How hard can it be to buy a new bed? Easy, I foolishly imagined. How much difference can there be between one bed and the next?
I can now say with certainty that I have since had my eyes opened to the incredibly surprising number of choices to take into account.
Where the decision used to be as simple as going to a furniture or department store and pointing at your favorite, the process is nowhere near as straightforward as I originally imagined.
Of course, you should always trust your instinct and choose the most eye-catching design – the one that jumps out and shouts “pick me!” But, while you’re busy thinking about what kind of mattress you want, how much thought have you ever given to what’s underneath it? The frame.
Never in my wildest dreams could I imagined the incredibly surprising range of choice on offer. So, in order to simplify the process when you’re next picking out your pillows, we’ve drawn up a list of the most common styles and designs you’ll encounter, to help you navigate the world of slumber, and make the decision with your eyes shut.
Ask a friend to draw a bed, and this is probably what you’ll see. A mattress held off the ground, on a solid platform, or frame with four legs.
While there are newer, floating styles, this is still a traditional design which has stood the test of time.
Since this frame does not need box springs, (it discourages you from using them in fact), all you need is a frame, a mattress, and a place to put it to get your 40 winks.
One look at the picture here and you’ll instantly see how this bed gets its name.
Historically, the scroll-shape head and footboards are made from solid blocks of wood. Nowadays however, there are also more modern interpretations, finished with metal, or a fabric covering.
This classic design, like the bed itself, is sturdy and reliable, and with a beloved visitor travelling by sleigh every December, it’s hard to imagine this style going out of fashion any time soon.
These frames are both beautiful and diverse, and with designs available in classic and contemporary varieties, you will surely sleep like a prince or princess in one.
Four Poster Bed
This must surely be the most recognizable form of poster beds. The head and footboards include, or are replaced by two posts, giving the bed its name. These posts may then also be joined together to form a frame or canopy.
A poster bed on a diet – the pencil poster features four posts, which are often slimmer than the original, and taper at the top, resembling, you guessed it, pencils.
Often, the posts will be adorned with decorative carvings or designs, and while the tips are historically “pencil-shaped” modern varieties may have spherical, or other interpretations on the original design.
Low Poster Bed
A shorter cousin of the classic poster bed, this style is perhaps more appropriate for those of us who don’t have the pleasure of sleeping in grand palatial bedrooms.
The only difference between this design and its relatives is the height – the posts can come in the original or pencil style. Perhaps due to its convenient size, this is the most common form of poster bed today.
Half Poster Bed
A modern reimagining of the original posters, the asymmetrical half-poster bed has pairs of posts at uneven heights, with those at the foot of the bed being lower than those at the head.
Despite its more modest size, this bed adds a classic touch to any contemporary-style bedroom, with its shorter structure ideal for smaller bedrooms and apartments.
In short, a canopy bed is a poster bed with the posts interconnected by horizontal beams. This forms a frame which can be left open, or covered with a canopy.
Go one step further and fit the frame with curtains or drapes, and you instantly have an iconic fairy-tale design – the perfect addition for the bedroom of any would-be Disney princess or medieval knight.
Providing ample storage space, the divan bed is ideal for smaller bedrooms. Similar to a platform bed, it features a hollow platform under the mattress with several drawers, providing room to put extra bedding, your collection of shoes, or anything else you so desire.
Another feature which gives this bed an edge over its rivals is the headboard, which is often upholstered, thereby providing far more comfort when sitting up, reading or watching TV.
The original futon bed, in its native Japan, wasn’t even a bed, but a thin mattress placed on the floor. Perfect or visitors, it could be put down in any spare room, and then rolled up for storage in the day.
Western adaptations have since done away with the rolling and added a permanent wooden frame, which has in turn led to the mattresses becoming thicker, and more comfortable.
Futon Sofa Bed
An updated form of the futon which reclaims its original purpose as a temporary bed. Instead of a simple bed frame, the mattress is instead folded inside a sofa, to increase both space, and seating areas, in the daytime. At night, the sofa cushions can then be unfolded, along with its slatted frame, to form a bed.
A great solution for smaller guest bedrooms or living rooms where saving space is a must, this bed will still allow you to invite guests at your heart’s content.
Similar to a divan bed, an ottoman bed frame features not drawers, but one large storage box hidden within the frame.
