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Which base is best – bedstead or divan?

Image of a divan base @mindy_schroor

Which base is best – bedstead or divan?

You know you need a new bed, but which base is best for you – bedstead or divan? Read on to understand the difference between the two, and the importance of choosing the right kind of mattress. A good night’s sleep will be guaranteed!

What is a divan?

Consisting of an upholstered base that acts as a platform for the mattress, a divan traditionally comes with the option of drawers as part of the base. Our living spaces are shrinking, so having extra storage under the bed to stash spare bedding or seasonal clothing is a real gift.

Is there a choice of divan bases?

Yes, there are two types of divan bases available. Sprung-edge divans boast a higher price tag. These feature built-in springs that act like a giant shock absorber, increasing the mattress’s durability and creating a more cushioned and softer base for your mattress.

Solid or platform-top divans have a solid panel top – often made from hardboard – that offers a sturdy base for your mattress. Beds with these bases are generally firmer as well as cheaper than beds with sprung bases.

Should a mattress and divan be bought together?

It isn’t usually a good idea to update a mattress but keep the original divan base. That’s because the old base can reduce the support and comfort it offers. However, we can’t all afford to splash out! Run a few checks to work out if you really need a new base. If it’s sagging or has springs out of place, or if it squeaks or creaks when it’s in use, it may be wise to buy a new one.

What do I need to know when buying a bedstead?

Bedsteads feature a slatted base – usually made of wood – that’s either solid or sprung, which affects the feel of the mattress. Solid-slatted bases tend to be firmer, while sprung-slatted bases are more responsive.

What styles of bedstead are available?

You spend a lot of time in bed, so it’s essential to find a bedstead that’s sturdy and supportive, and also suits your style. Popular choices include:

  • An upholstered bedstead covered in a choice of material such as velvet, faux leather or suede
  • A timeless wooden bedstead (look for one crafted from sustainable sources)
  • A metal bedstead (steer clear of super-cheap metal beds that tend to squeak a little and move around)
Should I buy a new mattress and bedstead together?

Generally, experts advise replacing your mattress at the same time as your bedstead. This is because the old base can reduce the support and comfort it offers. Of course, if you’re updating your bedroom on a budget, a new mattress and bedstead may seem a bit of a luxury. Check whether you need both by inspecting the frame. If it’s sturdy, there are no parts (such as slats or bolts) missing, all screws and bolts are tight and the frame doesn’t squeak or creak when it’s in use, you may not need a new one. Just ensure that your new mattress is designed to work with a slatted base, as some are better suited to a solid base or divan.

Firm, medium or soft?

Mattresses have different comfort levels: firm, medium or soft. However, there’s no industry-wide standard to compare these ratings; instead, they vary from one manufacturer to another. So, when it comes to finding the right mattress, focus on how it feels to you rather than manufacturers’ descriptions. The support you need depends on several factors: your weight, height, build and preferred sleeping position. As a general rule, the heavier you are, the firmer the comfort level you’ll need.

What about ottoman beds?

Ottoman beds have a lift-up mattress so you can use the space in the base for storage. With the solid-looking base, they resemble a divan, but are essentially a bedstead because the base is hollow and you sleep on a slatted frame. Most ottomans have a hydraulic mechanism to help lift up the base, but the mattress on top still needs to be relatively light. For example, metal-sprung mattress may be too heavy so you might be better going for a memory foam one. Ask advice from your mattress seller before committing.

Is size important when buying a new bedstead or divan?

If you and your partner both want to sleep well, size matters. That’s because the larger the bed, the less likely you are to disturb your partner. According to The Sleep Council, you’ll know that your bed is big enough when you can lie side by side, with your arms behind your head and your elbows out without them touching. Another top tip from the experts: your bed should be 10 to 15cm longer than the tallest partner. Anyone over 6ft (1.8m) tall should consider a bed longer than standard.

Are bed sizes standardised?

In a word, no. In fact, even beds that have the same name (such as king size) may not be the same size – especially if the mattress and base aren’t from the same manufacturer. So, when you’re buying a new bed, always check its dimensions.

Featured image: The bold and colourful bedroom belonging to @mindy_schroor.

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