The Beds of Adults

At some point in your life, you say “I am an adult.  My bed will now sit in a fancy frame!!!”  Beyond that I have no idea how people handle this situation.  And since you rarely see peoples’ bedrooms, I have very little to go on!

The Mr. and I decided at some point recently that we should get a proper bedroom set of furniture.  Finding the bed alone to be a consumer odyssey, we started shopping around, learning about veneers; “sleigh” beds; upholstered beds.  Beds made of metal.  Beds with storage.  Just headboards.  Platform beds.  The variety is staggering.  But one thing we found common in all, as usual, is that they all seem too expensive.  You could find something for $500 or less, but the really decent beds start around $800.

Now I am more on the side of seeing the “bed” (or bed frame, as opposed to the mattress, in plainer English) as a luxury piece of furniture.  It has nothing to do with the functionality of your mattress, as long as your mattress has a box spring, which they all tend to come with. I have had an almost uninterrupted string of restful nights on my mattress since I bought it 6 years ago, all on ugly wheels.

The “bed” is decor, like artwork or a really pretty lamp or chair.  So why do people universally spend money on this rather than buying a tastefully framed Degas print?  I think it is the imposed standard of living.  Western civilization throughout history has maintained a fascination with keeping’s one’s sleeping accommodations off the ground.  They go hand in hand.  If you’re on the floor, you may as well be in a sleeping bag.  And even with the free wheels beds tend to come with (like mine), you are in the company of tacky college kids in horrible campus-area apartments.

In the old days, the variety of options and outcomes was probably narrow relative to today.  Someone made everyone’s furniture by hand.  If you had enough money to have something soft and comfy to sleep on, you probably also had the means to make something to prop that on.  Might’ve been plain, but all you had to do was get the materials and make it.  Rich people probably had someone else make their bed frames, but both groups were stuck with basically the same tools and technology.  300 years ago, the only difference between a woodworker by trade and someone who just needed to furnish his home was skill and possibly better (manual) tools.

These days, making a thing like a bed is not the most obvious option.  People just go buy beds, because most people have neither the means nor the time to make one.  And even hobbyist woodworkers have crude tools compared to the refined processes of the modern factories.  I couldn’t make an exotic veneer.  And I do not have the table saw or variety of other tools it take to make the fancy curves, joinery, and surface finish of store-bought furniture.  I also do not have ready access to popular woods such as mahogany, and do not care to stain that much white wood mahogany-colored.  I could make a totally rustic bed with my available materials, but compared to 300 years ago hand-making this would be outside the norm.

Meanwhile, the stores inflate the cost of furniture dramatically because they know they have the market (mostly) cornered.  And they have all these fancy processes to punch out fancy curves in no time flat, overseas.  And fanciness is the norm, because stores do not bother selling anything plain and cheap.  And you certainly do not want to go on sleeping like a farmer or college kid.  So we inevitably buy this stuff because we can either afford it (you literally have the $500 regardless of any other savings), or you can use a credit card to bridge the gap between “have” and “have not.”  In an age in which everybody’s everything is supposed to be propped up on something fancy, there is no excuse not to have something made of at least fancy-looking (but questionably made and overpriced) veneers.

Well what if you have the $500, but think this isn’t worth $500, or isn’t the best use of your $500?  I looked up an upholstered bed plan, and it looks like you can build this item for about $280.  So I guess that is the going rate for a nicely made piece of furniture of that magnitude.  Still better than $500, and I would know the quality and enjoy a custom design.

So the DIY option is open to us.  But it is a shame that this possession forces people into a consumerist dichotomy of being identified as an “adult” in the “have” category or a kid in the “have not,” with few options in between and credit cards catalyzing the move in the direction of the former.  Standards of living were looser in other times.  Now everyone is expected to have the same expensive stuff, whether they can afford it – and whether they even want it.

6 thoughts on “The Beds of Adults

  1. I contemplated this decision, and ended up going with a big fancy upholstered royal blue velvet nail trimmed headboard purchased on Overstock for about $200 while my bed sits on a plain metal frame with little wheels. The impact on the room is 100x more than if I got a plain wood bed frame – you’d never see it under the bedding.

    • Yup! I am kind of going in the upholstered direction myself. I feel like the parts of a bed should look more like a couch than a chair. Plus, yes, the bed parts are covered up by the bedding unless you get a sleigh bed that rolls out at the end. And that looks nice, but then a trunk wouldn’t fit at the end of the bed… I am not sure if upholstered is a new thing but I think I like it more. It’s a little softer without being too girly necessarily.

  2. Our bed is still sitting on the metal frame with wheels… so far it hasn’t bothered me but I know eventually I’ll want a real bed frame! (Mostly just because that’s what I see in fancy magazine pictures so I’ve told myself that I need it…) Maybe when we eventually move into a house and I know I don’t have to move it once a year… haha. Excited to hear what you end up choosing!!

    • That’s kind of where I am right now. It will be nice to have eventually but it’s pretty hard to pull the trigger at any given time…

  3. We got rid of our (plain metal) bed frame years ago & just have our mattress on a box spring on the floor. I put a dust ruffle on the box spring & it looks fine. I know this makes us outliers but we actually prefer having the bed so low to the ground. Especially now that we have kids who are constantly climbing in and out.

    • Hey thanks for the comment! That’s a good point about the kiddos. Actually it is slightly curious to me that Western civilization has developed a culture of big beds standing on tall things when Eastern culture barely has any bedding traditionally. Tatami mats and things like that. At 5’4″ it is practical for me to have things lower, but I guess I am just trying to go with the flow.

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