The mattress is then placed on the hinged surface of the frame. This can then be lifted to grant access to the space underneath.
A true bed for the 21st century. The TV bed combines technology with comfort for the perfect viewing experience.
The upholstered headboard provides superior comfort, but it’s the footboard that conceals the magic with this design. That’s because secreted within said footboard, is a flat-screen TV.
At the press of a button, this can be elevated or retracted, whenever you want to binge a new series, or dig out the popcorn and re-watch your favorite movies.
Some designs may even include more space alongside the TV for additional media such as a games console. What more could you want?
A bed within a bed, the trundle bed is comparable to a divan bed with its hollow underside, but with a second mattress on wheels (instead of drawers), which slides out of the frame underneath the main mattress.
The ease and speed of transforming one bed into two makes this a great solution for children’s rooms. When play-space is vital, these beds offer a solution for sleeping multiple kids without sacrificing extra room.
Adults should not immediately rule out this design however. Whether you’re a new parent, or expecting, a second bed next to your own is the perfect place when your little one is feeling ill or scared, and wants to be near to you for comfort and reassurance.
A great space saving solution for students, or smaller apartments in general, the loft bed is a bunk bed, minus one bunk.
Where a bunk bed normally has the lower bed, the loft bed offers free space for you to fill with anything you need, the most common additions being desks, wardrobes, or even a sofa.
There are no limits to your options with this bed, with a range of sizes available, and some designs even let you set and adjust the height of the top bunk. Your only restrictions are your room size and your imagination.
A modified divan bed, this design is all about maximizing space, both horizontal and vertical. As well as the drawers typically found in divans, this style may also include extra space in the footboard, or even a bookshelf fitted into the headboard, a literary delight for every bookworm.
Otherwise, the design can vary to accommodate different-sized mattresses, or head and footboards of different styles and woods, with or without upholstering.
For many, so-called adjustable “hospital beds” might sound unappealing, maybe even a little scary, but let me try and convince you of the many benefits of this ergonomic design.
First of all, sleeping with your head and feet raised relative to your chest can have a wealth of benefits, such as relieving back pain, improving blood circulation, and reducing heartburn.
Others claim that the extra comfort afforded by these beds helps them fall asleep faster and relax better before bed, not forgetting the rather selfish bonus of having a more comfortable place to sit, read or watch TV. Some models even include a massage feature to help you unwind in style.
And if you’re still not convinced, let me ask you a question. Do you sleep, or tolerate sleeping with, a snorer? If so, you’ll be all to-familiar with the pain of listening to the endless snorting, grating and bubbling while you try to finally drop off.
Well, some say that sleeping with your head raised in this bed can put a stop to this torture, as the extra height eases air flow in the body. Have I won you over? I thought so.
Folding / Murphy / Wall Bed
When is a bed not a bed? When it’s in the wall. That’s right, the folding, or murphy, bed doesn’t stand, slide or fold, but swings down out of the wall for your guests, before being completely hidden away again in the morning. Just make sure your visitor is awake and out of bed first.
Modern variants of this style even include sofas or shelves, doubling as the bed’s base or frame when lowered, a perfect match for those with little room to spare.
Pull Out Sofa
Perhaps the most common and simplest temporary bed, most people have probably slept on several in their lives. A sofa which unfolds into a bed.
While the mattress (which doubles as the sofa’s seat cushions) may be a little firm, and not the best solution for long-term guests, the benefit is the huge range of styles and designs available in bed AND sofa shops.
A deviously simple solution to seating and sleeping, a day bed is a sofa, minus the padded back and arm/s. It is perhaps the most convenient on this list, as all you need for a good night’s sleep (or brief daytime nap) is a pillow, and a blanket or duvet.
However all this comes with one caveat. Its open and straightforward design often means a mountain of cushions is needed to make sitting on this bed possible, never mind comfortable.
If you didn’t share a bunk bed with a sibling, you probably slept in one in a dorm, hostel or guesthouse somewhere. While they might appeal to children (who can’t get excited about sleeping in a bed accessed up a ladder) we believe they can find a new lease of life among all the big kids out there too.
As with loft beds, this design has lots of potential for storage, but most importantly, bunk beds are branching out to have larger, comfortable and stylish beds, suitable for all adults who are still children at heart.