Zero Waste Bed

Whereas American mattress stores recommend replacing your mattress every seven or eight years, French mattresses age like a Big Mac, lasting a lifetime. After sleeping on a thinner, temperature regulating wool mattress for years, I don't understand America's obsession with overstuffed ones. It's crazy we have no clue what's inside, from largely unregulated chemical layers to dust mite / mice-attracting springs and flame retardants. Despite purported technological innovations (and high markups to match), most people buy the same mediocre mattresses they did twenty years ago, with only nominal differences. My family in Korea sleep on yo (shikibuton), and don't have snoring or sleep apnea or back or allergy problems, unlike my American family. When I found a kit online, I decided to make one myself and was immediately sold. Organic cotton, with pure wool and cotton filling, and six inches thick, I love my bed the way Scott loves Kourtney- in an unstable, yet enduring way. Unlike traditional mattresses, this has a life span of at least twenty years, I just need to air it in the sun occasionally and rotate it on the frame.


While I don't recommend making your own mattress (it's exasperating), you can buy a natural futon or wool mattress online. I like the concept and minimalist design of the Floyd bed, but since I didn't want to roll up my mattress everyday, I needed a frame it could breathe on. Years ago, I saw the Trestle CNC bedframe on Pinterest. Its sturdy slot together construction acts like a skeleton, requiring no tools or screws for assembly, and it's portable, packing flat (I can fit all the pieces for my queen size bed in my car- see my Instagram story highlights for video). To make one yourself, download and take to a makerspace, fab lab, or woodworking shop with a CNC big enough for a 4x8 sheet of plywood (the folder consists of a bunch of files for each size- these are layers- and what's essentially a drawing- that's the CAD file). 


My bed requires two sheets of 3/4 inch plywood, which run around $150 new at big box stores. Instead of FSC certified or formaldehyde free plywood such as PureBond, you can buy salvaged sheets at a Habitat Restore or something similar. In Cleveland, Metro Hardwoods mills lumber from fallen city trees. You'll probably have to purchase a membership at a makerspace or fab lab to rent time on the CNC machine. A month membership at the Columbus Idea Foundry, for instance, is $65. To rent the ShopBot, they require a $47 orientation class (this particular bedframe was cut with a Goliath CNC, which is easier). Renting the machine is then $25 an hour. At a minimum, then, a queen size bed frame would cost about $337, although mine was cheaper since it's made from cabinet grade plywood leftover from somebody else's project.


I use a white Fog Linen flat sheet and H&M linen duvet cover and pillowcases (secondhand from eBay), because I think fitted sheets are barbaric. My pillows are old cotton fill I took from my family, I just washed them in the machine and air dried in the sun. I bought my wool fill and organic cotton duvet in Paris at a mattress shop near Ledru Rollin, and I knew how the sheep were treated (they weren't castrated or killed or cut or anything, the couple that owned the shop were plant based and owned the farm where the sheep lived), although I don't need to justify myself. Synthetics are crueler to animals and people alike. 


It’s nice that the corners are rounded, because in Paris I was always stubbing my shins on the sharp corners of our Habitat bed. The platform leaves just enough room for a glass of water or book beside the mattress, and has plenty of storage space underneath. This frame is unfinished, but you can use linseed oil or Bio Poly Earthpaint to protect yours. Shikibuton and yo are pretty firm, so if that's not for you, the Futon Shop has more traditional mattresses, and on the higher end, Coco Mat or Avocado mattresses are eco-friendly options. I don't really know many sources for sustainable furniture, but West Elm and Ikea make relatively responsibly sourced materials widely available at accessible price points, and strive for minimal packaging (a presumable cost cutting measure). Pajamas, secondhand J Crew.
Paris to Go


  1. Awesome. I thought mattresses were a necessary waste, but you've challenged that view. It looks very stylish too.

    1. And you can recycle or compost these!! Unlike most mattresses.

  2. What kind of plywood did you use? I wish we had access to this kind of equipment in Europe!

  3. Your home is stunning ! The light, the space, the walls, the objects ,..... what else can I expect from you ! You are a zero waste rockstar rebel in your own way.