How to Make a Moroccan Sofa Bed Using Reclaimed Lumber
The spread of the British Empire brought a wide variety of new furnishings to domestic decor, including the exotic and seductive Moorish divan. While used in other cultures, "Moorish" became the decorative term encompassing this Moroccan sofa bed and Oriental furnishings of all kinds. Traditionally backless, this seating-guest-bed combination can be constructed from recycled lumber, a twin box-spring/mattress set, colorful fabric and exuberant use of cushions.
Make a hollow box by attaching reclaimed 2-by-6-inch lengths around the plywood base. The base is cut slightly bigger than the box spring and mattress and the hollow box will hold the box spring. Cut two 80-inch lengths of 2-by-6 board for the long sides of the box. Line a length up vertically with the outer edge of the plywood base and secure it with three 4-inch L-brackets. Brackets go on the inner side of the corner formed by the base and the side piece. Repeat with the other long length of 2-by-6 on the other side of the base.
Measure the short sides of the base after you have attached the long sides to the base. The short sides will measure close to or exactly 40 inches and fit snugly between the long side pieces. Stand them vertically and attach them with 4-inch L brackets to the plywood base. Use the 2-inch brackets on the inside corners of the box to attach the short and long sides; two brackets per side should be adequate.
Decorate three sides of the box, two widths and one length, with strips of decorative molding as desired; attach molding with hot glue gun. Let dry completely, then finish all sides of the box frame with dark stain or varnish.
Stain and attach caster-style feet if desired. Choose casters 2 to 3 inches tall, 4 for corners and 2 for the middle of the long sides for stability. Casters usually attach with screws directly into the furniture wood but sometimes come with a metal plate or fixture between the leg and furniture. Drill holes and attach as directed.
Use flannel and sheet foam to disguise lumber with an unattractive or difficult-to-refinish surface. Staple sheet foam to the sides of the box frame, then cover with tightly-stapled flannel, so as not to hamper insertion of the box spring in the frame. This provides some insulation against barking shins or ankles against the wood frame when sitting down or getting off the sofa. Finish the frame by covering all visible lumber with one of the fabrics you are using to cover the mattress and cushions. Place the box spring inside the frame once you have covered it with fabric.
Measure fabric for the box spring so that it will wrap around the top and sides, leaving an overhang of 4 to 6 inches that can be stapled to the wooden box-spring base. Fabric may not be wide enough to cover in a single length. Cut two lengths, place them face-to-face (right-side-to-right-side), and machine-stitch them together with a seam that begins 2 inches from the outer edge of the fabric. Fold down the loose edges, spreading them away from the seam and stitch them flat against the back side of the fabric for greater stability. Staple fabric smoothly to the box-spring edge along the sides. Gather any excess fabric at the corners in small folds and staple them down.
Cover the mattress with a box-style slipcover. Measure and cut top and bottom fabric 44 by 80 inches. Cut four more pieces, two 44 inches, two 80 inches and all 4 inches wider than the mattress is deep - example: 14 inches wide for a 10-inch deep mattress. All fabric should be wrong-side out; use pins as needed at each assembly step. Allowing a 2-inch seam, machine stitch all side strips to the top cover. Fold flat the excess at each corner and line up folded edges to make the "box." Machine-stitch side strips to form box corners, leaving one set of short-side corners open. Attach the stitched strips to the bottom fabric. You now have a 3-sided cover with an opening for the mattress. Turn the cover right-side out. Slide the cover over the mattress. Pin and hand-stitch the open side strip and corners to complete the cover.
Make cushion covers from a variety of bright fabrics for a Middle-Eastern look. Square or rectangular bed-shaped pillows can be covered quickly and easily. Measure fabric three times as long as the longest pillow side (for a 16-inch pillow you need a 48-inch length of material) and 4 inches wider than the width. (18 inches wide for a 16-inch pillow). Pin or baste a 4-inch fold at each end of the fabric, backside-to-backside. Wrap the fabric around the pillow, right side facing the pillow, overlapping the folded edges in the center of one side. Pin fabric edges to make the pillowcase. Ease the pillow out and stitch the pinned case. Pillows slip in and out for cleaning. For round or bolster-shaped pillows, seek out patterns.
Things You Will Need
- Reclaimed or new sheet of 1/2 inch plywood cut to 44-by-80 inches
- Enough 2-by-6-inch reclaimed lumber to surround the box spring (19 to 20 board feet)
- 8 L brackets and screws, 2-inch
- 10 L brackets and screws, 4-inch
- Hand or power screwdriver
- 1 twin sized box spring (39-by-75 inches)
- 1 twin sized mattress
- Wooden caster-style furniture feet, optional
- A helper, optional
- FOR LUMBER IN GOOD SURFACE CONDITION:
- Reclaimed or new decorative wood trim, to decorate 1 length and 2 widths of wood frame (13 board feet)
- Hot-glue gun
- Dark-toned wood stain or varnish and applicator
- FOR LUMBER IN POOR SURFACE CONDITION:
- Flannel yardage to cover visible lumber
- 1/4-inch sheet foam to cover visible lumber
- Staple gun
- Fabric to slipcover both box spring and mattress
- Foam pillow forms, 24 inches square or larger, 18 inches square or smaller, Bolster shapes to function as armrests
- A variety of fabrics to cover pillows
- Scissors and hand sewing equipment or sewing machine
- In spite of the attraction of filmy silks, choose tightly-woven hard-finish fabrics for the longest wear. Fabrics containing some silk or rayon are likely to be available in the jewel-bright colors that characterize "Moorish" decor. Gloss and glitter are appropriate, as are fringe and velvety accents.
- Traditionally, pieces like this Moroccan sofa bed are covered with textiles featuring abstract designs. Islamic culture discourages realistic artistic representations of humans, animals and other natural elements.