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Beds Buying Guide


The Versatile Platform Bed


Once considered to be strictly modern, platform beds are now available in a variety of styles and features. Since the platform bed is generally lower to the floor than a standard bed, they can make the room appear larger and more spacious. Platform beds have become increasingly popular in the last decade because they combine the comfort and convenience of a futon with a standard bed frame. Deceptively simple in design, a platform bed is a minimal, rectangular form, often without a headboard or a footboard. Here are some general tips for selecting the platform bed to perfectly fit your room.

Reasons for Buying a Platform Bed

  • If you want to purchase a platform bed for an already furnished room, they are available in a range of styles, sizes, and materials, suited to most decors, from traditional to transitional to modern.
  • Because a platform bed does not use a box spring, it eliminates related problems like popped or squeaky springs.
  • Since you don’t have to buy a box spring, a platform bed is more economical.
  • Without the weight of the box spring to worry about, they are easier to move.
  • Many types of platform beds include under-the-bed drawers, storage boxes or shelving units with sliding doors.
  • Depending on the style, a platform bed can eliminate the space underneath the bed that can contribute to the gathering of allergy irritants like dust and pet dander.

What Size of Platform Bed Do I Need?

Since you will be purchasing a platform bed to fit a particular mattress size, here is a brief outline of the most common sizes available. While most manufacturers conform to standardized measurements, they also might offer “custom” sizes, ones that are slightly smaller or larger than industry standards; before making a final decision, make sure that you will be able to buy bedding for the size of mattress you have selected.

A twin bed, also known as a single bed, is 39” wide and 75” long. Twin beds are a popular choice for a child’s room or a guest room. The extra long single bed is a variation on the regular twin. It is the same width but is 80” long. Because of the additional length, it is better suited for a teen or an adult when furnishing a dorm room or a teen’s bedroom.

The double bed, also called a full bed, is 54” wide and 75” in length. For two people, sleeping space for each person is 27”. It is a popular choice for a single person or a couple furnishing a smaller sized bedroom. When buying a double platform bed, note that many of them will be able to accommodate a queen mattress.

The queen bed is 60” wide and 80” long. Some manufacturers advertise “Olympic” queen beds that are slightly larger than the dimensions of the standard queen bed, and are generally considered to be a custom size. A popular choice for two people needing more room, the sleeping area a regular queen bed for each person is 30”.

The standard king bed is also known as the eastern king. The width is 76" and the length is 80”. It is the widest standard sized bed available. The sleeping area per person is the same as for a twin bed.

The California king bed, also referred to as the western king, is 72” wide and 84” in length. It is the longest standard sized bed available; total sleeping area for one person is 36”.

What Type of Platform Bed should I select?

Sleigh beds are characterized by elegant, curving lines and a distinctive, romantic feel. If you want the bed to be the dominant 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 one with a shorter footboard.

Even though a platform bed is lower to the floor than other types of beds, a four poster bed creates a sense of drama in the room. Characterized by four posts at each corner, they can be of equal or varying height. For a variation on the four poster bed while softening its visual effect, choose a panel bed with carved finials.

The canopy bed is a four poster bed with a covering. Canopies can be made of a variety of materials, including fabric, wood and roped wire detailing. A canopy frame can be added to most four poster beds where the posts of the bed are of equal height. When purchasing a canopy bed, check to see if the material is included; some manufacturers will not include the covering, allowing you the option of matching the canopy to your existing décor.

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 stand flat against the wall. Panel detailing is mostly vertical, but can also be horizontal. Some styles do include decorative slats that allow you to partially see through the headboard. Common architectural features used in panel beds are raised panels, inset panels and the popular arched tri-panel design.

A popular choice for a child’s or teen’s room is the captain’s or mate’s bed. Essentially a type of platform bed, it places the mattress on top of a set of drawers or a combination of drawers and cubbyholes, converting the unused area beneath the bed into convenient storage. They are ideal for decorating a room with limited floor or nominal closet space. To add even more storage options, select a captain’s bed with a bookcase headboard.

What Kind of Material Should I Choose?

Known as an engineered wood, MDF or medium density fiberboard is made by gluing wood fibers together using heat and pressure. Because it is made from recycled materials, MDF is more affordable than solid wood, but is just as strong and durable.

