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When Buying A New Bed, Size Matters

December 31 2010

If you’ve never bought a bed before or haven’t purchased a new bed in the last 10 years, you’ll have an easier time shopping by remembering one simple thing – size matters. 

How big do you want your bed to be? First, consider your current needs.  Are you downsizing or upsizing? Do you want your bed to be a retreat where kids, pets, and work projects all pile in together?  Are there any health issues to consider such as a bad back?  Last, are you buying king size for a couple, queen or full size for a single, or twin beds for toddlers?

What size bedframe?

Size is the first thing to consider. You don’t ever want to buy too small, but too large can be a problem, too.   Be sure to measure your bedroom before choosing a new size.  A good rule of thumb is to allow at least three feet of space to surround the bed, including the frame.

For example, a four-poster bed takes up much more room than a bed with a simple headboard, with or without a footboard.

King size

At 76” wide by 80” long, king-size beds require a lot of space.  The king top mattress is housed on two twin-size box spring foundations.  Couples frequently choose kings because the space is about that of two twin beds fitted together. 

King-size is also offered in a 72” wide and 84” version called the California King, which is good for taller people.  California Kings can also provide a bigger bed in bedrooms that can’t accommodate the width of a regular King.

Before you purchase a king-size bed, consider how you’ll get it in your home. If you have an upstairs master suite, you might measure to see if you can navigate a king mattress up the stairs and through the halls. King mattresses also require the most expensive bedding, and the large sheet sets require a large-load washer and dryer. If you live alone, you’ll also have to get help to turn the mattress.  

Queen size

Queen beds are the most popular size.  At 60” width by 80” length, most master bedrooms and many guest rooms can easily accommodate a Queen bed. The top mattress is housed on a single box spring foundation. 

For couples who snuggle, a queen is comfortable, even though it provides about 9” less space than that of a King. Queens are ideal for singles who want a larger bed or who like to sprawl. 

Full or Double size

Many parents now purchase a full bed rather than a twin bed for growing children.  At 53′ wide and 75” length, children can grow into and use this size bed for a much longer period.  The shorter length may be uncomfortable for tall children and adults which is why manufacturers recommend full size for a single sleeper under 5’5” tall. 

Twin size

At 39” by 75,” twin beds take the least amount of space individually, but if you have two to a room, they take up the most area. Twin beds are good for a guest room or same sex siblings sharing a bedroom.

How tall should the bed be?

Bed heights vary.  The most common height is about 25” from mattress to floor, which means that most average adults will be able to touch their feet to the floor while sitting on the side of the bed.  This height is also good for older adults who need to get their bearings before exiting the bed. 

Many antique beds were much taller and required step stools to climb into bed.  These were designed for bedrooms with tall ceilings, and to allow plentiful storage under the bed.

Platform beds or waterbeds are generally about 18” from mattress to floor. While they appear very sleek and modern, they may not be comfortable to sit on the side of the bed.

Details to consider

Be sure to consult with a local bedding expert about your bed, or the bed you intend to buy, and the best mattress for your needs.  

Extra tall mattresses or pillow-top mattresses should have a taller height headboard.  Keep in mind that the extra-depth mattresses such as pillow-tops can obscure beautiful headboard carvings on older beds.

On the other hand, the depth of a solid latex core bed such as a memory foam bed may be shallower than a traditional coil mattress, which can alter the kind of headboard that will look attractive with it. 

When you are testing your prospective new bed, be sure to lay full length on the mattress you’re interested in buying. Stay as long as possible, roll around, sit up and read, or relax like you’re watching your favorite late-nite show.

Ask your bedding salesperson what size sheets the bed requires and if the measurements are standard. Check online for dimensions of your favorite bedding manufacturer. Some bed sizes, such as twin extra longs are very hard to find sheets to fit.

Yes, you might feel a little silly after ten minutes or so, but you’ll be living with your choice for many years, so take your time before you decide.