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let's go to bed how to buy a new bed
by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 1

A little more research later and at a different shop of course, we finally accomplished our mission. These days, we're finally sleeping on a real bed, and it's the best sleep I've ever had in my life.

For those of us who are new to the wide wide world of mattress sales, buying a new bed can feel like a never-ending nightmare. Armed with a little knowledge of what to do and expect, though, you'll find yourself with the bed of your dreams a whole lot sooner. Whether you're considering moving out of the futon stage of life or looking for a new bed to replace a sagging hand-me-down, check out our tips on navigating that sometimes confusing world of mattress retail…

bed basics
A traditional bed consists of a mattress (the cushy top part), the box spring/foundation (the rigid bottom part), and either a base (generally a metal frame on which the box spring sits) or little legs that screw directly into the foundation. You can add on a headboard or footboard to fancy things up, but structurally, the first three are all you need for a sound night's sleep (actually, you probably don't even truly need the frame/legs, though elevating the bed off the floor tends to look a little nicer), and buying this combo will generally be the most affordable option. Indeed, most mattress stores price mattresses and box springs as a set.

These days, however, a lot of people prefer to buy European-style platform beds instead, which generally sit lower to the ground. Platform beds eliminate the need for the separate box spring and base; just pop the mattress on the platform frame, and you're ready to go. As they're generally meant to be seen -- unlike the box spring, which typically gets covered up by bedding -- there's more that goes into their aesthetic design, and hence, you'll probably have to shell out more dough for the platform bed. Moreover, platform beds are generally carried by furniture shops, which can offer mattresses, but with a narrower selection than mattress specialists. So do you buy the bed frame first, so you know for sure that you won't need that box spring, or head to the mattress store first, since, after all, you can sleep on a mattress without a frame, but not so much vice versa?

Reading up on mattresses, I read many a dire warning about the need to buy the mattress with its corresponding box spring to ensure maximum bed performance. Honestly, this strikes me as just a ploy to get folks to toss even more money towards the mattress manufacturers. If you're looking for an entirely new bed and preliminary window-shopping suggests that you prefer the platform style, skip the bulky box spring and buy the mattress alone. If scouring furniture stores doesn't turn up a platform bed you like, you can always go back to the store and get the matching box spring later.


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