Benjamin Franklin once said “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise;” the bedroom is a place of sanctuary, somewhere to relax after a long, stressful day and one’s bed is essential in the pursuit of a restful sleep. A unique, stylish antique bed full of character with echoes of the past is the perfect addition to your home.
Robert Hartley from Antique Furniture Direct has a great deal of experience and knowledge concerning antique furniture, below he offers his top five tips to purchasing an antique bed.
The first thing to check is how the bed fits together, the rails and the fittings can tell you a lot about the origin and age of a bed, that is, when they are original to the bed. Generally, L-shaped rails that screw into T-shaped hitches indicate circa 1900 onwards. A manufacturer called ‘Vono’ often made antique beds in this style. Generally speaking, L-shaped rails which drop into C-shaped hitches indicate 19th century or a little after. Antique beds with wooden side rails with bolts generally indicate European in origin.
2. Check Sizes
Check the size of the space where the mattress will fit. There are lots of non-standard size beds, which need special mattress sizes. You will need to factor in an extra cost for your mattress if you opt for a non-standard size bed. A standard single bed is 3ft by 6ft3 and a standard double 4ft6 by 6ft3.
As with any antique, condition is important. Ideally you want a bed with a good finish, one that has a good original patina to the wood or one that has been refinished to a good standard. Also the bed needs to be solid and sturdy.
Often beds get cut down - look for signs of this above the feet, you will find filled in screw holes where the hitches have been moved up and the legs sawn down. Or the rails may be very low to the floor. This may actually make the bed more practical in terms of size, but obviously affects its value. This can be a good negotiating tool.
5. Rarity & Quality
Look for good woods, with inlay or carving, check for makers names, identify the age of the bed. Does the bed have any provenance? As with any antique, these can be important factors in price.
Interior Designers Advice
Our interior designer believes the bedroom is one of the most important rooms in the house, a good bed is essential to the space, below she has put together her top tips to consider when on the search for an antique bed.
A bedroom is a personal retreat so the interior should appear effortless but also reflect ones personality and character. Before choosing a bed, ask yourself what it is you are looking for? What type of personality do you want your bedroom to convey? Do you want a bed full of character or something more simplistic? If you want simplicity an Arts and Crafts or elegant brass bed would work well.
The bedroom should be a place of comfort and solace, somewhere to relax, with a soothing atmosphere, a large sumptuous bed, as the main feature is perfect for just this. Keep other furniture minimal if possible and make the place where you lay your head central to your focus. The less distractions in your room the easier it will be to relax at the end of the day; an antique four-posted bed would be the ideal choice.
For an element of romance and charm, a 17th Century four-posted bed, such as a French Rococo carved double bed with scroll features would fit perfectly, amongst a soft interior. It would add to the room’s whimsical feel. It is important to note that these beds can reach astronomical prices, although this should be viewed as a lifetime investment.
Check the size of the bed before you buy and measure the space you wish to fill in order to avoid any problems when the bed is delivered. In order to determine whether your antique bed is handcrafted look at the joinery of the bed, machine cut beds would not have been produced prior to 1860.
Collectors can be quite specific; they may focus on one era or a certain style. Condition, rarity and the history of the bed all contribute to their value. A bed that is unique will normally be of more value than one that was mass-produced. Four-posted beds from the 17th Century can reach into the thousands, and it is often four-posted beds that are of the highest value.
The world’s resources are not unlimited and as climate change becomes a pressing issue there are a variety of ways we can limit our environmental impact, by investing in antique furniture, such as antique beds, it means that there is no need to use any of the planets vital resources in the creation of new furniture. Reusing and recycling antique beds means these beautiful pieces of furniture are still admired for their craftsmanship for many years to come.
If your antique bed is wood it is important to protect the patina as much as possible, the easiest manner in which to do this is by applying a wax finish. If you are applying wax, ensure the surface of the wood is clean, you can do this by cleaning it with a cloth, by dipping it in water, which you add a very small amount of vinegar to helps remove stubborn dirt and grease. Be careful as not to apply too much wax, as it will be difficult to buff at a later stage. If you have an antique brass bed try to clean it with a non-abrasive cloth to avoid scratches, the old method of cleaning it with salt and half a lemon will polish it up nicely. If your antique bed is damaged and needs any restoration it is always best to contact a professional so you do not damage the bed any further or affect its value.
A bed can be heavy and difficult to transport, it will more than likely need a van to transport it due to its size. It is always advisable to use a reputable courier when transporting any items of value and insure your bed before collection and delivery, so in the unfortunate event any damage occurs you are entitled to compensation.
Image Credits: All Images used are LoveAntiques Stock