Swedish Bed Project

Get Swedish style on a budget by making this gorgeous bed using our instructions.

A dramatic Gustavian-style bed is the focal point in this pretty bedroom. Though beds like this can be found as expensive antiques or reproductions, we've come up with plans so you can make it yourself from cost-effective medium-density fiberboard. A finishing coat of white paint give it a fresh, clean look.

The curved lines and carved details of the bed are trademarks of Swedish style. The center of the headboard is enhanced by the carving of a bowl of fruit, while the straight lines of the footboard keep the bed from becoming too frilly. The feminine touches and quiet color palette give this style a restful quality that you're sure to love.

Read on for a complete list of tools and materials as well as step-by-step instructions for constructing the bed.

You Will Need

  • 3/4-inch poplar
  • 3/4-inch medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
  • 3/4-x-7-inch poplar
  • Strips of decorative composition molding
  • 1/4-inch dowels
  • Four 2-inch-diameter wood finials
  • Twelve 1/4-x-2-x-2-inch rosettes
  • Basket molding
  • No. 8-x-2-inch wood screws
  • Table saw and dado blade
  • Chop saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Router; 3/4-inch straight bit and 5/8-inch straight bit
  • Plate joiner
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Biscuits
  • Wood glue
  • Heat gun
  • Bed-rail hangers
  • Wire brads
  • Wood putty
  • Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Utility paintbrush
  • Satin-finish enamel paint
  • See complete instructions below.

Bed Assembly Diagram

Note: Our bed fits a queen-size mattress.


Make the Posts: Laminate three pieces of 3/4-inch poplar that are at least 48 1/2 inches long. After stock is cured, cut to make a piece that is 2 1/4 inches square. Cut two 31-3/8-inch pieces for footboard posts A and two 48-1/2-inch pieces for headboard posts B.

Beginning 6 1/2 inches up from the bottoms, taper the posts so the bottoms measure 1 1/2 inches square. For the accent kerf, cut a 1/4-x-1/4-inch groove around each post 7 1/4 inches from the bottom. Use a router with a 5/8-inch straight bit to cut a 1/2-inch-deep mortise on the inner surface of each post, starting 8 1/2 inches up from the bottom of the post and stopping 3 1/2 inches from the top.

Make the Footboard: Cut a 25-3/4-x-62-1/4-inch piece of 3/4-inch MDF for footboard panel C. Using a table saw fitted with a dado blade, size and cut 5/8-inch tenons on the short sides of C to fit in the mortises on the posts A. The shoulders of each tenon should be 1/16 inch wide. Glue C to A, and set aside to cure. Cut a 2-1/4-x61-1/4-inch piece of 3/4-inch poplar for footboard-trim piece D.

Use a router with a 3/4-inch straight bit set at a depth of 3/16 inch to cut a 1 3/4-inch channel centered on the front of D. Mark locations of biscuits on the back of D and the front of C. Cut slots for biscuits. Glue, assemble, clamp, and set aside to cure. Trim composition molding and glue to inside of channel on D. Repeat steps to make footboard trim piece for back of footboard.

Laminate enough 3/4-inch poplar to make four 2-1/2-inch blocks E. Cut blocks after stock is cured and attach to the center top of the posts with 1/4-inch dowels and glue. Attach decorative finials to tops of blocks in the same way. Attach rosettes to blocks with glue and wire brads.

Make the Headboard: Cut a 54-1/2-x-62-1/4-inch piece of 3/4-inch MDF for headboard panel F. Use a straightedge and a compass to make a paper pattern for the curves. Lay pattern on MDF and cut curves with a jigsaw. Clean up curves with a router fitted with a pattern bit. Measure, mark, and cut four 2-1/4-inch-wide pieces G following the curves, two for the front of the headboard and two for the back. Route a 1-3/4-x-3/16-inch-deep channel in the front of G and headboard trim pieces H. Miter pieces and trim to fit.

Trace the outline of the basket molding on the center of H; remove waste so the molding sits flush when attached to F. Glue basket molding to F. To attach G, predrill for No. 8-x-2-inch wood screws from the back of the headboard. Attach H with biscuits and glue. Attach top blocks E and finials with dowels and glue as on footboard. Use a heat gun to shape the decorative molding, and glue it inside the channel on G and H, starting at each end and working toward the center.

Make the Bed Rails: Cut two 7-x-80-inch pieces of 3/4-inch MDF for bed rails I. Position and attach bed-rail hangers. Mark position of bed-rail hangers on each end of I and use the 5/8-inch router bit to cut mortises in A and B, 8 inches from the bottom. Cut two 1-x-1-x-80-inch cleat pieces J and two 3/4-x-3-x-80-inch slat pieces K from poplar.

Predrill holes and screw J flush with bottom edge of I; predrill holes and screw K to J. For added strength, make two additional cleat and slat assemblies and attach to C and F.

Cut two 6-x-80-inch pieces of 3/4-inch poplar for bed-rail trim L. Step-cut the long edges: The first step is 1/4 inch from the edge and 3/8 inch deep; the second is 3/4 inch from the edge and 1/4 inch deep; the third is 13/16 inch from the edge and 1/8 inch deep. Attach composition molding to the face of L with glue and wire brads. Attach L to the face of the bed rail I with the bottom edges flush. Repeat steps to make a piece of trim for the bottom of the footboard.

Finish the Bed: Fill all holes with wood putty, sand all surfaces, and wipe away sanding dust. Prime all surfaces and dry. Lightly sand again, and remove the sanding dust. Paint with two coats of white satin-finish enamel paint.


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