As an author (therefore, by definition, a creative) creativity doesn't end when I walk away from the computer, another manuscript completed, another story told. Creativity is more than that, and this last month, I saw what that looked like.
If my books could be represented in wood, then this is what they would look like. This is the story of how I turned this:
Welcome to the journey from idea to inception, from thought to deed. Welcome to my world!
Like all my books, the idea for my daughters' bedroom makeover came to me as a thought, something I planned on paper, then outworked with my hands.
The designs were quite specific. I needed to think this one out. My girls would be sleeping on this thing, raised up off the floor. If I messed it up only a small amount…
As with all my books, prep comes first, in this form, it was decoration.
That meant I could do this…
It was then time to buy some wood. This I knew I would need to do in two phases. The first would be for the base section of the beds, getting the original beds off the ground. Then I would have the measurements for the upper sections, including the desktops themselves, when I would go for that second, larger order (you'll see how much wood I bought in the videos that follow).
Space was a bit of an issue. As was how to put the first two-metre lengths together. Thankfully creativity came to the rescue! Here's the video version of this stage:
As I was building this thing live, I knew I needed to factor in several things to the design to allow for slight differences, things that could be worked through once the bed was actually in the air. I didn't fancy having to take anything apart again.
A spirit-level is important for making sure you are building on a level foundation. Kind of like the plum line of my novels. Is the central theme sound? Thankfully, in both formats, I'm square.
I also wanted much of the fixings to be hidden in the design. That's shown in the top right photo above, this part of my inner square within the lower framework, something I could cover and therefore then hide the screws.
These photos also show the support I used that I would sit the desktop onto because I didn't want to screw down from the desktop, but attach it from underneath through the supports. The middle image shows how I overcame the chance that when lifting the beds up and into place, perhaps there would need to be some adjusting. This section was only screwed into place once the bed was attached, thereby allowing a few millimetres grace. This all allowed me to get to this, the video below shot just before I lifted the bed onto the newly built structure.
It took me two days of work to get that first bed up (albeit this time involved all the cuts of wood for both beds) but like it was with my novels (the first one, Cherry Picking, took me over seven years to write, the next not even three––I've since planned, written, edited and published a book all within six months) having done something once, second time around the whole process is much quicker. Yes, I had learned something first time. But it's more than that. I knew I had it in me now whereas, perhaps, that first time I was still unsure. The second bed was put together and raised up within a morning!
I think the results so far look good! See how many screws have gone into this bed frame…
This meant I could take precise measurements now, and while much of the wood I was about to purchase I would cut on the spot, the desktops were cut to size at the shop and, thankfully, fitted nicely when it came time to put them on. This is the video at the end of the first week of building when the second batch of wood had been purchased.
I needed to borrow a friends car to transport everything home!
The build on this bespoke, dream-room makeover for our daughters could now move into the next phrase. I needed to build another framework to support the desk, and those original drawings came into play again.
Getting the legs level was a little tricky. In all honesty, I got it wrong first time around and had to change desk one once I'd realised this on the second desk. I used the spirit-level and an off-cut of wood to make sure they lined up as best as they could, before I screwed them into place. As storage boxes were going under either end of the desks, the spacing had to allow them to fit through, just another factor I'd had to think about and work into the design.
This meant the desktops could finally go on, and I put a small piece of wood around the side to shape it better, to cover over the edges and neaten it all up. The lip that had been worked out as part of the design (who wants to drop things off the edges of their desk, right?) meant these tops had needed to be made to size. I think the final results are stunning, these photos taken once they were all varnished.
And here's the video version that completes week two of the build:
So far, so good. But I had perhaps the trickiest part to come next. The ladders and bars which now needed putting into place. I worked out how many steps per ladder I would need (six) and how these would space out. I then made the steps first, the design once more intended for there to be no screws showing in the final version.
Once again, building the first one made the second one much quicker.
Now I was racing through the project, and I had the end of week three as the deadline. I wanted our daughters back into their room on the Friday night. I always wanted there to be some privacy for them both. They are sharing a room, but when working at their desks (who would have thought before this virus that so much homeschooling would be needed!) why not give them some space? It would also build in some storage, and in my view help hold the beds together even more solidly. All wins for me.
As with all my books, I love depth and hidden gems. This carpentry project offered me no end of options for little touches everywhere. There are even two secret shelves that allow our girls to run free with their imaginations. I hid a chocolate bar there for them to find.
I measured the base into place first. It would only be screwed into place once I'd tested the frame above it fitted. The goal was to have as few screws showing as possible. I achieved this for the base by only screwing down into the frame on the edges, knowing the sections above would cover it.
The backs I did screw into place, some screws showing (but these would get covered later) then working out the shelving positions by placing pieces of wood and glueing into place each holder. The shelves themselves, each cut to size, are free-standing. My daughter has already removed one to allow her to stand some taller items up. I love the flexibility!
This video shows partway through the process (shot before the shelves went in).
Then the great point when the beds were completed! Yay for me!
This enabled me to shoot some cool publicity material with my books involved.
Needless to say, our daughters have used their shelves for other items (though the book will show up again posing somewhere else below––the showoffs!)
As you will have seen in the original bedroom, the wardrobes were all going––so what about storage? That was (mostly) solved by IKEA, an order put in, the boxes arriving during the first week (I think they were in one of the videos, right?) and NOW it was time to get to them.
However, as beautiful as the IKEA units were, they weren't quite complete. I dreamt up a workable solution, together with another beautiful piece of wood (can you tell, I LOVE working with special wood!) that would add in a hanging rail for them each, plus a splendid looking bookshelf as their old one was moving out to my study (I'll revamp it as part of my study makeover, so watch this space for that!).
I know the bark might not stay on these pieces forever, but they are stunning. I couldn't resist. For the hanging rail, in the end, all I did was glue two pieces of wood into place in a V formation, allowing the rail to sit on them, the positioning measured and make sure it's consistent. Everything else is free standing.
The beauty of this is that it means, for the small price of another couple of wooden poles, is that should they ever need more hanging space, all I need to do is shift out the units at either end another ten or twenty centimetres, and cut two new rails into place… and they instantly have more space without the need for another wardrobe. I love the simplicity of that. For now, I think the fifty centimetres is ample. Look how good that beautiful shelf looks with some even more special books on it:
I did warn you they were posers! And for the video version of how the IKEA ensemble looks, here you go:
Which brings me to the end, the final show, the big reveal. This is #Project1 because there will be more. Perhaps not as full-on as this one (though wait until you see the kitchen version!), but each room in our apartment will be getting a makeover. I will be sure to share with you here what each of these is.
I really hope you've enjoyed this overview and that, if you are planning your own project, it has given you some exciting ideas. Do let me know in the comments on the videos if you've done your own versions of things! Also, if you are a reader and love a good book, then now that you have seen how my mind creates, what I'm capable of, perhaps you might be interested in checking out my books? Or dive right in with by bestselling standalone novel The Tablet––or if you love a series, then you have to read The Prey. Book seven in that series will come out in the first week of June 2020.
Thanks for reading!