Tips on buying a bed

Choosing a bed is the first step in choosing a bedroom set, because the bed is the one piece of furniture that a buyer is least able to compromise on. The bed must be comfortable, and it must be big enough to accommodate all of the sleepers who share it; a couple who sleep with three golden retrievers and an occasional child with a nightmare cannot choose a small bed even if their bedroom is small. If the buyer already has a mattress in mind, the size and style of the bed must accommodate the mattress.

Choose the bed first, and then plan the rest of the bedroom around it. Use the mattress or put lines of tape on the floor to mark how big the bed is and then figure out the size and placement of the other pieces given the size and shape of the bedroom. When planning the room, remember the height of the bed as well as its width and length. Bed frames vary in their height, and mattresses and box springs vary in their thickness. Not all beds are designed to have box springs. Predicting the height of a bed is difficult but important, since a bed must be at a height that is comfortable to get in and out of, and the heights of some of the other furniture pieces in the room, particularly the nightstands, are dependent on the height of the bed. Most bed frames have wooden slats underneath to hold up the mattress and box spring. If these slats are more than about 3 inches apart, it is a sign that the bed frame is of low quality.

Types of Beds

Several common types of beds together with their descriptions, are listed below. Some manufacturers may use alternate names to describe these beds, but these names are fairly standard.

Platform beds: A flat, raised surface supports a mattress without a box spring. Often these beds feature draws underneath. Usually there are no head or footboards, though a separate headboard can be mounted on the wall behind.

Sleigh beds: Sleigh beds have high, curved headboards and footboards and resemble a sleigh.

Poster beds: Poster beds originally used tall posts to support heavy curtains for warmth at night. Now, the posts are simply decorative and can be either tall, reaching to the ceiling, or short.

Slat or panel beds: Slat and panel beds both feature flat head and footboards, often built of distinct wooden panels or open filigrees of metal or wicker.

Day beds: Day beds are designed to function as couches but are large enough to sleep a person comfortably as well. These work well for guest rooms or children’s rooms.

Trundle beds: Trundle beds pull out from under other beds as needed. Some raise up to full height, sometimes doubling the width of the original bed, while others remain low. Trundle beds are also useful for guest bedrooms or the rooms of children who have sleepovers. Neither bed in a trundle set has a box spring.

Bunk beds: These are the familiar stacked beds often used in dormitories and children’s rooms. A good bunk bed is sturdy enough to handle school-aged children.

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