Beds with a history - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Beds with a history

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Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2006 6:18 am | Updated: 4:36 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Though not necessarily a new idea, the platform bed is certainly an unusual one.

Also known as the futon’s more mature and stylish twin, the platform is making its way into modern homes.

The old adage of adding something by taking something away is the platform bed’s motto.

The traditional box spring is gone. So is the bed skirt. And the headboard may be missing as well, leaving a nearly naked but ultra-sleek look for your bedroom.

When Robin and Tim Wolff moved into their Paradise Valley home, they decided to start from the ground up and sold all their furniture. Robin Wolff says the couple wanted a fresh, midcentury modern look in their new home.

“All of the beds in this home are platform,” she says. “They certainly speak to that period.”

The platform bed’s design can be traced back to several eras. Kenneth Brown, host of HGTV’s “re-Design,” says platform furniture was once used as honorific seating before the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-807).

“They were used for sitting as well as reclining,” says Brown. “Over time they evolved into a more stylistic, box-style platform used for relaxing or sleeping.”

Some design sources say the platform bed further evolved during the Edo period in Japan (1500-1780), a design era characterized by the principles of simplicity, restrained elegance and the Zen aspect of harmony with nature. At one time, Japanese beds were made of blankets laid upon straw mats, which over time developed into the low, clean lines of the platform.

Diane Berg, of the retro-furnishings store Design Within Reach in Scottsdale, says the trend toward platform beds really took off in the United States during the postwar period, when minimalist and simplistic furniture was at the height of its popularity.

“After World War II, (furniture designer Charles) Eames started making molded plywood splints, and then transferred it over into furniture,” says Berg.

A low, streamlined look works equally well in expansive homes and in small spaces like lofts and condos, says Berg. The key is to make sure what surrounds the bed is in proportion.

“Typically, you’ll have a bedside table that’s lower, also a lower-lying dresser. Everything should be harmonious to the eye,” says Berg, who adds that those who prefer a bit more height to their furnishings can add a headboard.

Berg also promises that eliminating the box spring doesn’t mean compromising comfort. “I don’t have a box spring on mine, and notice no difference,” she says.

Wolff, too, says she and her husband switched to a special mattress when they purchased their platform bed, with foam that she says “molds to our bodies,” so there’s some give.

The only challenge she’s noticed with their change in bed style is the fine art of making the bed.

“It’s a little more complicated, there’s a little more work to it,” she says. “You’re not just throwing a big comforter on it. You want to tuck everything in.”


Design Within Reach

4821 N. Scottsdale Road Scottsdale (480) 970-8800

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