Manic Mattresses, Crazy Canopies, and Loony Linens
March 26, 2009 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm buying my first bed and first mattress, and I need help understanding mattress height, as well as where/how to find canopy linens.

My primary bed for the last 20 years is a twin daybed (which I just realized is the same as Olive’s bed in Little Miss Sunshine). The mattress is that old as well, but I guess I haven’t been too picky about mattresses, because I hadn’t really thought about getting a new one until I thought about getting a new bed.

I already ordered this bed in queen size, but I don't know how to go about putting fabric/curtains/linens/drapery/whatever-you-want-to-call-it on the bed when I set it up. Inspired by HBO's John Adams, I bought the canopy bed specifically so I could create a cozy space for myself (a room within a room). I'd like something very slightly transparent so that I'm not blocking all light, but so that someone peeking couldn't see much of what I'm doing. Also, I'd like the fabric to work like a shower curtain instead of a window curtain; opening the bed up to the outside should be easy, and I don't want to disassemble the canopy part to change/wash the fabric. There are some decent looking shower curtain hooks out there, but how do I purchase fabric with the right top hem/holes to work with those? ..and what dimensions should the fabric be? What else should I consider?

I read this, which has helped me start looking for mattresses, but I wonder how mattress height works with/without a pillowtop when buying sheets. I want a traditional coil mattress and box spring, no foam, latex or what-have-you. I don’t know if I want a pillowtop or not, but it seems that while the height of mattresses varies, the height of fitted sheets doesn’t. I’m not interested in getting into a wrestling match with these items when the time comes.

Another request coming out of my desire for the least hassle possible, I’d be grateful if anyone has any more tips for choosing a mattress. In my ideal world, I’d name a price under $1,000 (and preferably under $800) and someone would name a mattress set that I should buy. I have no idea what I want in terms of comfort, except that I run way hot, so I don’t want anything to make that worse.

I don’t really want to go to mattress stores and take trial naps, but I suppose I will. On that note, are there reputable mattress stores in the Northern VA area?
Thanks for reading my partially informed, sort of picky, bed specifications.
posted by hellogoodbye to Shopping (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just bought a mattress from Sweet Dreams Mattress. I got the Simmons Beautyrest Bamako Luxury Firm, which is a pretty firm mattress, but not the most firm available. It is amazingly comfortable and quite good at isolating movement (so when my SO moves, I am not woken up).

The service from Sweet Dreams Mattress was very good and it is seems to be a small family business. Shipping was free and the delivery was very professional.

As far as fitted sheets go, most new fitted sheets will fit most of the now thicker mattresses. I wouldn't worry about sheets fitting unless you a) have (or buy) very old sheets (I like to buy sheets at garage sales and thrift stores and occasionally will get a set that is not deep enough) or b) you buy a super deep mattress. The mattress i refer to above is about 10" deep. Sheets that I have bought new fit it fine and are mostly snug.
posted by sulaine at 7:45 AM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: Ikea sells a wide range of attractive textiles and curtain-hanging equipment. You can find some samples here.

With the type of bed you purchased, it looks like it would be pretty easy to string curtain loops with clippy things attached (I don't know what they're called, but these are rather what I have in mind) and suspend your choice of fabric from them. It will look clean and modern.

More adept sewers out there can give you better dimensions, but one and a half times the length of the bed should allow you enough "give" for the fabric to drape nicely when pulled shut. Maybe install curtain loops in the wall at the head of the bed to loop the fabric back in the daytime.

What a fun project! Good luck!
posted by chihiro at 8:10 AM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: When I had to buy a mattress a year ago, I went to a Serta store (Matress Direct, perhaps) I liked every almost mattress in there. I bought a Vera Wang one for $800 or so and have been completely happy with it. (And I have a crappy back and am kind of picky.) The important thing is to go and lie on all of them. Bring your pillow. Also, I totally agree with you - foam is not good if you don't like warmth. I don't care how lovely and squishy it is, why is it so warm??

We got canopy fabric for my daughter's be from IKEA, but you have to take apart the canopy to wash it. My suggestion would be for you to make them yourself - grommets at the top for the holes for she shower curtain rings to go through, (Easy with a hammer and a board) and, if you don't sew, get iron on hem tape for the bottom hem. That way you can pick any material you like. If you get some kind of cotton or muslim, you can measure the length, cut an inch or two, and then tear across the fabric to get them the length you want and completely straight. So much easier than cutting a zillion yards of fabric straight. (Test on a small piece first, but it works! Also, I've had good luck finding cheap sheer fabric on the clearance table at JoAnns.)

And another thing. I made all of my new curtains in my house with the Adorable curtain clips that chihiro recommends - they look great, but if you brush against them (walk past quickly), the curtains go wherever you push them and never stay straight. Since you'll be opening and closing them a lot, maybe you won't mind, but it makes me crazy. Shower curtains don't seem to do that, but maybe it's just because they're so much heaver than sheer curtains?
posted by artychoke at 10:36 AM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: I'm not sure what you mean by "window curtains", but you can definitely get curtain clips to hang your drapery. With clips you can use any sort of fabric you want. For example, I have a home-made curtain made of a folded table-cloth clipped to a curtain rod. Curtain clips look like these. You can get them in more than decent shapes too; mine are little silver flowers.

