Beds are the main element in the furnishing of the sleeping area: in addition to their primary function related to rest, in fact, the design of the bed is continuously subject to stylistic and formal experimentation. To furnish the bedroom there are versatile solutions that characterize the space through materials, colours, padding and fabrics in well designed combinations. The bed is therefore designed to effectively combine functionality and aesthetics, whether in a double bedroom or children's bedroom, for a room with study or a corner of a small studio. For so many different needs, often combined with each other, many types of beds are available on the market: from classic double and single beds in all sizes and intermediate shapes; from the storage bed, which exploits the space under the bed base, to the canopy bed, whose romantic aesthetics inherited from the past, responds today to new needs; from bunk beds, ideal in small spaces or developed in height, to the space-saving solutions of sofa beds and convertible or concealed models.
Functionality, design and styles: what contributes to the choice of a bed
When choosing a bed, it is essential to assess the space available first of all to avoid choosing a model that is too bulky. Moreover, being a furniture in close contact with the body and for many hours in a row, it is very important that it is made of resistant, easily washable, natural, hypoallergenic and long-lasting materials. Then finishes, colours and components can be combined in different models and styles, for all possible functional and aesthetic needs. The basic element of each bed - the structure - influences more than anything else the shape and aesthetics of this furniture. A bed frame can be made of wood, solid or plywood, lacquered or natural, or metal. And the design of the structure can tend towards a classic taste, with more voluminous workmanship and padding, or a contemporary, minimalist style, more suitable for optimizing spaces. The slimmer and lighter structure of modern beds, made with innovative materials and technologies, allows to minimize the encumbrance and to place them everywhere. The bed is therefore the mirror of the space that surrounds it, according to different styles: classic or contemporary, Scandinavian or ethnic, minimal or full of decorations and padding, going well beyond the simple purpose of sleeping and resting.
How to place the bed inside the room
The sleeping area, a space dedicated in general to moments of relaxation, finds in the bed the main furnishing element, allowing a perfect rest and the possibility to lie down at any time of the day, to sleep or even just relax watching TV or reading a book, even turning into a soft office to work with computers or tablets.
The first variable to be defined is whether it is intended to accommodate one or two people, and therefore be single, double and so on, with various intermediate formats. Formats that have to be compared with the dimensions of the room as well as with the overall dimensions of the openings of doors, windows and passageways in general: at least 50 cm around the bed, which becomes 70 cm in case of a closet opening nearby. On the other hand, if space is minimal, the bed can be moved to a corner, thus halving the side corridors, or it can be lifted up on a mezzanine unit and obtained under other functions. The height of the ceiling of a bedroom, in fact, makes it possible to use both a canopy, almost "room within the room", and a loft, by raising the top of the bed and integrating underneath, for example, a wardrobe or a study corner.
Let's find out how a bed is made: main components and materials
In the western tradition, the bed is a complex piece of furniture made up of different elements. An essential part is the base, which will accommodate the mattress: it can be simply a raised surface on vertical supports, called legs, or it can be a closed parallelepiped, with or without an internal container, with the resting surface that can sometimes take various positions, both with mechanical and electric movement.
Then there is the net, which has as its primary function the support of the body and mattress; it can be made of steel, with more or less wide and rigid mesh, or wooden slats, according to the required flexibility. Base and bed base together form the actual structure of the bed, while any soft surfaces and padding characterize the covering, removable or not depending on the need for easier cleaning. The simple combination of bed base and legs, without headboard, is also proposed as a unique object with the name of sommier. Moving on to the metal bed structures, wrought iron and, since the 19th century, brass have been among the most used materials over time, before more innovative and cheaper ones appeared, giving rise to steel beds, aluminium beds, light alloy or carbon fibre beds, up to those partly made of glass. Decisive for comfort is then the mattress, it interposes a soft layer between the base structure and the body. Depending on the various requirements, it can be made with many different materials and layers, and therefore different heights. Then, observing the oriental tradition, the bed is greatly simplified by reducing itself to a single component, the "futon", which in Japanese culture literally means "rolled-up mattress". The futon is in fact a portable cotton bed-mattress, which can be used if necessary lying on the floor or on a mat with insulating function, called tatami, traditionally made of rice straw covered with rush.
Accessories and components that add versatility to the bed
To integrate the essential components of the bed, some accessories and additional elements have characterized over time styles and functions, in some cases becoming essential parts of contemporary design beds. For example, the covering of the structure has given life to the increasingly widespread type of upholstered bed, often proposed by the same brands specializing in upholstered seating. Whether it is a fabric bed or a leather bed, it has a wooden or metal frame with possibly fireproof polyester foam, polyurethane or latex foam padding. The cover can be fixed, quilted or capitonné, or removable and therefore periodically washable and easily replaceable. The upholstered bed is often completed by the inevitable headboard, to which the padding gives maximum expression and usefulness, just like the back of a sofa and, as for the latter, we find beds with high or capitonné headboard, as well as adjustable headboards, which, in addition to having the function of a cushion or headrest, are completely adapted to accommodate those who rest or lean on it to read or watch TV.
