30 DIY Mattress Ideas - No. 5 Bed in a Box Hull Mattress

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Important note: We are not advocating that you actually make these mattresses. They have not been tested and are not approved mattress kits. This is an exercise of the imagination for entertainment purposes only. Think of this as our private design notebook, now opened for everyone to see!

Bed in a Box Historically Inspired Mattress

Wooden Crate Bed

(some links will take you to a product on Amazon.com, others will link to products on our store) 

The definition of a mattress is "a fabric case filled with deformable or resilient material, used for sleeping on".

If you remove the fabric on the pods above, do you still technically have a mattress?

In a way yes, as historically, beds were simply wood boxes raised of the ground filled with locally sourced materials that could be added to, re-fluffed or easily replaced when needed.  Our mattress kit, shown in the customer photo above, was born from thinking about how people used to get a good night's sleep before foam was invented. To make his DIY bed frame, our customer said he purchased 6 off the shelf wood crates and made a box from stock lumber and plywood to put on top. We thought this could also look incredible by using these Mid Century Modern furniture legs.

Could we bring back sleeping in a box filled with natural materials?

We had to try this one for ourselves, especially now that we found a filling we knew would work well: Hemp Hulls and Buckwheat Hulls mixes 50/50 by volume.  

If making this mattress for real, our thought was to purchase this Montessori Bed Queen Size Floor Bed (yep, they make them for adults!) but we would not install the slats.

The frame would look wonderful with a vine style plant growing up it like a trellis and of course, some twinkle lights. 

Historical Bed 

For our sample, we blew up this inexpensive inflatable (bought it used not to add more plastic into the world) to contain our hulls but left the bottom deflated.   

This was our soft "box".  We know from experience the more freedom hulls have to shift and move the more comfortable they are.  If you ever tried a hull pillow and did not like it, I bet it was encased in a static fabric with no stretch.   

The inflatable provided a softer edge which mades getting in and out of bed much easier.  A wood surround would be harder to enter and exit from.  


Buckwheat hull mattress

Our sample:  We used one bulk box of buckwheat hulls (35 lbs) and one bulk box of hemp hulls (48 lbs) to fill a space measuring 29" X 75" X 5" inches deep or 10,875 cubic inches. Our hulls come in bulk boxes that measure 26" X 17" X 12" or about 5,500 cubic inches.

Close up of the perfect mix!

hemp mattress

Hint: Everybody sleeps differently (some more active than others during the night) and a persons weight will affect how this mattress feels. The heavier or more active you are, up the mix to contain more hemp hulls as they stay in place more than buckwheat hulls.  We had to be careful though as just hemp hulls would feel too firm, you need the slippery buckwheat hulls to keep the mattress fillings a bit more fluid.  Like a dry waterbed!  

How did our sample feel?  We just had to make a large enough sample for this mattress to actually sleep on. It felt wonderful, and I could immediately feel that good stretch and alignment through my lower back to my neck that a hull mattress provides.  It is firm but contours to your body but heavier sections of your body will sink in more than say your head and legs. As a back sleeper, it felt absolutely wonderful. I woke very rested and energized but by morning I was sunken in a bit deeper than on our hemp sand mattress which is what I expected. I may try it again without a pillow, just sculpting one out of the hulls in the mattress may work better! 

What we like about this mattress idea:  We would call our sample a minimalists dream, just enough for a good nights sleep. Again every material is 100% biodegradable.  After the life of the mattress, the hulls could be used as an attractive mulch for your landscaping.  Not having to tie your old mattress to the roof of your car or paying someone to discard it was also a bonus that came to mind. Also the money saved having to purchase just the mattress filling can now be spent on buying more plants and twinkle lights :)

Negatives:   We are unsure how this mattress would scale up.  For example just because it works at 29" X 75" for someone weighing 125 lbs does not necessarily mean it would be supportive enough for a Queen (which is 60" X 80") and 2 heavier sleepers.  A deeper layer of hulls and a higher content of hemp hulls would be needed for sure. You would need an extra deep Long Twin fitted sheet that covers the entire box frame. Eventually some hulls will escape but are easy enough to vacuum up.

Future possibilities:  We think this has a great chance as becoming a "not actually a mattress kit" due to the fact that the fillings are not actually encased so it does not fit the definition of a mattress.

This could also be made for a space to meditate on in front of a large picture window with a great view, or a massage table at a spa.