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Beds Buying Guide
A Buyer’s Guide to Bedroom Furniture
With so many options to choose from, buying bedroom furniture can be a little overwhelming. Even after deciding to purchase the most obvious piece of bedroom furniture, a bed, you will be faced with further choices such as what kind of bed do you want, in what style and should it have a headboard and footboard or neither? Do you want a dresser or a chest of drawers? Should you select a dresser with a mirror or purchase a freestanding full length one? The answer to these questions mostly depends on two things—personal preference and the size of the room. To give you an idea of how and what to choose, the following is a brief guide to buying bedroom furniture for a master bedroom or a guest room.
A typical bedroom suite consists of the bed, a dresser, and at least one nightstand.
A bed is a piece of furniture specifically designed for sleeping. A standard bed consists of a mattress resting on springs, supported by a flat, rectangular frame.
Beds/mattresses come in a variety of sizes—listed below are the standard mattress sizes to keep in mind when purchasing a bed.
Twin/Single 39” W 75” L
Twin X-Long/Extra long single 39” W 80” L
Double/Full 54” W 75” L
Queen 60” W 80” L
King/Eastern king 76-78” W 80” L
California King/Western king 72” W 84” L
- Some manufacturers will feature mattresses that are several inches smaller or larger than industry standards. If you choose to purchase a custom size, before making a final decision, make sure that you will be able to buy bedding for the size of mattress you have selected.
- If you are purchasing just a headboard, check to see that it matches the frame/mattress size.
Types of Beds
Sleigh beds are characterized by a headboard and footboard that roll outwards, imitating a horse-drawn sleigh. The height of the headboard determines how prominent the bed will be in the context of the room. If you want the bed to be the focal point of your bedroom, choose a taller headboard/footboard; if you want the feel of a sleigh bed but without the impact of showpiece furniture, select a shorter headboard.
Four poster beds have four posts at each corner of the frame. Originally designed to support curtains or upholstered panels that enclosed the bed, today, the term generally refers to a bed without drapery. The posts can be of equal or varying height and can be tall or short, short defined as the post being 3 feet high. A pencil bed is a type of four poster named for its tall, thin, tapered posts.
The canopy bed is essentially a four poster bed with a covering. Canopies are made from a variety of materials, including wood and roped wire. A canopy frame can be added to most four poster beds where the posts of the bed are of equal height. When purchasing a four poster or canopy bed, make sure that the ceiling height will allow a few inches of space between the ceiling and the posts or the top of the canopy.
Platform beds consist of a raised platform or frame, which supports the mattress without aid of a box spring. For this reason, they are considered to be the most economical type of bed since you will only need to purchase a regular innerspring or futon mattress. A platform bed is ideal for decorating average or smaller sized rooms, because the bed is generally not as high as a standard bed; using a platform bed as the focal point will make the room appear larger and more spacious.
Panel beds have headboards and footboards that are usually all of one piece, without spindles or slats, and are straight up and down, so that they can stand flat against the wall. Panel detailing is mostly vertical. As a variation on the typical panel bed, some do include decorative slats that allow you to partially see through the headboard/footboard. Common architectural details used in panel beds are raised panels, inset panels and the popular arched tri-panel design.
Adjustable beds, also known as motion beds, can be adjusted vertically or horizontally at a touch of a button. They are a popular choice for people who have back pain, can’t get in or out of bed easily, recovering from surgery or just want to the luxury of customizing the bed to their requirements.
Originating from Japan, the futon bed was not introduced to North America until after World War II. Today futons are a stylish popular choice for decorating guest rooms, dens and living rooms, because they can be used as a couch during the day and converted into a bed at night. A variation on the sofa bed, futons are lighter and more user-friendly, because they don’t include a box spring like a hide-a-bed does.
The dresser is probably the second most important piece of bedroom furniture. Intended to hold clothing, a typical dresser consists of two columns of three drawers. In addition to this standard configuration, a dresser might also include a row of shallow drawers. When decorating a small bedroom or even if you simply want additional room to put your sweaters and t-shirts, consider purchasing a dresser with more rather than less drawers. The term “drawer dresser” refers to a dresser that has only drawers. A “door dresser” describes a dresser with a door placed in the center, which opens to reveal pull-out trays, a cubbyhole or a set of shelves, depending on the style/manufacturer. A door dresser tends to be larger than a drawer dresser.
Designed to stand at a proportional height level with the bed, a nightstand keeps lamps, books, clocks and other necessary objects within easy reach. Nightstands maximize storage space, allowing you to organize items and tidy them away. Some nightstand drawers are felt lined to protect delicate items. They can be a set of drawers, a mixture of drawers and shelves or a combination of open or enclosed cabinets for storing or displaying items. Two nightstands are generally placed one on either side of the bed, especially when two people share the bedroom. If you are purchasing a nightstand separately, choose one that is on the same scale as your existing furniture—for example, a small narrow nightstand will be dwarfed by a king size bed with a large headboard.
Additional Bedroom Furniture Pieces
In relation to a bedroom suite, mirrors can be divided into four general categories.
The full length dressing mirror is usually attached to a wall, the back of a door or the inside of a cupboard door. Some types of dressing mirrors are mounted on a stationary stand, allowing you to physically reposition the mirror wherever it is needed—the angle of the mirror itself cannot be changed. A dressing mirror not only helps a person to see their image from head to toe, but as with any mirror, it can enhance your décor by making the room appear more spacious.
