Buying a bed: everything you need to know

buying a bed

As I lie in my soft office (aka my bed), I can’t help but feel it’s time for an upgrade. I think it’s a tell tale sign. Every time I move I can hear the creaks and crunches from the mattress springs beneath me.

Buying a bed can be a minefield. So if you also have a creaky mattress and are longing for a great night’s sleep, read on. Here’s a step by step guide on how to choose the right bed for you.

Buying a bed: time it right

Do you ever wake up with aching shoulders and pains in your back that mysteriously appear the minute you step out of bed in the morning? No, you’re not getting old, it may be down to your bed. So buying a bed, aka buying a new frame and mattress, may be a good idea.

It’s so important to put some thought into what you choose to sleep on. After all, getting some shut eye is key to having a good and productive day.

In fact, we should be buying a bed every ten years. If waking up in pain won’t get you down to your nearest showroom, another sign is damage to your bed frame. Inevitably, it will become worn over a few years. Sleeping with damaged slats in the bedstead equals poor-quality support and discomfort.

A wooden frame
Wooden bed frames add elegance to your scheme. The Christo bed from Pinch costs £6850.

Choosing the mattresss

Now,  I know I’m guilty here as my mattress hasn’t been replaced in over 10 years (or more) – no wonder I can’t remember the last time I had a decent night’s sleep.

A large measure of the price of your new bed is what goes inside it – particularly the mattress. While you want your new piece of furniture to look good in your space, you should make time to research your options.

A budget mattress will consist of a coil or open sprung unit connected at the top and bottom with minimal layers of upholstery, while more expensive ones will have many layers of fillings – such as memory and latex foam or natural ingredients like mohair, cashmere, horsehair and silk.

While there are so many to choose from, it all depends on the kind of support you need. For example, foam has anti-microbial properties, so is good for allergy sufferers, but others may find it too hot to sleep on as it doesn’t breathe as natural materials do. And if you share a bed with your partner, pocket-sprung designs are often a great solution as the individual springs move independently, so you shouldn’t get jostled around.

A great mattress is essential when you're buying a bed
Choosing the right mattress is vital to have for a good night’s sleep. The Maranga mattress from Hästens is priced at £6695.

Buying a bed: always try it out first

Test, test and more testing. While it may be awkward at first, going around a showroom laying on multiple beds – this is key to finding the one that’s right for you.

When you try out beds in store, take off your jacket or coat (and shoes, if necessary – double check with the sales assistants!). Arrange yourself in your usual sleeping position, and lie down for a few minutes.

The range of tensions available vary from soft, medium and hard which are made to cater to different body weights, so don’t just look at the label – try before you buy.

Keep in mind that nowadays, buying online is easier as there is generally an extended trial period for you to try the bed and mattress – it can be up to 100 days, giving you plenty of time to test it out before you commit to keep it.

An orange velvet design
Add colour to a neutral scheme with a bold bed frame. The Alba bed is priced at £2149. Available from Heal’s.

Measure your space

While the bigger the frame, the better for comfort – remember to take note of the dimensions of your bedroom before popping into the showroom or searching online. The last thing you want is to try and lug your new bed through the window because it’s just two centimetres too wide to fit through the door frame.

Also, you could consider choosing a slightly less expensive bed frame and put savings towards going for a larger one – especially if you’re sharing with someone. Having enough space to sleep is beneficial as this will give you a better night’s sleep.

A blue velvet model which could be an option if you're buying a bed
Choose a velvet headboard for comfort when reading a book or watching television. The Hattie blue velvet bed, is priced at £450. Available from Habitat.

Remember it’s all about that base

While the mattress is, of course, key to your comfort, a good foundation is crucial. There’s no use having a great mattress if the frame wobbles, slats fall through or it’s just plain knackered.

When deciding on your new bed, think about its base first, because different styles definitely change the feel. A divan design, for example, provides a more solid foundation and feels firmer when you lie down, while the classic styles with slats give the mattress a space to sit in, so it won’t move around.

Furl Mirage design
It may only be 32cm high, but Furl’s Mirage bed, from £1480, hides a 33cm-deep storage space inside – ideal for suitcases, shoe boxes, or bedding – with an end or side opening mechanism, so you can access it from all three sides.

Decide on style when buying a bed

Aside from comfort and durability when buying a bed, there’s another very important point: design. There are lots of shapes, colours, and sizes to choose from, both when it comes to headboards and bed frames, and now is the time to go for one you really like.

Don’t be afraid to go bold. Fancy a glamorous velvet upholstered divan with a headboard to compliment the walls? Or perhaps a more compact oak slatted wooden bed frame for that retro-vintage look? Go for it. Do you really want to add the wow factor to your master bedroom when buying a bed? Then why not design your own headboard to give it a truly unique feel?

As long as you like it (and it’s not too big for the room – you need to be able to walk around the bed), it’s perfect.

Savoir Beds from Steve Leung could be an option if you're buying a bed
The Screen Bed from Savoir is the latest collaboration between the brand and Hong Kong-based architect Steve Leung. The headboard features two dual-hinged panels in a bold lime green, referencing traditional Chinese folding screens. A full bed set starts from £20,388.

Take care of it

Finally, once your new bed is in its pride of place, don’t sit on the edge – and don’t let the kids bounce on it.  Like any new purchase, check the care instructions to keep it looking at its best. For example, your new mattress may need turning from time to time, as this helps the upholstery fillings to settle more evenly. 

Colourful headboard
Add personality into your bedroom with a colourful headboard. The Yushan upholstered bed frame is priced at £669. Available from The Original Bed Co.


Generally bed frames and divans don’t include the price of the mattress. So make sure to double check with the retailer when buying a bed. The final cost will vary depending on the upholstery and finish you choose. You can get a stylish bed for around £600, adding £400 for a decent mattress.

If the budget allows when buying a bed, you can pay up to £20000 for the bed of your dreams.

buying a bed
Buying a bed? This is the Show Wood double bed frame from John Lewis & Partners. It’s upholstered in a woven man-made fabric in topaz pink with a curved headboard. They designed the headboard at a subtle angle for extra comfort when sitting up in bed. The sprung slats provide extra support and the bed requires self-assembly. Priced £699, combined with the Natural Collection swaledale wool double mattress priced £1399.

Now after all that, I’m off to start the process of buying a bed. Who’s coming with me? 

Featured image: Add a statement headboard to create a focal point in your bedroom. The Ariel upholstered bed is £2410, if you’re in the market for buying a bed. Available from Sweetpea & Willow.

So, did you love this post on buying a bed? Then you’ll also enjoy four top tips for buying a new mattress.

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