3 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Bed

Your bed is the anchor of the entire bedroom; it sets the tone and style of the whole room. It’s estimated that a person spends 1/3 of their life sleeping. When you add on the time you spend reading, watching TV, and just lounging in bed, you are spending a lot more time there than you would initially think. With that in mind, you get why it’s so important to create a bedroom that is a comfortable, relaxing environment. Looking at bedroom furniture online can seem a little overwhelming, but with the right knowledge, you will be able to easily choose the right bed that fits your style and will last you for many years.


  1. Bed Sizing
  2. Choosing the Best Type of Bed
  3. What You Need for a Complete Bed


1. Bed Sizing

The first thing you’ll need to do is plot out how you want to arrange the furniture in your bedroom. And then measure! (For the record, you should measure anytime you are buying furniture – not just a bed.) Just because you may want a California king doesn’t mean that size is best for your bedroom. Besides the measurements of the bed fitting comfortably in the room, you need to know how much space you have left once the bed is in place. If you are going to want to add any other bedroom furniture, such as a nightstand, dresser, chest, or armoire then you are going to need to account for those measurements as well. And don’t forget, you will want and need empty space so the room does not feel overly crowded.

Different countries have different bed sizes, but the most common in America are:


Mattress Type Typical Dimensions
Twin/Single 39”x75”
Twin XL 39”x80”
Full/Double 54”x75”
Queen 60”x80”
King/Eastern King 76”x80”
California King/Western King 72”x84”


Mattress Size Comparisons


Remember that these are the sizes of mattresses – not the actual bed. When determining the size of the whole bed, there are several pieces to measure:

Know the height of the footboard, headboard, and rails. It is not easy to tell from a picture how high a bed actually is. For people who have joint problems, a high bed can be uncomfortable to get in and out of. Similarly, very tall people can often find low profile or platform beds uncomfortable. Just know you are going to have to add on the box spring and mattress thickness to the rail height for an accurate total height. Mattresses can run between 5”-21” thick with the average being 14”. If you are choosing a poster bed, be sure that height of the posts is going to fit and not overwhelm the rest of the room.

Measure the depth of headboard and footboard then add to the length of the rails. Some manufacturers do not provide the total length of the bed and you must add all of the pieces together. In this case, you should also contact the retailer where you are looking and have them double check with the manufacturer.

Typically, the headboard is going to be the widest part. Be sure to double check that the footboard will fit in your bedroom.  

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2. Choosing the Best Type of Bed

Queen Panel Bed with StoragePanel Beds
Perhaps the most common type of bed, panel beds are defined by the paneled side rails and come in all different styles. Ranging from highly decorative, formal looks to simple and modern, panel beds are going to give you the most variety to choose from. You can find panel beds with or without storage, in all materials, and of different scales to give you the exact look that you want.

(Pictured: American Drew Queen Panel Bed w/ Storage)

Poster Beds
For those with tall ceilings and large bedrooms, a poster bed could be the exact type of bed to complement and fill your space. Poster beds have posts of differing heights, so if you love the style but have a smaller room there are options for you that will not overwhelm your bedroom. You can choose from all four posts being tall, all four being low, or a mix of high-low posts. Generally speaking, queen, king, and California king sizes are most common.

Canopy Beds
Similar to poster beds, a canopy bed has the posts but also includes connecting rails at the top. This can be four connecting crossbeams at each corner creating a rectangular shape or beams that stem from the corners and meet in the center of the bed. Originally canopy beds were designed for fabrics to be draped over top for a more commanding presence but many are now so ornately designed that they have just as handsome look with or without the fabric. Generally speaking, queen, king, and California king sizes are most common.

Platform Beds
With a platform bed, you will not need a box spring. Along the bed frame, wooden slats are laid horizontal for extra support, meaning you will just require a mattress. It’s recommended that bed slats are placed no more than 3 inches apart to ensure your mattress does not wear out more quickly than is necessary. This can also be a better investment in the long run because without having to spend money on a box spring, you can maybe choose a higher quality mattress that will have a longer life. Platform beds are usually have a minimalist, contemporary style and are close to the ground.

Sleigh Beds
Characterized by their curved, scrolled headboard and/or footboard so that it resembles an old-fashioned sleigh. The look of sleigh beds is usually more formal and is built to a larger scale. Typically speaking, a sleigh bed will look best in a bedroom with more space but again, measure beforehand to see how the style will fit with your room. Sleigh beds are usually a traditional style and look best in a more formal bedroom.

Storage Beds
For when you need a little extra room, having the option of underbed storage is helpful. You can choose rails with storage drawers on one or both rails or storage drawers in the footboard. All types of beds, such as panel or poster, can include storage as a feature. Many beds will have two versions – one with and one without storage, so if you have questions about which one you are buying, it is best to contact the retailer where you are purchasing from. When buying a storage bed online be sure to carefully read the product description and features. A manufacturer may only have photos of the bed with storage and this photo will be used for both bed options, so do not buy based on the photo alone.

Twin Bunk Bed


Bunk Beds
The quintessential children’s bed, bunk beds are a great option for when you have multiple children and not a lot of space. Bunk beds come in several sizes; twin over twin, full over full, or twin over full. The size you choose depends on how long you are planning on keeping the bunk bed style for your children. If you know you are going to have your children share a room for a longer period of time, investing in a full over full will be a more comfortable option as they grow and need more space.

