Perks of Life in Thailand: Bamboo Furniture

Life has been pretty busy for us since getting back from Chiang Mai two weeks ago.  I’ve been working hard at the farm while the entire family (myself included) has been fighting off colds.  A selfish joy in the midst of the hard work and sickness, though, has been the arrival of our new bamboo bed-frame.

Except for our small 4-person dinner table, all our seating and sleeping furniture has been built by a high-quality bamboo furniture designer, Gai, who has a shop out of his house here in town.  His work is top-notch, and he is more than happy to collaborate with designs submitted by his clients.

20160218_091511When we first moved into our house, a coffee table was at the top of our furniture list.  Thankfully, Gai had recently started using new interlaced bamboo plywood as desk- and tabletops.  I specified the size and height and we had the table within a few days.  It now serves every function we need, from dinner table to school desk to TV stand.

20160218_091558Pretty much every wood chair we have found in Thailand has a flat bottom and most have an upright, flat back.  This makes for an non-ergonomic situation and is less than ideal for lounging in the evenings.  When we went by the bamboo shop one day, we saw these reclining bamboo-hammock chairs.  They were exactly what I’d been looking for, so we bought them on the spot.  The bamboo is still kind of hard compared to the upholstered furniture we’re accustomed to, but they are a far cry from the flat bottom/back chairs we’ve seen and cushions increase the comfort greatly.

There is a bar in our not-big-enough-for-a-table dining room that faces into the kitchen.  We looked at chairs in furniture shops around town, but they were either too expensive or too eclectic.  Thankfully, Gai has a book with photos of many of his past furniture designs.  Thumbing through the pages, we found a simple bar seat we thought would serve us well.  As a result, it is a rare occasion that either of us adults cooks alone.  The kids love to climb up and see what’s for dinner.  This is usually followed by complaints…

20160218_092231Bed frames are becoming more common, but bunk-beds seem to be pretty rare in Thailand. By the time we decided that we would need a bunk-bed, we were already hooked on our bamboo furniture.  So I designed a two piece bunk-bed for the kids that would be detachable should we ever want to move or separate the beds.  It took a bit of communicating to help Gai understand what I was showing him.  At first, he said he didn’t think he could do it.  But in the end, he made it, and the bed turned out perfect.  The two beds interlock with the use of gravity.  Running up the joint where they meet is a six-inch bamboo rod that makes the connection safe and stable.

The piece de resistance, however, is our new bed with trundle combo.  Our friends have a bamboo bed-frame with uneven bamboo poles as the head board that we fell in love with.  I took a photo of their bed-frame and measurements of our mattress and drew out a design for the frame. Just as with the bunk-bed, Gai was unfamiliar with this design.  I also added another request though.  As our youngest son is almost two, we wanted a more permanent place than a mat on the floor for him to sleep.  So I designed our bed to be high enough for a smaller trundle to be slid underneath for storage during the day.  As an added bonus, there is still room on the other side to store our luggage.

The bed has helped improve our sleep.  We have both been getting over colds, and somehow the elevation off the ground allowed us to breathe better.  Being off the ground will also help protect us from ants. Eventually we will set the bed polls in dishes of chalk to deter ants from climbing up and attacking us in our sleep.

We love all our furniture.  We use it everyday, and it has made our life in this country slightly less foreign, much more comfortable, and generally more Good.

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