The headboard, moreover, as a highly versatile element, can integrate shelves or holders, supporting books or lamps, but also a built-in lighting, as well as hide a wardrobe space, in the bed with storage headboard, useful to store pillows and blankets, until it becomes a real wardrobe.
Not always present, with a function more aesthetic than practical, there is the footboard, mirroring the headboard but at the foot of the bed. As an encumbrance, it is located in a large bedroom. To complete the volume of a bed, integrated containers and drawers fill the remaining space, often exploiting the part between the net and the floor. The bed with container, although of ancient origin, has in recent decades developed new opening technologies to facilitate its use. In fact, the lifting mechanism of the net, inclined or parallel to the floor, allows you to easily store and recover everything under the bed, resulting, with a slightly larger footprint, very useful in case of absence or to support an insufficient wardrobe. To keep your everyday objects tidy and at hand, you can place bedside tables with doors and drawers or simple coffee tables next to the bed. Even one or more shelves, with or without integrated LED lighting, can fulfil the same function, especially where free space is limited to the wall alone.
Single, double, French style, queen and king size: let's discover all the dimensions of the bed
Each country, people and tradition has developed its own nomenclature to define the dimensions related to a bed and its standards. In general in Europe the most common division is in single bed (with a range of widths 75-120 cm) and double bed with possible widths 160, 180 and 200 cm, of which the most common is 180 cm. For example, in Italy, the measurements of the bed, also called "squares", are classified into 5 categories, in ascending order: the single or single bed, the bed with one and a half squares, followed, with 20 cm more, by the French bed, up to the double bed, and the now rare triple bed or King Size bed, which responded to the need to accommodate an entire family with children.
If we sleep instead in Portugal, in the Anglo-Saxon countries or in North America, a new classification in single beds (single or twin) emerges, then Queen Size (160 cm × 190 cm) and King Size (180 cm × 190 cm), up to the more recent and comfortable California King (183 × 212 cm) or Super King Size (180 × 200 cm). Similar classifications have also been acquired by countries in the Indian and Indonesian area, as well as in China, while the Japanese classification follows country-specific standards. In general, the single bed, due to its size, is intended for a single occupant only, is the easiest to arrange in the furniture of a room, in a resting corner of the living room or study, as a dormeuse, and can also give space underneath, with a few cm more, a comfortable extra bed for guests.
The double bed, on the other hand, is no longer only intended for couples but, for its comfort, is also increasingly chosen by singles, ensuring a better psycho-physical state when waking up. Because of its size, it requires a dedicated space, away from the living area, when possible, or raised on a mezzanine, turning from time to time into a relaxation area, but also into a work area, with a computer or tablet.
The thousand faces of the bed: transformative solutions and more or less known combinations
In support of the contemporary home, with its ever-smaller dimensions but infinite new functions, the market offers as many new solutions: from extra foldaway beds to sofa beds, to the many convertible beds able to combine in a single piece of furniture the comfort for sleeping at night and the soft relaxation of a pouf or a sofa, necessary instead of during the day. The sofa bed, convertible furniture par excellence, can become, with a few quick gestures, both a single bed, even more compact if it is an armchair bed, and a larger double bed, adapting to houses and rooms of small size, such as studios. The sofa bed is very often completed by drawers and backrests equipped to store the complementary parts of the bed once closed, so that everything can be tidied up in an instant.
There are also pull-out or fold-down beds, which respectively hide an extra bed underneath or on the wall, hiding it when not in use.
In a room with a very small surface area, you can try inserting two beds in the space of just one, superimposing them in parallel in the classic bunk bed, or, rotated by 90°, in the L-shaped beds, or, finally, lifting the bed alone on a structure, to leave space under a desk or a wardrobe or storage unit, a sofa or an armchair, as in the loft bed. The bunk bed was born to make it possible to rest in minimal spaces, for example in merchant ships, where for work you could live for months without seeing the mainland, or on trains, for the transport of passengers in third class, since travel could require more nights on the road. Today, travel times have been significantly reduced and cruises, such as leisure trips, provide spaces and luxuries previously reserved for a few. Bunk beds that were not "traveling" were first used to increase capacity in crowded places such as dormitories, to the most common use in domestic environments and for hospitality: from houses, especially for children's bedrooms, to hostels, bungalows, caravans, campers and wherever the space for rest is a component to be optimized. They were also soon equipped with a ladder, for access to the upper floor, and the necessary fall prevention barriers, especially useful for the safety of the little ones.
Able to evoke castles and fairy atmospheres, the four-poster bed, back in the limelight with modern design, has its roots already in ancient Rome, when it enveloped and protected the triclinium bed outdoors. In the Middle Ages, however, the Nordic peoples began to use it closed with heavy tents to protect themselves from the cold. In the following historical periods, the four-poster bed has continuously entered the home furnishing until the last century, allowing both better privacy and protection from insects. Now a common furnishing element, the canopy is ideal to create an alcove and protect the private dimension of its users. Today, however, the temporary and portable bed par excellence remains the inflatable bed, a practical and useful solution, both at home and on the move, as an extra bed and for an easy reception of guests. Consisting of the mattress alone, with adequate thickness, it is also suitable for outdoor or camping relaxation. It is easily inflated with an electric pump and is available in different sizes, modular and modular according to the contingent need.