(Pictured: American Woodcrafters Heartland Twin Bunk Bed)


Loft Beds
Similar to twin bunk beds but different in the fact that instead of a bed underneath, there is an open space. Many people will use this space to put a child’s desk and have a designated homework area. You could also use that space to place bean bags and toys as an area for hanging out with friends or as a place to store an extra dresser or chest.

Low Profile Beds
Best for those who want a simple, minimalist look, low profile beds are close to the floor and have little to no decorative elements. A low profile bed usually has a square headboard and square frame to create clean lines for a truly modern look. This is also a good choice for people who have limited space or a loft because the small scale of low profile beds is going to complement the space best. The look is similar to a platform bed but low profile beds may require a box spring.

Day Beds
Similar to twin size panel beds, except with a back on one side. Day beds are a great transitional bed for kids and teens when there is limited space in the bedroom. Some people also will use a day bed as casual seating for a reading area.

Slat Beds
Defined by their design characteristic of slatted headboard and/or footboard, slat beds are a casual look and usually made of solid wood or metal. Typically, slat beds have minimal decorative elements and are of a medium scale, making them good for guest rooms or a smaller master bedroom.

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3. What You Need for a Complete Bed

Queen Upholstered BedWhen buying a bed, there are three main pieces to make a complete bed: the headboard, footboard, and rails. You can certainly buy just a headboard or headboard with rails but generally speaking, ensure that these three pieces are included when making a bed purchase online. If you do not want to have to purchase a box spring, look for one where bed slats are included as well.

Other optional components for beds include trundle beds and underbed storage. A trundle is traditionally used for twin or full size beds used as an extra bed for kids to use for sleepovers. Many collections of children’s beds will offer a trundle to be sold separately and this ensures a perfect fit for the bed you have chosen. All bed types and sizes can potentially offer underbed storage. This is usually drawers added to the panels or footboard.

(Pictured: Hooker Furniture Sanctuary Queen Upholstered Bed)

The Mattress
Buying a mattress is an extremely important piece of the puzzle when building the perfect bed. You are going to want to find a mattress that is comfortable, durable, and supportive and there are several characteristics that go into deciding what is best for you. Read our guide to buying a mattress online to better understand all the considerations you must take when looking for a mattress.

Beds come in a variety of colors and materials, including wood, leather, upholstery, and metal. Some beds are made of just one of these types of materials such as our solid wood beds or metal beds. You can also find beds with mixed materials for different styles.  You can typically find every style of bed in all types of materials. Traditional styles are usually solid wood, transitional looks combine different materials for an updated style, and contemporary beds will usually feature leather or upholstery. If you want an ornamental look, choose a bed with metal or stone accents for added flair or purchase a carved wooden bed for an equally attractive design but with a more casual style.

Queen Mansion Storage BedUnlike other rooms, such as the living or dining room, your bedroom is truly a place where do not have to follow strict styling rules. You do not have to worry about making sure the style of the bedroom flows with the rest of the house, since this is a place just for you. Darker woods such as mahogany and walnut tend to have a fancier, more formal feel; oak, cherry and pine are more relaxed and casual. When looking at the material of the bed, opt for hardwood solids if possible. Hardwoods such as mahogany, walnut, maple, oak, or teak are going to last much longer than composite woods, which includes plywood, hardwood solids and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). And while engineered woods such as MDF -- which is a mixture of hard and soft wood bits that have been compressed into board form -- are durable, they're not as strong and sturdy as hardwood. And while MDF may be stable enough for the short term, hardwood is far longer lasting.

(Pictured: Vaughan Bassett Queen Mansion Storage Bed)

If you find a bed with veneers in the description of materials, do not be discouraged from purchasing. Most typical furniture you see is a combination of real wood veneers and solid woods. It does not have to be solid to be of excellent quality, in fact solid wood can potentially have problems with cracking and splitting as weather conditions like humidity can cause solid woods to expand and contract. Most very high end and expensive furniture is NOT 100% solid, but a mix of excellent quality veneers to get great wood patterns and finishes. Keep in mind that new construction techniques almost always use sold wood and wood veneers. There is a misconception that unless it is solid it is not quality. Solid wood furniture is more likely to crack and warp, that is why most of even the highest priced name brands use veneers, it's a matter of what is the best way to do it, not necessarily that they are trying to save money on manufacturing.

Veneer refers to thin slices of wood, usually thinner than 1/8 inch, that typically are glued onto core panels (typically wood, particle board or MDF) to produce flat panels such as doors, tops and panels for cabinets, parquet floors and parts of furniture. They are also used in marquetry. Plywood consists of three or more layers of veneer, each glued with its grain at right angles to adjacent layers for strength. Veneer is obtained either by peeling the trunk of a tree or by slicing large rectangular blocks of wood. The appearance of the grain and figure in wood comes from slicing through the growth rings of a tree and depends upon the angle at which the wood is sliced.

Again, beds come in many other materials and oftentimes will be made of more than one. Metal beds are a good option for people who move frequently as they are usually lightweight and will not show dings or scratches as easily as wood or upholstery. Also, metal beds are very easy maintenance and will remain looking new for many years.

Upholstered and leather beds are going to be the hardest to maintain overtime. Upholstery is going to show any marks from overly rambunctious kids or pets and any spills from breakfast in bed. If you want the upholstered look but are not ready for the commitment of have the entire fabric bed, you can choose just an upholstered headboard.

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