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Your First Apartment — Six Things Needed For Your Bed

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The focal point of any bedroom is going to be the bed, which is almost always takes up the largest amount of space in the bedroom, and is the spot where people rest or sleep. In ancient times, beds were little more than a collection of hay or straw. Animal hides were sometimes used for blankets. The earliest beds were laid directly on the ground or floor but people quickly realized that raising the bed off the ground was necessary due to dirt and insects, so some ancient peoples started making beds with stone platforms, and then beds with wooden frames.

Mattresses stuffed with wool were popular with the Roman Republic, with mattresses filled with bird feathers becoming popular as the Republic neared its end. What we know as pillows were first seen during these times as Romans placed cushions at the head for support. Through the medieval period and then through the Renaissance, beds became decorative in nature. You had bed frames inlaid with gold or silver, headboards with ornamental carvings, and the finest linens used for sheets. The bed became more than just an object to sleep on–it became a work of art!

Making Your Bed Comfortable and Attractive

Designing the perfect bed for your new apartment can be a daunting task. First, we need to consider all the components of a modern bed. Some of the items you may need include: a bed frame, a headboard, a bed skirt, a box spring, a mattress, sheets, a comforter and pillows. As you can see, there is quite a lot of thought and money going into this single piece of furniture.

Building a bed that works best for you is crucial. After all, on average you will spend a third of your life in bed. Getting proper sleep is one of the most important components to our health and quality of life. A good night’s rest can make you feel like a million dollars. A bad night’s sleep will leave you tired, irritable or even in pain. Sleep plays a vital role in the healing of both mind and body. So let’s walk through some of the basic items you will need to construct a comfortable and attractive bed:

The Foundation Of Your Bed — The Frame Or Platform

A bed frame, sometimes referred to as a bedstead, is essentially the foundation of the bed. The term “bed frame” dates back at least two centuries. The primary role of the bed frame is to hold in position the box spring and mattress. Similar to a bed frame is the “platform bed” which uses slats for supporting the mattress, which makes the use of a box spring optional.

Bed frames were a crucial advancement in bedding technology. The ancients realized that sleeping directly on the floor was not pleasant due to drafts in the winter, not to mention bugs and rodents. Sleeping elevated off of the floor is more comfortable and allows you to store items under the bed if needed. A bed frame also adds extra support to the bed.

Do you really need a bed frame? Some people do put a box spring and mattress directly on the floor. I suppose an argument can be made for placing a bed directly on the floor in some circumstances. For instance, when sleeping with infants, being elevated off of the floor could be dangerous if the child were to roll off of the bed. But you run the risk of damaging your box spring and/or mattress by not placing it in a bed frame–after all, they are designed to sit in a bed frame.

So I strongly recommend the use of a bed frame or platform for your bed. Find one that is sturdy and stylish and best suits your needs. Not sure where to start? We recently reviewed the Home Life Premiere Classics Cloth Charcoal Blue Linen Platform Bed and gave it very high marks. Check it out!

The Box Spring — Necessary For A Firm Structure

A box spring is a support structure that is designed to sit on top of the bed frame and underneath the mattress. Typically a box spring consists of series of springs contained within a wooden frame that is wrapped in cloth. Box springs are most common in the Western world and less common in the East.

The use of a box spring provides a few benefits to your bed. First, the box spring adds a bit of height to the bed which aids us in getting in and out of our beds more easily. Second, the box spring acts as a shock absorber. And finally, the box spring creates the flat, firm base needed for our mattress to lie upon. Without that firm base, your mattress will sink and will not be comfortable.

Size is an important consideration when you are looking to buy a box spring. It should be in the same size as your frame and mattress. For example, buying a king size frame and mattress and then buying a queen size box spring will not work. There are split box springs which are two smaller box springs that can be joined together on a bed frame to make the proper size. Split box springs are common in large sized beds since moving split box springs is easier than moving one large, rigid piece.

So they come in different sizes but other than that–aren’t all box springs alike? No! Buy a quality box spring or you may regret it. When a box spring fails, due to broken boards or shoddy springs, your bed fails. Want a high-quality box spring at a great value? Check out our review of the Zinus 7.5 Inch Standard Profile Metal Smart Box Spring.

The Right Mattress Makes All The Difference

Now we get to the most important part of the bed: the mattress. A mattress is a large cushion that is intended provide support for the body when resting. They come in several standard sizes although there is some variance in the height of different brands of mattresses. Mattresses are typically placed on top of a box spring that sits on a bed frame, or the mattress can be placed directly onto the base of a platform bed.

The mattress typically contains a network of springs as well as cushiony materials such as hair, fibers or foam, and is surrounded by an outer layer of heavy cloth that is quilted. Foam mattresses have become very popular in recent years due to advances in foam technology. So-called “memory foam” is a viscoelastic polyurethane material which softens when a warm body lays on it and then returns to its original shape when the body gets out of bed.

