Converting antique wood bed to queen?

equest17January 28, 2013

Does anyone have experience with converting an antique full sized wooden bed to a queen? I know there are simple converter rails you can buy, but I've typically seen it done with metal beds.

The bed I'm interested in is a lovely Empire style full sized sleigh bed. It's a lot like this one, but the headboard is taller, the footboard lower, and it's not painted:

The biggest concern I have is how the bed would look if I have to use the metal converter rails. I think I would need a bedskirt to hide the plain metal rails, and I've never seen these beds without the wood rail exposed. The other issue is that I really like the exposed rail style, so I don't know if I'd even like the bed as much without the wood sides. Is there any way to use or make wood rails that would adapt the full size to a queen? I would even consider painting the bed to make new wood rails match if need be, since the veneer isn't in perfect shape.

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I think it would be easy enough to adjust the length as the wooden rails could be remade in the correct length and could blend seamlessly if finished correctly. However, a queen mattress is 6" wider than a full. I see no way to make the additional width work and look right with the head and foot boards attached and the side rails visible. If you wanted to use the head and foot boards without the side rails being visible, then you could attach them to a queen-sized metal framework and use a skirt to cover the side rails.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 1:21PM
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Yes, I think a carpenter could splice in the additional length, or just make all new rails that are longer. But it's the width that stumps me. The metal converter rails latch in to the original slots on the headboard and footboard, but they jog out to give the additional width needed. I don't think a similar design would work with new wood rails.

Does anyone have a photo of a full sized wooden bed using the queen rails? I wonder how much of the mattress "overflows" the sides of the head and footboards. Or does anyone have a similarly chunky sleigh bed that doesn't have exposed wood rails? I wonder if the head and footboards of this style would look too unsupported without the wood rails.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 2:20PM
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I was just talking with my engineering DH about doing this with a full size bed that we have. Here's what we came up with:

1. if using a metal frame, you have to recess through bolt to the headboard and foot board then plug the holes with wood plugs. Needs to be through bolted for stability to prevent head & foot boards from wobbling.

2. Queen bed is 60" and a full is 54" so there's a 3" overhang on each side. Probably not a deal breaker when you think about the fluffiness of quilts, comforters.

3. The old wood rails will now be too short but to hide the metal frame, a new non functioning rail could be attached to the side of the metal rail and made to look like it attaches to the headboard and footboard. May require some routing of the edge or other decorative carpentry so it doesn't look like you just slapped a 1 x on it.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 2:35PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Converting a sleigh bed would be much more difficult than some other types. Someone would need to widen the headboard and footboard for it to really look right (siderails, too probably) and I would not trust anyone other than a really good cabinetmaker. I would forgo the antique bed and buy new if you have your heart set on a sleigh bed.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 3:31PM
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Dlm2000, are you talking about using the converter rails that are sold specifically for adapting full to queen? Or are you using standard queen rails? I'm not sure I understand "recess through bolt" and what would need to be plugged. But I'd love to know more details of what you're planning and what bed style you'll be using.

Cyn427, I definitely agree it's harder. We have a 1924 bungalow, so the vintage bed would be perfect. And the bed I have my eye on is only $200, so investing a little bit of money might be worth it. I wasn't planning in cutting the head and footboard. I've seen iron beds adapted and the mattress just overhangs a few inches, as dlm pointed out. I was just hoping to find a way to keep the wood rails exposed, but it may not work.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 4:00PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

I hear you. I do think, though, that the charm of antique sleigh beds is that enclosed feeling they have when you look at them and that would most certainly be lost unless you rebuilt the frame. Iron beds are completely different, imho, and it would be easy to camouflage any conversion.

We have an antique full-sized bed in one of our bedrooms. It is okay for two if neither is really tall! Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 4:59PM
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