Cuckooland’s Ultimate Bed Buying Guide

Everyone knows how it feels to arrive home after a hard day… (enter the long collective ‘sigh’).

The idea of hitting the pillow, falling into a reverie until the sun crawls back into the sky again is simply heaven. A fine night’s sleep should never be taken for granted; it’s one of our favourite pursuits.

Cuckooland is close enough to Hushaby Mountain to spot the very best beds on earth. From these vaunted peaks, we’ve amassed a stash of adult sleepers for couples, bachelors and guests of all sizes. But what do you look for in a bed, and what are the distinctions between them all?

We’ve put together a thorough guide to all things sleep-tastic, to help you whittle down the options when choosing a new bed…

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Size Guide

So, you’re a curious furnishing connoisseur, eager to give your bedroom an upgrade. Where do you start with the most important aspect of your sanctuary – the place you’ll return to, day after day, that won’t let you down?

Clearly, the size of your bed is going to determine a lot of your decision-making. Without a firm grasp of what’ll fit in the room, as well as how it can match the scale of accompanying décor, you’ll be taking a huge gamble.

Thankfully, speccing up the room doesn’t need to be complicated. Standard beds fall into four categories, distinguished by their width and length. Here are the measurements they fall under:

  • 3ft UK Standard Single. 90cm x 190cm / 3′ x 6’3″: A single bed is the smallest size of adult bed available. It’s perfect for older children, or guest suites that only need a bed for occasional use.
  • 4ft UK Small double. 120cm x 190cm / 4′ x 6’3″: These beds are six inches longer, meaning they’re more suited to adults. They are a sensible choice for guest bedrooms with limited space, allowing you to accommodate extra sleepy heads!
  • 4ft6 UK Double. 135cm x 190cm / 4’6 x 6’3″: These are the most common features of a master bedroom, allowing two people to sleep together quite comfortably. While they aren’t preferable for a pair of guests – two small double beds (see above) will give each person more freedom to wiggle in the night – they’re a standard choice for close-knit couples and single homeowners who like to spread out.
  • 5ft UK King size. 150cm x 200cm / 5′ x 6’6″: The ultimate in sleeper satisfaction, a King-size bed is a grand statement for your interior, forming the width of two small single beds combined. Only bedrooms with enough floor space can house such an item, but it’s definitely worth its weight in gold…
  • 6ft UK Superking size. 180cm x 200cm / 6′ x 6’6″: Offering another boatload of space for its horizontal dimensions, the Super King bed is a step up from a regular King, letting you and your Mr/Mrs enjoy a rest without bumping into each other when rolling over in the night!

Remember, before we move on, that these measurements are the industry average. They conform to the size of an accompanying mattress – it’s possible that the full length of the bed is a touch bigger, when we factor in head and foot-end features too!

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Bed Types

Of course, size is by no means the only thing to consider. Beyond their contours, beds can be separated on their intrinsic functionality: we might use one bed, for example, as our main nest, whilst others lie on the sidelines until they’re needed. We can also differentiate them on how they support a mattress, which’ll influence how the material feels and performs over time.

This is important, as beds aren’t exclusive to bedrooms, master or otherwise. Your options may include:

  • Slatted beds: The vast majority of adult beds are fitted with slats, a run of wooden or metal panels that support your mattress. These allow for ‘give’ on parts of the bed when you exert force on it, making for a secure yet flexible base. You can either go for rigid or sprung designs, the latter of which are a pinch more flexible. 
  • Divan beds: Unlike the previous category, divan beds do not have a hollowed-out mattress space. They hold it, instead, right on the frame, generally higher up than a slatted bed model. Our older Cuckooland customers sometimes prefer this, as it’s easier to get up in the morning. Often there’s a storage compartment in the base to take advantage of the specialised build. They’re almost exclusively finished with fabric materials instead of wood or MDF. 
  • Day beds: Open on one side, and closed on three, a daybed acts as a seating piece for lounges, bedrooms and guest quarters. People are fond of making them squidgy as can be with pillows, blankets and throws, maybe using them as a chill zone in front of the TV. Then, when the time’s right, you can settle down and stretch out. The sides can either be tall or hardly more than a few inches from the mattress level.
  • Trundle beds: Similar to day beds, except with a secret pull-out on the underside to slide out for a friend or relative, trundle beds can cater for two people, each having their own single space. The word ‘trundle’ refers to the rolling mechanism that enables the lower bed to emerge. Party-prone houses, as well as those with plenty of pals coming and going, will get a lot out of them.
  • Sleigh beds: Fluff up your best fur coat, because a sleigh bed will turn your bedroom into a picture of magnificence, claiming roots in the French and American styles of the 19th century. It resembles its namesake – curling head and footboards, drawing eyes to the heavily-accented frame design. Sleigh beds are available in an array of materials, including leather, crushed fabric and hardwood; also, they’re significantly heavier than others on our list.
  • Four-poster beds: A lot of buyers like having an exoskeleton of sorts over their bed, from which they can hang decorations and stash little titbits at random. Four-poster beds are the grandest of the bunch, surrounded by (you guessed it!) a quartet of support beams, usually with a thin structure on top. Such a provision, aside from being visual dynamite, can disclose shelves, drawers and draping spots for an overhead cover.
  • Bunk beds: No longer are bunk beds confined to the territory of kiddie winks the world over! You may have a fast-growing girl or boy, one who’s desperate to have a mature bed without sacrificing the novelty of the sleep station they’ve known for years. To this end, we urge you to consider a teen-approved bunk, the type with a gender-neutral palette and sharp, tasteful aesthetics.

