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When I moved to Chico, I was in a bit of a rush. I was excited to move into a room in a cute house, but my car lacked the capacity to carry a mattress. I ended up renting a twin bed and mattress from my landlord. However, I wanted to live and sleep like the queen that I am but without the bourgeois budget. So, being a DIY-or-die sort of fellow, I decided to research how to make my own mattress. Wool, cotton, and polyester all seemed expensive, so I decided that I'd try straw first.
Once I made the straw mattress in early January, it sat on my bedroom floor for two weeks. It was pretty comfortable at first, but it soon became lumpy and too low to the floor for my preference. I decided to build a bed frame, or buy a cheap platform frame from WalMart. It turned out that my father had a couple double bed frames in his garage, and he could bring one to me.
I ended up getting this lovely black metal canopy bed frame, covered in dust, and missing some hardware. At this point I also had a queen size straw mattress with no way to support it, as the bed frame required a box spring. So I brainstormed. I had read about straw mattresses being held up by rope bed frames, and I wondered if I could somehow convert this cheap metal frame into a rope bed.
I did it. Thankfully, the side rails are sturdy. I put 2x4s across the head and foot to keep the rails from scooting inward, and then I wrapped 100 feet of paracord around the rails. I blistered my hands trying to get it tight enough. I heaved the mattress on top. I was terrified the first night that my weight might break the ropes or side rails. The side rails bent inward, and the paracord stretched, but nothing bad happened.
Understanding the market
There are free or cheap used mattresses available constantly, especially in college towns where people move out every few months. They may contain bedbugs, or some people just aren't comfortable sleeping on a used mattress. I simply lacked a way to transport a large mattress.
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The main factors that I sought in a mattress are as follows:
- Low waste
- Low Cost
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The following table shows costs for mattress and bed, assuming the frame is free.
|Rice Straw Bale||1 (3 string)||Feed Store||$8|
|Para Cord||2 (50 ft each||Home Depot||$5|
|2x4 x8ft Lumber||2||Home Depot||$5|
|$50 + tax|
I plan to empty out the mattress if I move in 6 months, or perhaps earlier if needed. I’ll use the old straw, as well as current extra straw, for compost and garden mulch. I also need to make sure the mattress is fluffed up and evenly distributed every once in a while. It tends to sink into the spaces between the ropes, but it has no lumps.
Two months later, I'm still sleeping on the straw mattress and rope bed. I'm a very light sleeper, but it's working for me. I have some issues with the mattress squishing down in between the ropes, but this is so much better than leaving it on the floor.
Overall, I absolutely recommend making a straw mattress and rope bed combination. Just make sure your ropes and frame are sturdy.
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Bryce Goldstein firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com