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Bed Frame by Night, Room Divider by Day?

Hi,  I need a place for a guest to sleep, but there's no room in my very small place to leave a guest bed set up during the day. There is no wall or closet big enough for a Murphy bed, nor space enough for a sleeper loveseat sofa or a daybed. (This place is really little, what some would call "very efficient", so every piece of furniture is multi-functional)  My cat will destroy a high-sided inflatable Aero bed in no time (ask me how I know!) but I can easily deflate a regular air mattress and store it in a drawer with bed linens during the day. But I don't want my guests to sleep on a mattress on the floor, and we need the walk space during the day!


So I'm thinking of building a wooden bed frame that will raise a standard, full/double-width air mattress (54"x75"x6") off the floor, with legs about 12" high.  I know there are lots of platform bed designs out there, but I need something foldable or stand-up-able, so it's out of the way but in view during the day. (No closet to hide it in.) I'd like to use the frame as a tall free-standing screen or room divider when it's not needed for a bed, so it needs to be reasonably light weight but attractive, and can quickly be transformed to either use. 


The base that the air mattress rests on doesn't need to be hard surface. It could be strong canvas drawn taut on all 4 edges like a big cot (and I could paint the canvas for a decorative room divider when it's standing upright) or else I know how to weave it with strong cord in a decorative pattern, like a traditional charpoy bed in India. With a good air mattress and pad on top it will be comfortable and lightweight. I slept on a charpoy + air mattress every night for more than 2 years!  The air mattress seems to distribute weight well over the woven cord base, so it doesn't sag in the middle like an ordinary canvas camp cot does.


So I'd like your advice on these questions, please:

 1. What can I use (wood or pipe) to make a sturdy yet attractive 54x75 frame with detachable or fold-up legs, using basically a couple of pull saws, a drill, and the usual hand tools? I'm pretty good at DIY but I don't have many power tools any more. I've looked at turned wooden legs, closet pole, galv pipe.... What would be strong enough to keep the canvas or woven cords from bowing in at the sides? Pipes are easy to connect together, but the joints aren't so attractive, so wood would be preferred for aesthetics and also lighter weight. if I can use wood, how fat would the sides of the frame need to be, and what would be a good way to join them at the corners? I've thought about cubes of 4x4 (rounding the corners) with holes drilled for fat poles. and pegged tight with dowels. I don't think I have the skill for precision mortise and tenon joints.


2.If I can use wood, do you have any suggestions for making the legs removable or foldable? Then I could stand it up against the wall during the day, or leave 2 legs in place for stability as a room divider. I was thinking of using some sturdy turned wood legs I saw in my local Home Depot, but I don't know how to make them foldable or easily detachable without sacrificing stability or strength.


I know this is a long explanation of what I'm trying to do. I hope you can help me work out a plan. Thanks very much for any advice you can offer. 



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Posted 2012-03-16T23:09:36+0000  by k24 k24
Paul, thank you for the link to the SketchUp tutorial. I'll try to spend some time learning SketchUp instead of what I've been doing -- just jumping in and trying to make it do what I want right away! I can't tell you how many hours I've spent trying to "fix" the sketches I made because I started out with something much too complex for a novice. I've seen several of your SketchUp drawings (besides the ones you did for me), also some by an architect friend, and there's lots of good stuff in the Warehouse. Now I'm motivated to learn, if only for the fun of the challenge! Thanks for being such a great "enabler" of new skills! Katie
Posted 2012-03-23T15:13:00+0000  by k24

I'll be looking forward to seeing the finished product. It would be helpful to others if you could post during the construction too...

Posted 2012-03-25T21:20:04+0000  by Paul
OK, I'll document my progress, with photos if possible, and THEN I'll mark it as "Solved" even though you and Chris have given me so much great advice that I'm sure I can do it now! The metal frame should be strong, light weight, and straight-forward to assemble, and it will be attractive with the wood facade over the metal frame. The folding legs and woven air mattress base will make it easy to transform it between bed frame and room divider/screen. I have a few designs in mind for the weaving. I probably can't get to it for a couple of weeks, since I'm still painting, refurbishing the old oak floors, building cabinets and book shelves, and then unpacking after a big move. Never a dull moment with older houses, but this one is solid, and the challenges will be interesting learning experiences! And I know who to ask for expert advice! Thanks again. Update coming soon, I hope! Katie
Posted 2012-03-30T00:44:14+0000  by k24

Katie, how did the frame turn out or are you still working on it?

Posted 2012-06-16T20:41:38+0000  by Paul
Hi Paul, Thanks for asking about my progress. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I've had to put all of my "discretionary" project(s) on hold for a while, but I still want to make this. I think it's eminently do-able, with all the help I've received here! Thanks again and again. I'll be sure to post back when I can make some progress on this. Katie
Posted 2013-01-23T01:40:38+0000  by k24
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