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What is the difference between a slatted and divan bed?

The two most popular designs for a primary sleeping option – slatted and divan beds – have their own qualities to impart. If you’ve ever wondered what the crucial, real-term differences are between them, we’d like to draw such things into the light, not unlike the sun hitting your sheets in the morning…

First, let’s examine slatted bed builds, as they’re the standard in most UK homes. The slats are fixed at an even distance from one another; they expose your mattress, partially, to air that may reach it at the bottom. The material is given a chance to ‘breathe’ and circulate across its whole fibrous makeup. Divan beds don’t have the same effect, as the mattress is squarely on top of a solid base.

It’s a big bonus if you want to keep cool in the summer. Several mattress styles are suited to a slatted bed, which will maintain the airy goodness of a breathable lining.

On the other hand, slatted frames are slightly more fragile than their divan cousins, being unable to distribute the entire weight of your body across the build as a whole. If you bounce or plop too heavily, you might just break one of the beams. It doesn’t cost much to replace them, but it’s worth checking your behaviour on the bed more than a divan model, which can take a greater deal of wear and tear.

Lastly, divans can take up smaller dimensions overall than a slatted bed, simply because they do not feature a side frame. This also gives you more flexibility over the headboard. Speaking of which…

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Getting a handle on headboards

Crucially, a headboard – and a footboard, to a lesser extent – will define the aesthetic character of your bed purchase. They don’t just perform a visual function, though; headboards prevent pillows from falling down the back, add extra durability for your head and neck, and protect your walls from stains. Out of all the constituents of a bed, it will probably be the one that grabs you with the most immediacy: how it looks, what it represents, and whether it is hefty or subtle enough for your interior.

Most of our beds arrive with the headboard as part and parcel of the whole beautiful package. It’s worth looking into this before making your bed purchase; not all suppliers include them as standard. We’ll get to the various material/style effects in a moment, but here are the three kinds of headboards you’ll have at the helm of your bed:

Built-in: Designer beds tend to have a solid frame that includes both the head and footboard, creating a sturdy base for sleep. This means no wobbly headboards to worry about, and a quality frame will look and feel fantastic for years to come.

Attached: In some cases, you’ll need to purchase a headboard separately and fix it to the base. How is this done, you ask? Well, it’s not too tricky – there are screw holes in the back of the frame, so you can adjust the height of the headboard until it’s exactly where you want it to be. Then special fasteners, or ‘grommets’ as they’re known, twist onto the connective slats, holding it in place.

Wall-mounted: Wall-mounting is common amongst larger headboards; you start by ascertaining its stature, appropriate to the bed, with measuring tape, and marking the perfect level with a pen. The headboard is then fitted onto a bracket called a ‘cleat’, so it’s raised above the bed itself.

All that’s left to detail now is what type of headboard you want. It should, of course, share the same visual tone as your bed and the surrounding furniture, but this isn’t a given. Use the following categories to decide on what you’d love to call your own…

  • Wood panel: The traditional headboard is made of natural wood, or some synthetic, imitative variant. Beech, oak, pine and walnut are some of the premier choices in this wooden bed family.
  • Embellished metal: Savoured by those with more antique sensibilities, embellished headboards come in swirling, looped or finely detailed patterns, usually fashioned from metal for the preservation of the design. The material is also used to make straight bars for simpler metal beds, carrying an industrialised look.
  • Upholstered: Whether flat, layered, or stitched with an array of buttons, upholstered headboards can foster a comforting appearance in the bedroom. They’re softer too than other items, in practical terms, although they require semi-regular cleaning to keep them free of dust and any spills they might encounter.
  • Rattan: Densely woven material forms the rattan headboard, which is popular amongst French styles and rustic living. The unit can be a uniform texture or have multiple gradients of complexity from top to bottom.
  • Distressed material: An odd-sounding category, but undeniably striking, distressed furniture is purposefully made to appear worn, faded or stripped by the elements. You’ll see this headboard come up in rarefied vintage beds.
  • Bookcase: Some sleepers adore having their favourite trinkets above their head, ideal for a late-night reading session or charging your tablet device. Bookcase and shelving headboards are usually fitted to a specific storage bed; they are seldom interchangeable. Some may have a complementary clutch of inbuilt wall lights.

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Counting sheep instead of pennies

Together, we’ve strolled arm-in-arm through amazing bed solutions, laying out the fundamentals of your next purchase for the home. All of these factors will add up to the gravity, gregariousness and overall gorgeous face of your sleep station – take each point as it comes when you’re browsing through Cuckooland’s adult bed archive.

For other queries about beds, bedroom furniture and home accessories, call our Cuckooland sleepy heads on +44 (0) 1305 231231.

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