The full length cheval mirror, like the dressing mirror, allows a person to check out their appearance from top to bottom. However, cheval mirrors are freestanding and fastened with hinges to a frame, allowing the user to rotate or angle the mirror for a better view. The tabletop version of the cheval mirror is usually used with a bathroom or bedroom vanity; it can also be placed on top of a dresser or chest of drawers.
The single mirror can be mounted on the wall over the dresser or attached to the dresser itself. Most manufacturers of bedroom furniture will offer dresser mirrors, ones that either come with the dresser or can be purchased individually. These mirrors will be in scale, meaning that the shape of the mirror will be in proportion to the size of the dresser. If you are purchasing a mirror separately for a dresser you have on hand, make sure that you select one that is the proper scale.
The tri-fold mirror, also referred to as a tri-view mirror, has three sections, two of which are adjustable: the main wider section is flanked by two, hinged narrower segments. The user can position the two movable sections to see the face in profile or the back of the head. If you would like the option of fully closing the mirrors, check to see that the back is completely finished. Typically, the tri-fold mirror is mounted to the dresser, but it can also be fastened to the wall by securing the center section only.
A chest of drawers, often referred to simply as a chest, is an upright piece of furniture that has several rows of drawers designed to hold clothes and other personal items. Typically, they are taller than they are wide. While there are many different kinds and styles to choose from, chests are usually made of wood. If your bedroom is narrow or small, select a chest instead of a dresser, since chests use the space in the room vertically (up the wall) rather than horizontally (across the floor).
A chest-on-chest, also known as a tallboy, is a tall set of drawers in two or more sections; the bottom section being slightly larger. A chest-on-chest can also be constructed as one unit and only appear, by the use of architectural detailing such as moldings and false fronts, to be separate sections one on top of the other.
A highboy resembles a chest-on-chest in that it consists of two sets of drawers, one above the other. But the upper section of the highboy rests on a table-like base with one or two rows of drawers supported by long legs, usually a minimum of 15 inches in height.
When the smaller chest or base is used by itself, it is called a lowboy. At the time the highboy and lowboy first became popular in the 18th century, the lowboy was often used as a dressing table and sometimes as a side table, much like we would use a nightstand today. A lowboy is generally stands no taller than four feet.
A lingerie chest, also known as a chiffonier, is a narrow set of drawers typically used to hold lingerie and undergarments. Because they are narrow, they tend to take up less room than other kinds of chests, and for this reason, are often used to store any type of clothing in a room where space might be an issue. Lingerie chests can also include a small cupboard placed either above or below the set of drawers.
A door chest is a cabinet or shelves or a combination of both, enclosed by hinged doors and place above a set of usually deep drawers. Door chests with adjustable shelves can accommodate smaller sized televisions or stereo systems. A door chest can resemble an armoire, but it is usually smaller in scale, standing less than 50 inches. Some manufacturers use the terms armoire and door chest interchangeably.
An armoire is a tall cupboard that includes shelving and was typically used to store clothing or linens. Today, however, the traditional armoire has evolved and adapted into a versatile piece of furniture intended for a variety of uses.
A wardrobe armoire is an excellent way to add additional storage, even if your bedroom does have a closet. It allows you to conveniently store and organize a variety of clothing, accessories and bed linens. An armoire with a clothing bar will allow you to hang suits, shirts and blouses. Once the doors are closed, a wardrobe armoire is an airtight environment that will also protect your clothes from sun and humidity. If you can afford the space, consider selecting a deep case designed wardrobe armoire; it will provide you with more storage than units of lesser depth.
Since electronic equipment can distinctly alter the mood of a bedroom, TV armoires are the ideal solution. More compact than other types of entertainment centers, they feature swinging, double-hinged doors that can be folded back on either side to allow the television to be clearly seen when viewing, but hidden out of sight when not in use. Many TV armoires will have a fixed shelf for the television and adjustable shelves for other components or items. Typically, TV armoires include drawers—narrower drawers will be more practical for holding DVD’s, CDs, etc. while wider drawers will be better for stowing clothes or bedding.
Jewelry armoires are designed to arrange and store your jewelry in a safe, protected environment. They are characterized by a number of stacked drawers for storing jewelry, side doors complete with hooks for hanging necklaces and lined compartments or drawers to prevent valuable rings, earrings and bracelets from being scratched. They are freestanding, sitting directly on the floor or resting on legs, and can be one to two feet wide, ranging in height from three to 4 ½ feet.
Bedroom Accent Furniture
Bedroom accent furniture pieces will enhance your décor while improving the functionality of your room, by adding focal points and personal touches that create visual interest.
Arranged to perfectly suit your needs, bedroom vanities give you a place to organize your toiletries and put the finishing touches on your makeup. Many will come with a matching bench or chair to give you a place to sit when applying face cream or brushing your hair. They can include adjustable mirrors and drawers in a number of sizes.
Bed benches are a convenient spot for putting on shoes, setting down a purse, or depositing a stack of laundry until it can be stashed away. They can range from upholstered benches to chest benches for added storage. A storage bench at the end of a bed in a master or guest bedroom is a practical yet decorative way to disguise clutter.
Blanket racks are generally multi-tiered to allow you to store several comforters, blankets or bedspreads at one time. Not only will your blankets be easily accessible, you will be able to display decorative comforters or heirloom quilts. In a guest room, a blanket rack is the ideal place to keep extra bedding that is within reach. They don’t have to be used just for blankets; you can use your blanket rack for shawls, scarves or towels.
A storage chest resembles a large rectangular box with a lid, designed to store blankets, comforters and seasonal clothing. A cedar chest is a popular type of storage chest due to the wood’s natural ability to repel insects, resist dampness or decay and retain its fresh scent for many years.