News & Politics

Home Design 2003: Buying a Bed

Can't Decide Which Kind of Bed to Buy? Here Are Things to Consider.

Sleep on It

Space used to be the biggest factor in choosing a bed. but in a super-size master bedroom, the only factors now are look and comfort.

Beds with headboards and footboards have the advantage of allowing placement in the middle of a room, which can balance space. A large or interesting headboard can function as a room partition, screening off a home office, gym, or sitting area.

A bed with nice legs eliminates the need for a dust ruffle. It's a good look for a room with a hardwood floor or contemporary style. But it also cuts out the option of under-bed storage.

Here's a look at other pros and cons of bed styles:

* Upholstered: Fabric-covered headboards are the most popular because they allow for variety. Fabric and upholstery shops make standard shapes in plywood and cover them in your choice of shirring and quilting. A designer or contractor also can carve a custom shape. Fabric can tear or stain, but reupholstery isn't difficult.

* Sleigh: Usually wood but sometimes upholstered, these beds have sloping headboards and footboards. In large master bedrooms, they're versatile, allowing for angling or almost any kind of room placement. Sleigh beds may be too heavy for a small room, but modern designs with slats instead of solid wood look lighter and can work in a midsize room. Tall people might want to avoid any style that has a footboard.

* Four-poster and canopy: The lean lines of a four-poster and the long drapery of a canopy work best in big rooms with high ceilings. Modern designs don't dominate a room as much as antique versions do. You may have to buy a lot of bed drapery with these styles.

* Brass and iron: You can find a variety of looks, from retro to gothic to Southern romantic, and they're less expensive than other beds. Their lines don't overwhelm a room. But you can't lean back and read unless you've got a pile of pillows to cushion your back and neck.

* Platform: Long, low, and contemporary, platform beds are not hugely popular in Washington. But they're well-suited to new pared-down bedding. Many have under-bed storage, and some even have attached nightstands and built-in lighting.

* No headboard: If you like a big pile of pillows, adding anything to the basic frame that comes with the mattress can be overdoing it. You can hang art or a tapestry, or a curtain on a rod pole, at the head of a bed to frame the space. A headboard also can be built into a storage wall, with bookcases, lighting, and display space.

* Captain's or day bed: These usually have wooden, wicker, or iron frames that double as seating. They can come in handy when children are visiting. Some of them have storage.