Ornate wire frame bed with pillows, shams, quilts and comforter cover.
Photo: Philip Harvey

Bedding options offer both creature comfort and decorative opportunities. Quilts, comforters, sheets, shams, bed skirts, and pillows come in a wide array of colors, shapes, and sizes.

Though the style of the bed sets the tone for your bedroom, it's the mattress and its foundation that have the most to do with how comfortably you sleep.

Basically, the choice is between an innerspring mattress and a foam mattress. The mattress, in turn, must rest on some sort of foundation -- often, though not necessarily, a box spring.

Innerspring mattresses
These mattresses house springs connected in various ways (see drawing at right). Generally, pocketed springs are considered best. Whatever the spring design, look for more than 100 coils in a crib mattress, more than 200 in a twin mattress, and more than 300 in a larger model. A high count isn't the whole story, though. Wire gauge is also important: the lower the number, the stronger the wire, with 13 the heaviest gauge and 21 the lightest.

Also, the more layers of quality cushioning and insulation that are added, the more comfortable the mat-tress will prove. If you'd like a cushy surface coupled with firm support below, look for a "soft top" model.

Foam mattresses
A high-quality foam mattress is just as good as a well-constructed innerspring mattress and can be made to fit an odd-size custom or antique bed. Your dealer can easily cut or seam pieces to fit your exact requirements.

Generally, the higher the density, the better the foam. Be sure to get a minimum density of at least 1.15 pounds per cubic foot in a crib mattress or 2 pounds per cubic foot in an adult-size mattress.

Box springs and mattress bases.
Innerspring mattresses can be used on many kinds of bases and frames. As a rule, the more solid the base, the longer the life of the mattress.

A simple sheet of plywood, or even the floor, makes an adequate mattress support. Besides promoting air circulation, the only advantages of a box spring or other mattress base are giving additional resiliency to the mattress and raising its height.

Water beds
Design has taken great steps forward since these beds were introduced in the 1960s. Newer water mattresses come with a solidly comfortable foam edge; others use an air baffle or rows of springs along the mattress perimeter, and baffles of various designs inside some mattresses slow down wave motion. A polyurethane liner contains the water in case of a leak.


Ideas for Great Bedrooms

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