Photo courtesy Flickr
Back in the day, a four-poster was the principal item of furnishing, costing roughly the equivalent of an automobile. Last year we cobbled together an experimental bed out of galvanized conduit and greenhouse fittings. It made a warm and comfortable winter sleeping space hung with fine thread-count cotton drop cloths from the Very Value Hardware chain.
This season I installed a plywood top in imitation of the Elizabethan version of a four-poster. The project was trivial, just cut, paint, drill four holes, and lash to the conduit with zip ties. It is not unsightly to store spare sleeping bags on the plywood top, and they insulate. The hangings are now trimmed to fit and secured with hot glue. That, too, was a trivial project that took only a couple of hours.
There's no need to heat a room that houses a bed like this. It’s an indoor tent. A real freestanding tent will serve just as well but look unusual. One can cover a tent with a decorative blanket or coverlet to integrate it with a conventional space.
Gradually, I am storing small inventory, like clothing and bedding, in trunks. Packing cubes and envelopes from the Great Big Hiking Co-op keep the contents organized. We’ve accumulated a motley collection of tool chests, hope chests, travel trunks, and military foot lockers. The system is flexible and convenient. It’s calmer to observe one chest than a stack of eight drawers or a shelf of umpteen items. A chest is instant seating, a ready side table, or, with companions and covered self-inflating air mattresses, a banquette.
Yesterday I was fiddling with stowing sleeping bags on top of the bed Transylvania-style. I found myself pulling a heavily carved chest on magical sliders toward the structure to step up. The carving offered good footing for my toes. As I pushed the chest back to its coffee table position I realized I had reinvented the Japanese stair chest, used in traditional houses to gain access to overhead areas. No doubt the stair chest was originally a collection of storage boxes.
A chest that’s full is stable, convenient, and easy to secure. In the Middle Ages, the dominant couple slept in the four-poster and the rest of the household slept on the row of chests against the wall. A hall house could be as small as four hundred square feet, and there might be ten or more persons sleeping in the space.
-30- More after the jump.