There are also mattresses that are filled with air or water. Air mattresses are inflatable and usually reserved for camping or for temporary bedding for guests. Water mattresses account for a very small percentage of bed sales due to several factors, such as the weight when filled and the damage that could be caused should it ever leak.

Finding a great deal on a mattress is not difficult as the markup on these products can be substantial. Be sure to avoid falling for any gimmicky sales pitches which can often ensnare the unwary consumer. For a mattress recommendation, check out our review of the Tuft & Needle mattress with adaptive foam. Truly one of the best mattresses I’ve ever laid down upon. Two thumbs up!

Bed Sheets For Style And Comfort

Bed sheets are an essential ingredient for making a comfortable bed. Bed sheets consist of two separate sheets: a bottom bed sheet that lays directly on the mattress, and a top sheet that lays directly on the bottom sheet when the bed is not occupied. When the bed is occupied, the person lays in between the bottom and top sheets–on top of the bottom sheet and underneath the top sheet.

The bottom sheet is usually a fitted sheet with corners that are sewn to create a tight fit around the corners of the mattress, although sometimes bottom sheets can be flat sheets. The top sheet is always a flat sheet that is designed to lay on top of the person or persons in bed. Blankets or a comforter are then laid upon the top sheet. Top sheets are common in the West but are rarely used in Asian countries.

Bed sheets can be made from many different fabrics but cotton seems to be the most prevalent. Blends of cotton and polyester provide a nice balance of softness (from the cotton) and durability (from the polyester). Some high-end sheets can be made from fine linens or silk.

Bed sheets are usually sold as set of four pieces consisting of one bottom sheet, one top sheet and two pillow cases. The thread count of the sheets is often used as a metric to measure quality. The higher the thread count, the softer the sheet. Looking for a bed sheet set that is so luxuriously soft and comfortable that you may never want to get out of bed? The Resort Bamboo Sheets by Cariloha 4-piece bed sheet set will not disappoint!

The Comforter — Keeping You Warm And Snug

A comforter is thick bed spread similar to a quilt. A comforter is made from two coverings that are sewn together and stuffed with down, wool or polyester batting. In the U.K, the term “duvet” is used rather than “comforter.”

Comforters come in all the standard bed sizes you would expect: twin, full, queen, king and California king. Similar to our discussion of bed sheets, comforters can be made with finer materials such as linen, satin or silk. Comforters can also be made out of animal fur. The vast majority of comforters are washable so you can toss them in the wash as you would the rest of your bedding items.

The comforter should rest upon the top sheet and should not contact the bed’s occupant. This keeps the comforter cleaner for longer periods of time since the bed sheets are what contacts the occupant. This is desirable because even though the comforter is washable, it is not nearly as easy to wash and dry as flat bed sheet.

A comfy comforter is so important, so be sure to buy one that is appropriately stuffed for the weather in your locale. A thick down comforter feels amazing when the temperature drops below freezing outside, but a thinner comforter that is not too insulative is better in warmer climates. As with bed sheets, thread count can be something to consider when purchasing a comforter. Looking for a great value-priced comforter? Check our review of the P&R Bedding Comfy Bedding 3-piece comforter set.

Support Your Head And Neck With A Quality Pillow

A pillow is cushion used to support the head and neck while we are lying down to relax or sleep. Pillows are made up of two main components: (1) the pillowcase which is the outer fabric cover , and (2) the actual pillow itself which is a cushion containing down or foam stuffing. In more ancient times, pillows were also made of wood or even stone. Thankfully, pillow technology has advanced beyond us using rocks as pillows.

There are pillows that are mostly decorative in function and are not primarily used for support during sleep. Throw pillows or toss pillows are common terms for such pillows. Throw pillows are typically used on couches and sofas rather than beds.

Pillow quality can be rated by a number of factors. Probably the most important factor is the support that the pillow gives due to its stuffing material. Down and feathers were preferred until recently where synthetic foam technology has made some great strides. The thread count of the pillow case is also something to consider.

In the opinion of this writer, the best pillows on the market today use memory foam technology. One of the best memory foam pillows we’ve seen is the Coop Home Goods Hypoallergenic Certipur Memory Foam Pillow. Our editors raved about it. Check it out!

Final Thoughts On Creating A Bed That You Will Be Proud Of

Creating a comfortable and stylish bed for your first apartment involves many different pieces working together in concert. Choose the right collection of equipment and clothes for your bed and it will be like having your own private retreat within your apartment. The bedroom is a small space with the bed an even smaller sub-space, but with the right frame, mattresses and bedding you will can create something cozy and inspiring.

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