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What To Know If You Are Considering An Antique Bed Frame

Everyone has their own decorating style, whether it’s minimalist, modern, farmhouse chic, contemporary, or undefined. For the most part, homes tend to have a consistent design style throughout. For many, vintage and antique furniture are a staple in their home design. An antique dresser may be the perfect accent on a Joanna Gaines’ inspired shiplap wall, or a vintage photo could be the finishing touch in a minimalist’s living room. 

If you enjoy decorating with antiques, you’ve likely encountered an unforeseen problem at some point or another. Just like older homes have quirks that need to be updated, vintage and antique furniture often have variations that may not align with current needs. Antique beds, in particular, don’t always measure up to today’s sleeping standards. Don’t let this crush your dreams of a beautiful vintage bed frame though, you can still have that key piece in your home – there are just a few things to consider before finalising your purchase. 

What to consider before purchasing an antique bed

  • Mattress Size: Today, mattresses come in a variety of sizes including Twin, Full/Double, Queen, King, California King, Twin-XL, and more. However, Queen and King size mattresses weren’t introduced until the 1950’s. Prior to that, Full/Double beds were the primary standard.  So, if you’re looking for an antique frame to fit your King size mattress, you’ll need to stick to those made after 1950.
  • Firmness And Stability: Mattress firmness has a big impact on a person’s quality of sleep – and everyone’s needs are a little different. Prior to 1910, bed frames were designed to fit mattresses, without a box spring. When box springs were introduced to create a firmer sleep space and offer more stability, bed frames had to be resized to accommodate the new addition.
  • Length: When Queen and King mattresses were introduced in the 1950’s, they were not only wider but longer as well. Twin and Full/Double mattresses were 72” long but Queen and King mattresses offered 80” – offering anyone over six feet tall a much happier sleep experience. Eventually, Twin and Full/Double beds grew to be 75” long, which remains the standard today.
  • Conversions: There are ways to convert full/double-size antique frames to fit today’s standard mattresses (Queen-size is typically the largest you can go), but it may affect the overall value of the frame. There are conversion kits available as well as professionals who specialize in converting antique furniture (which is likely the better option to preserve the frame as much as possible). 

While there are a lot of factors associated with an antique bed frame, don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of beautiful pieces of furniture that were made after 1950 that will likely fit today’s furniture with no problem. If the piece you have your eye on is older, just make sure you do your research and take a lot of measurements before handing over payment. No matter what style you’re going for, quality furniture is an investment. Your bed is the primary place where you go to find refuge and rest in your home, so it deserves to be invested in. 


Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favourite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.  

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9 Comments

  • Reply Treasure Every Moment

    Both of my daughter’s have antique bed frames that were handed down through family and I absolutely love them! They are so classic and with a lick of paint they look good as new 🙂

    23rd July 2019 at 11:16 AM
  • Reply Rebecca Smith

    I’d love an antique bed frame but I always had my worries. This has alleviated them a little though.

    23rd July 2019 at 4:32 PM
  • Reply Valerie

    I’ve never had an antique bed frame. You make some good points, particularly the one about mattress sizes.

    23rd July 2019 at 4:58 PM
  • Reply Jess Howliston

    I would absolutely love an antique bed frame, I had no idea about the size differences in them though! My mum had this beautiful wooden antique bed frame but it was SO heavy and chunky you couldn’t move it anywhere lol!

    23rd July 2019 at 9:56 PM
  • Reply Rhian Westbury

    I never knew that king size didn’t really exist until a bit later, which is a shame as it’s the size mattress we have x

    24th July 2019 at 1:06 PM
  • Reply Nayna Kanabar

    This post had taught me a lot about the history of beds that I never knew . Very interesting to learn these facts.

    24th July 2019 at 8:24 PM
  • Reply emma

    Ooooh, I would love a different bed frame ( and mattress ) but there’s so much to think about.

    26th July 2019 at 8:47 PM
  • Reply Claire Roach

    I have an antique bed frame, stunning aren’t they!

    27th July 2019 at 9:27 PM
  • Reply Jennifer

    I love the look of antique bed frames. We have a modern one but I love the more retro look and feel of antique ones.

    27th July 2019 at 10:56 PM
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