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When we head to the high street or the internet to buy a new bed, there are a whole range of different things that we are encouraged to focus on in order to ensure that our purchase results in a good night’s sleep. And while much of the comfort of a bed has to do with the mattress that we pair our bed frame with, and the bedding that we dress it with for optimum warmth and comfort, it is the bed frame and structure itself which determines the size, quality, and style of the piece’s overall finish.
Beds dominate an industry so successful that they have an entire room named after them – with the bedroom existing as a room centred entirely around the structure and concept of the bed. As such, the industry around beds has grown and developed exponentially over the years, moving away from pure functionality and becoming something that today we focus on as an aesthetic trend and a decision which can mean the difference between a stylish bedroom and a very ordinary one.
To look at the bed industry as a whole is to acknowledge how different styles of bed have been developed through the decades and different eras, employing varying levels of craftsmanship and utilising different trends in the home styling sector and furniture world which each play their part in elevating the importance and prominence of beds in the home.
Where once the bed market was made up of simple frames with various slats designs and solid bases, hand crafted and built from different hardwoods and materials, and featuring uniquely ornate and rustic designs including an assortment of different headboards and textural patterns, the modern market features a variety of bed styles which not only look different but also serve different functions.
The simple fact is that the standard shape and concept of a bed has not changed in its thousands of years of history. Beds are still flat (not counting those more modern variations with mechanisms that allow them to be sat up and adjusted in line with various health ailments), and they still feature solid bases topped with soft mattresses and layers to promote comfort.
As consumers, the stages of our lives, from childhood through to adulthood, are represented in the beds we occupy and the styles we require. From baby cots up to adult beds, the place where we sleep is arguably the most important item of furniture in the house – providing everything from a safe place to hide from monsters, to a space for relaxation and optimum comfort. And so, the choice and variety of beds we have to choose from is huge, including:
The list really does go on. And while the industry and various retailers in the sector would have you believe that each season introduces a new style or aesthetic trend around these different beds and what is most beneficial to the user, we return to the basic idea that beds in general have not changed in thousands of years in terms of their most basic structure – and so always buying the latest model and ignoring the discounted ‘last season’ stock may in fact mean passing up an opportunity to benefit from a deal which could save a great deal of money.
From wood craftsmen to high street retailers, the places where consumers can source and purchase their beds from is expanding every year; with more brands and retailers widening their product lines to adapt to various trends, the call for different aesthetic bed frames, and the ways in which manufacturers are continuing to use new materials including metal and fabrics in order to craft different styles of bed.
For many consumers, the most convenient retailers are those which specialise in the sale of beds and which dedicate entire showrooms to the various styles in order to let consumers see what they are buying before they get it home. This is particularly useful for those who operate as ecommerce stores, and those who ship their bed products out as flatpacks which need to be assembled by the consumer.
Some of the top examples of bed specialist retailers at the top of the industry include:
Another line of retailers which play a big part in the bed industry is the furniture retailers and homeware stores which stock beds alongside all manner of other items of furniture. For consumers, these are the ideal retail solutions for bedrooms which are put together from scratch using complimentary furniture items, for example natural oak beds to match complimentary wardrobes, chest of drawers and other statement items of furniture. Some of the top examples of these more generic furniture retailers include:
And then we have the local crafters and independent stores, where consumers tend to pay more and can often have some input into the design and creation of their bed frame and product. These products come with a longer lead time and are often selected by those with clear visions for the aesthetics of their room and the finish they want to achieve – for example those who want their bed to resemble certain shapes or structures.
With so many home styling and home decor accounts now dominating social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, a quick search for the hashtag #beds serves over 400,000 results - showcasing exactly how beds have developed to become something that consumers take great pride in with regards to aesthetic and appearance. This is supported by the vast rise in bed accessories which are available through high street retailers and small independent stores, with brands creating innovative and stylish items to sit on or alongside the bed and turn it into something suited to a specific theme or finish. Examples include bedside tables, bed quilts and throws, pillows and cushions, and technology related gadgets like phone pockets which clip to the side of the bed and reading lights which attach atop the headboard or bed frame.
Another trend in the beds industry which follows closely on from the above and the rise in decorative focus is the concept of decorative headboards and the idea that headboards can now be purchased as separate entities – allowing consumers to purchase a bed frame from a high street or more affordable retailer and then enhance its aesthetic through an extravagant headboard. Some of the best examples of intricate and ornate headboards can be found in both homeware stores and through independent creators and small businesses, with marketplace sites providing the ideal market through which to shop for these kinds of bed accessories.
Another growing trend in the bed industry is the rise in smart beds – both as functional beds in the healthcare sector for care homes and hospitals, and in the private sector as products which promote better sleep and which feature hidden technologies in their framing and structuring across all levels and touch points. The beds designed for hospital use and care homes are those which feature mechanisms built into the frame which allow the user to sit the entire bed up, or create various arches and rises in the centre and along the length of the bed which is conducive to supporting various ailments and pains. These beds tend to be manufactured through companies that target and cater for the commercial healthcare sector rather than the private market, with entire businesses built on the creation of beds for hospitals, care homes and other healthcare sector-led industries and spaces.
In the private bed market, technological intervention is much more about user experience and entertainment than supporting the body, with technology being built into the surrounding framing rather than the bed itself. One great example is the rise in beds which appear to be similar to traditional four poster beds but using a harder surface around the outside and above the bed rather than fabric. This hard frame then turns into a cinema surround for the user to enjoy while lying in bed. A similar example but one which is a little simpler features a television screen built into the foot of the bed – which can be accessed through the click of a button.
And then we have the rise in travel and the growing idea that anywhere can be a bed and any place should provide a great night’s sleep as long as you are happy to sleep there. This has led to the rise in camper vans and camping beds being developed in line with consumers needs, optimising comfort and finding ways of making beds on the go more of an attractive concept for young travellers and families. The fact is that years ago, beds were infinitely practical with little eye on detail and the things that make beds premium and stand out. Now, however, what we have developed is an industry which expands outside of the bedroom and encompasses all areas of travel – with the idea of a bed to sleep in being the one thing which unites every corner and crevice of the travel sector. No matter how luxurious or basic a travel experience is, the end of the day always results in heading to bed – and so the industry is slowly developing and ensuring that all of those examples of beds receive the same focus in terms of comfort and enhancement. Meanwhile, beds in hotels have also seen a sharp rise in terms of their quality, with many high street and more boutique hotels now using their beds as an integral part of their marketing strategy – for example Premier Inn, which uses famous faces as a way of promoting the comfort of their beds for the average traveller.
When it comes to the bed industry, the focus of consumers will always be split between practicality, functionality, and aesthetic appearance. The bed is a focal point of the bedroom, and thus should always be selected in line with the space available and the design style being created through the surrounding décor. For many, this means heading to large retail outlets where standard bed frames and designs can be paired and matched with complimentary items of furniture which will give the entire room a sense of seamless harmony. For others, choosing a bed is something which is more about utilising the space in the optimum way – for example selecting a divan bed with concealed storage drawers, or a midi bed to give your child somewhere to play and sit as well as somewhere to sleep.
One of the key things in the bed industry is that sales are always occurring, and discount vouchers pop up on a seasonal basis – with “last season” stock reduced to make room for new and upgraded bed frames. For those interested in getting their next bed at the best price, consider buying from these last season product ranges, under the understanding that the basic concept and design of a bed hasn’t changed in thousands of years – and so unless you want the latest smart bed feature, last season will provide everything you need.
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