice whispered, Maybe someday this one will be yours.

I shushed it immediately.

Years passed. 

My mom moved this bed from my childhood home on the lake to her new condo in town, and it was a vision in the new bedroom with soaring ceilings.

More years passed.

My mom eventually moved the pencil post bed up to the loft bedroom, where I slept when I visited her. 

The pencil post bed and I bonded. And that tiny voice whispered some more in my ear about the possibility of a future together. 

I still shushed it, but I thought to myself, Maybe.

A few more years passed. In July 2017, after my mom passed away, my husband and I loaded the disassembled pencil post bed into a U-haul trailer and drove it across the country.

Was my dream finally coming true?

But alas, we were missing all the hardware, and had no way to put the bed together. 

So we stashed it in our storage unit and tried to figure out our next step.

Three more years passed. 

Last fall, I reached out to Ethan Allen to see if they could hook me up with the right hardware. Luckily, we'd pulled a bar code sticker from the frame so they could easily identify the item and give me a quick answer. No, they did not have any hardware available for this piece. But they could send a parts list. 

Yes, please. 

Which I dutifully forwarded to my husband's email, where it sat in one of his folders for another six months.

This spring, I informed him, it was do-or-die time. We were gonna buy the hardware, get that freaking bed out of storage, bring it home, put it together, and give it a whirl.

My husband knows when I mean business.

And we were making great progress. By late April, the bed was sturdily assembled and standing in the middle of my bedroom, and the last and final step in my almost-forty-year-mission to acquire a pencil post bed was five minutes away from completion. All that was left to do was heft our queen-size mattress into place.

As we settled our hands into the lifting straps and prepared to hoist, another little voice whispered in my brain. 

What if the frame is a full size instead of a queen?

I shushed that voice immediately too, but it was too late.

The damage was done.

And two seconds later, the truth was told.


Indeed, my mom had purchased my dream pencil post bed, but in the wrong size. She bought a size called full XL, which made perfect sense for her, but was an all-important five inches too narrow for our queen mattress.

Now at this point, a third little voice spoke up in my brain. And this voice whispered gently, with just a hint of derision, Don't you think it's about time you gave up on this silly dream? You are just not meant to sleep in a pencil post bed, and you should stop trying to force this.

I told that little voice to shut its mouth.

And I told my husband we were going to sleep on the queen mattress on the floor while I puzzled this out.

The next day, I asked him if it would be crazy for us to get rid of our queen and buy a new full XL mattress to fit the pencil post bed. His answer: I never liked that queen mattress anyway. So why not.


A week later, our new mattress arrived. 

I breathed a sigh of relief as we unwrapped the mattress and settled it into place in the pencil post frame. 

It fit perfectly

"Grab the fresh sheets," I directed my husband, "and let's make it up for tonight." 

"Uh, these instructions say that we need to let the mattress rest for 24 to 48 hours before sleeping on it."

Of course they do.

So we slept on the floor for two more nights. 

And then finally, finally, F I N A L L Y, on a Tuesday evening in May, 2021, I slept for the first time in my very own Shaker style pencil post bed. 

It was everything that I ever hoped it would be. 

* * * * *

P.S. Grace likes the pencil post bed too. And as I imagine my mom looking down from heaven and seeing this big red galoot sprawled out across her beautiful bed, I am 100% certain she is smiling. 

* * * * *

More stories about my Use It Or Lose It adventures:

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