On the House | Teen son deserves a new bed, furniture

Posted: August 12, 2007

I don't know why I thought it necessary to keep repairing my son's bed for so long.

In the first place, the bed, at age 23, stopped owing us anything years ago. As I recall, we bought it for our older son when he transferred out of the crib because, like our platform bed, this one had to be assembled and thus could be carried up two narrow, Queen Village-style rowhouse stairways.

The bed was made of light wood, assembled with dowels, bolts and barrel nuts, and was enclosed on three sides. It had a trundle bed that slid underneath it, although we probably used it only once.

When my older son graduated to a double bed in high school, Patrick assumed ownership. The bed started its decline - probably because of age, assembly and reassembly over several moves, and the weight of the occupant - three years ago.

The first two times it needed repairs, the fix was simple: replacement dowels and a couple of nails. The last time, in April, repair was out of the question.

I disassembled the bed, salvaging the wood and the bolts and nuts for future projects. The mattresses were thin and worn, and they went out in the trash.

Pat relocated to his brother's bed in the room next door, since Nick visits only at Christmas and only if I promise to make ravioli from Severino's once while he's home.

Pat didn't mind the six-week exile - this bedroom had desktop access to YouTube, and he was spending most of his evenings there anyway.

But Emmy, our beagle, was inconsolable. Pat's old bed was her daybed - they shared the room - and she had to find other places to nap.

Pat recently turned 18, and since he'll be living with us for the foreseeable future, we thought he deserved a room more adult and more his.

Everything in his room was secondhand. The bed was his brother's; the chair was made by his great-grandfather, who gave it to his mother; the bookcases were his brother's; the rolltop desk and dresser were given to his brother by our friends when we moved from tight-squeeze Queen Village to the wide-open plains of Colonial Revival Mount Airy.

My wife wanted to find a full-size bed with drawers underneath, so we could move the dresser out and give Pat more room. It had to be real wood and light, to match the bookcases, too, and she found possibilities on the Internet.

We would need to buy a mattress locally, which I didn't anticipate would be a problem since we've bought a couple within the last few years and the outlet seemed perfectly acceptable.

Though the Internet search was fruitful, what we found wasn't exactly what we had in mind. So we hit up a few furniture stores, and even the big blue box where we acquired the bookcases.

Ikea's one offering was close, but no cigar. The furniture-store inventory included nothing we had in mind, and it still cost $3,000 to start.

Back to the Internet, where we found a pine bed with a headboard and four drawers that fit snugly underneath, and, as it worked out, easily accommodated Patrick's extensive T-shirt collection.

We bought insurance coverage for the delivery, because a lot of things can happen to six boxes between here and California. We also paid extra for more careful handling, which consisted of a skinny guy on a truck carrying the boxes in while I quickly opened them to check the contents.

Patrick volunteered to help me assemble the bed. It looked fine to us.

Mattress shopping was quick, but not painless. Have you tried to buy a plain new mattress recently? When you test-drive, you start with the Cadillac and roll all the way down to the Yugo, guided by a "doctor of sleepology."

We settled on the $400 Jetta and a $50 delivery fee.

Like any teen, Pat spends a lot of his free time on the new bed. So far, we've heard no complaints - except from Emmy. It's too high for her to climb onto for a nap.

She's moved to the living room couch when no one is looking.

"On the House" appears Sundays in The Inquirer. Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or aheavens@phillynews.com.

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