The Familiar Bed
Standard steel frames are most frequently used with box spring and mattress sets.
Many brass and wooden beds are constructed as one unit, in which headboard, footboard, and side rails all fit together.
A steel bed frame, on the other hand, is purchased separately from the headboard. A freestanding headboard can be used, or you can connect the headboard of your choice to the frame.
Many steel frames have headboard-attachment brackets welded or riveted to them. With bed frames that have no attachment brackets, you can use adapter plates to attach the headboard.
In addition to the tried-and-true bed frame, you have a wide choice of other designs.
Metal beds became common in the second half of the 19th century. Rolled-steel and cast-iron beds with ornamental brass joints were popular, as were bed frames of brass-wrapped steel tubing. Very few beds were made of solid brass, which is heavy and not as strong as steel.
To refurbish an older iron or steel frame, have it sandblasted to remove paint and rust, and then paint it yourself or have it enameled. Solid brass parts and brass-clad metal tubing should be polished professionally -- it's a difficult and time-consuming job to attempt yourself.
Descendants of the canopied, curtained beds of medieval castles are still with us. The great appeal of a canopy bed is its room-within-a-room ambience -- the cozy, private enclosure it creates. The drawback to a canopy bed is its size, real and apparent. These beds require a high ceiling and can easily overwhelm a small room.
Today, bed frames with bedposts and canopies come in many styles and materials, from sleek metal to carved wood.
Fabric can also be used to embellish canopy beds. Delicate eyelet or netting lightens the appearance of a large canopy bed; heavier fabrics give a snug feeling and can even serve their original purpose -- shutting out drafts.
This style is raised one or more steps up from floor level, and it may incorporate storage space below. Whether you decide on a built-in platform or a movable one. It can be surfaced with wood, wallboard, or even carpeting to match or contrast with the wall or floor.
Because the mattress sits directly on the platform instead of on a box spring, a platform bed is often firmer and lower than other beds.
Another use of the term "platform" refers to a high, loftlike structure reached by a ladder or stairs. Such a structure can save space dramatically in a high-ceiling room and allow working, storage, or relaxing space below.
If the loft is freestanding, it can be built from either plywood or a combination of sturdy posts and structural floor framing. A wall-attached unit is like a second floor suspended above the existing one.
Bunk Beds and Trundles
Bunk beds and trundles save space during the day, yet give a restful night's sleep.
Bunk beds are typically used in kids' rooms, where a certain sense of adventure is often welcome. The upper bunk should have a sturdy guardrail -- one on each side, if the bed is not placed against a wall.
A trundle bed, normally the size of a twin bed, wheels out from underneath another bed to sleep a sibling or an overnight guest. The mattress stays flat, so it remains comfortable longer than one that must be folded and compressed.
Whether it's rolled out at night on the floor or set atop a wooden slat frame, a futon makes an effective bed for studios or other small spaces.
The Murphy Bed
Patented in 1905, the original Murphy bed was such a success that its name has become a generic term. The classic Murphy pivoted up into a closet, was reasonably easy to operate, and freed floor space for other daytime uses. Manufacturers today make Murphy-type beds that tilt into bookcases and various cabinet frameworks. Some beds are hinged at the head, others at the side.