To determine how much fabric you need, you have to measure your bed. As a general guideline your curtain fabric should be at least 1.5 times as wide as the space it covers.

Knowing that you definitely want a coil mattress should make mattress shopping a bit easier. You can go to mattress stores or big furniture stores (think IKEA) to try out mattresses of different firmness. For me, it's pretty easy to tell whether I like a mattress by just sitting on it for a few seconds. You can definitely get a good mattress set for under $1000 if you look around.

As for pillow-toppers, I have one on my queen-sized bed and I do have to wrestle with the fitted sheet a bit to get it on. And it comes off (on one corner) frequently. It's not a big thing though.

Make sure you get a mattress pad to protect your new mattress from spills, stains, sweat and bodily oils. Good luck!
posted by Xianny at 10:46 AM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: They make drapery specifically for canopy beds- it usually ties on, so it doesn't make noise when you move the curtains, and so if you have a canopy over the curtains, you can still get them off. Googling canopy bed curtains or bed drapes gets this sheer set.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:58 AM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: I have a canopy bed, so I'll concentrate on the canopy aspect.

Canopy bedframes, "as is", are generally either poorly suited to having drapes, or poorly suited to having a canopy. Eg. if they have just a square of beams around the perimeter at the top of the posts, then you can put drapes on easily, but a canopy will sag in the middle, and rest on the drapes, hampering their draw. If the frame supports a canopy via extra beams across the roof, then the side beams that those are attached too are no-longer an uninterrupted rail like a curtain rod.

So ideally, you want to do some DIY.

I decided on two layers of drapes on mine - an interior gauzy set of drapes to let the light in, slinky to allow besheets and drapes to slide past each other instead of tangling. And an exterior velvet set of drapes, for when I wanted to completely block out direct sunlight and sleep in the day.

An important consideration of bed drapes is that unlike curtains, you or someone else WILL catch/fall on/run into/yank the drapes at some point, likely even semi-regularly, which is going to either rip the drapes or break the frame. (I'm going to call these kinds of occurances "accidents". They pose no harm to you, but can damage the drapes or bed).

I choose "break the frame" over "rip the drapes", and so selected curtain rails in a matching wood which were installed with attachments that held together with friction, and so would come apart without breaking and fall off the frame if the drapes were yanked too hard. Then it's a simple case of picking up the rail and putting it back on (basically like it were held on with giant snaps). The rails and attachments are also cheap enough that I have plenty of spares and would not be put out if they did break. So even in the worst case scenario, the cheap, replaceable rails will break instead of the expensive, non-replaceable bedframe.

I use a different method for the internal layer of drapes. Because they terminate up inside the canopy, the slight sag of a non-solid rail can't be seen, so I have a single cord running around the inside of the perimeter, acting as a curtain rail. Because it is not tied or fixed at any of the corners, if the inner drapes are pulled, the cord has it's entire length from which to draw otherwise limited elasticity, which gives sufficient give that the drapes have survived every accident to date.

Obtaining drapes: No question, just buy curtain drapes. You benefit from immense variety available everywhere, at super low cost due to being able to take advantage of economy of scale, and can get matching accessories if you desire, and in many cases suppliers will continue to sell replacement items for years to come. (But be sure to buy spares of everything at the time though, just in case)
The problem with using off-the-shelf drapes is that the bedframe height does not match standard drape height - you will have to shorten them (probably by about 10-20cm). If you don't have a sewing machine, you could just use safety pins along the bottom to pin up the bottom on the inside.

Important: The drapes must be short enough that they either do not touch the floor, or only just brush it. If the bottoms of the drapes are on the floor, you will stand on them. If you stand on them, they are fixed in place at both the top and the bottom, and you will increase the incidence of "accidents" tenfold! Even the natural action of rolling your foot as you walk becomes a potential accident if you walk beside the bed and the drapes are not above the floor.

If you do damage a drape, don't throw it out - it can still be used as a source of matching fabric for upholstering any furniture that supposed to match the bed, matching ties, (or perhaps for upholstering parts of the bedframe itself).

Lastly, mattress height - up to you, but on a purely aesthetic level, I think the proportions of a canopy bed look best if the top of the mattress is higher than for a regular bed. So even if it has a high base, I think a thick mattress is still a good idea.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:09 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Shower curtains don't seem to do that, but maybe it's just because they're so much heaver than sheer curtains?

You can always add curtain weights to the bottom of the curtains so they hang better. If it's sheer they may show through though.
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:31 PM on March 26, 2009

Response by poster: thanks... all of that was useful, and right now i'm thinking about the curtain loops + fabric idea .
posted by hellogoodbye at 5:22 AM on March 27, 2009

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