Laminates are formed into sheets of material, produced by pressing layers of plastic, metal or wood together. The surface is then sealed with a thermosetting resin. They are commonly used as a finish for home furnishings because they are durable, easy to care for and economical. A laminate surface can have a simulated wood grain, be a solid color or have a pattern such as stripes.

Wood veneers are created by a similar process as in the making of laminates. Thin slices of real wood are glued to the piece of furniture using heat and pressure. Since it can be applied to any smooth, flat surface, this is a popular material for ready-to-assemble bedroom furniture. Since it is not as expensive to manufacture, it also gives furniture the texture and appearance of genuine solid woods, while keeping costs down.

Considered to be the most durable material for furniture, wood furniture is constructed from timber cut from the trunks of trees like beech, maple or oak. They are more expensive than engineered wood products, a typical bedroom set being anywhere from two to three times more expensive than a similar one made from MDF.

Asian hardwoods, also referred to as parawoods, rubberwoods or tropical hardwoods, are from Southeast Asia. Furniture made from these hardwoods is considered to be ecologically friendly because before the tree is harvested, it was used to produce rubber for approximately 30 years. Properly cured and treated, Asian hardwood is just as strong and durable as other hardwoods.

Metals are a popular material for platform beds because they are strong and durable. Pure metals are generally too soft, too brittle or chemically reactive. Alloys, made by combining two or more metals together, are stronger and more stable. Since all metals are subject to the effects of time and oxidization, you will want to choose a platform bed with a resistant finish or one that is made of scaled metal. Frames made from sheet metal are more solid than ones made from tubing, but a bed made from heavy gauge tubing will retain strength and durability, while being lighter and less expensive to ship.

What Style of Platform Bed Should I Select?

There are some types of beds, like the sleigh bed and the four poster bed that we immediately identify with the traditional style because of their silk finishes, graceful curves and flowing lines. Inspired by the fashions, trends and social customs of the past, traditional platform beds can vary from the elaborate fussiness of Victorian times to the less complicated ideals reflected in Colonial designs.

Transitional style contrasts austere lines with intricate curves, and natural wood finishes with lustrous metal accents. It also utilizes neutral palette finishes like taupe, tan and vanilla. Since it merges contemporary and traditional styles together, it blends in with a wide range of designs and fashions. Transitional bedroom furniture, like a platform bedroom set, makes it a good choice for decorating a bedroom because it is eclectic and flexible.

Emerging from the second half of the 20th century, contemporary style underplays the ornate lines and rich textures of traditional furnishings. Modern/contemporary bedroom furniture is known for its simplicity of line, shape and form. Geometric and minimalist, mixing textured elements such as chrome accents or upholstered panels with wood tones is another characteristic of modern/contemporary design.

Casual style minimizes elaborate detail, while featuring textured elements like clean lines, underscored by leather or metal accents. Additional elements such as rectangular insets and softly curved corners and legs contribute to the overall casual feel. This style of furniture tends to be larger in scale, emphasizing comfort and utility. A platform bed in the casual style is ideal for those who want their bedroom to posses the comfortable, relaxed look of contemporary but infused with traditional warmth.

Country furniture combines more formal traditional stylings with rustic charm, and are recognized for being comfortable, cozy and welcoming. They contain a distinctive period flavor like Colonial, French Country or Mission. Country style furnishings are almost always constructed of wood, ranging from light to medium finishes. Some of the more common types of finishes are grainy, painted or distressed. Country furniture can include whimsical details like hand-painted stenciling, hand-carved insets and soft, graceful curves.

What Else Should I Keep In Mind When Choosing a Platform Bed?

When purchasing a platform bed for the first time, take into account that without a box spring underneath for support, the mattress might feel firmer than what you’ve been accustomed to.

If you do need to use a box spring, select a low profile bed or a platform bed that can be adjusted to accommodate the additional height.

Many full/double beds can accommodate a queen mattress by providing an extra set of rail slots about three inches on each side of the headboard/footboard. Depending on the brand or manufacturer the same can apply to standard king and California king bed frames. This may leave a slight gap on either side of the mattress.

Even though a platform bed tends to be lower to the floor, when purchasing a four poster or canopy bed, make sure that the posts will not be too close to the ceiling or that the canopy will not block any overhead lighting.

Platform beds with an elevation feature will allow you to position your bed so that you can comfortably read or watch television.

If you are purchasing a futon mattress for your platform bed, make sure that it is designed to lie flat, rather than one constructed with the fold(s) necessary to allow for the conversion from a sofa into a bed.


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