A lofty bed may solve a space problem, satisfy your inner monarch or loom like Everest as a nightly challenge. Some circumstances make a bed that is high off the floor an advantageous choice. But there are reasons to avoid the heights, and even more reasons why you could inadvertently find yourself climbing high above the fray to recline with your nose in uncomfortable proximity to the ceiling. Be savvy about style, mattress sizes, cubic footage, and work-arounds before paying the big bucks for your princess-and-the-pea bedtime experience.
Scaling the Heights
You have a number of choices for high-flying beds, and many of those are practical ones. Bunk beds stack more kids in less space and leave room for all those Legos on the floor. Suspended beds -- platforms with mattresses hung from the ceiling by heavy ropes or chains -- are outrageously romantic and discourage the pitter-patter of little rodent feet in tropical climates. Storage beds float you above your stuff, which is all neatly crammed into drawers and cupboards that form the base of the bed. Antique beds, especially those with iron or wood fourposter frames, rose up tall from the floor to promote better air circulation and to lift the bed out of harm's way during floods. The look of a bed that disdains a low profile can be fabulous enough to compensate for the hassle of accessing it via footstool or stepladder.
You've finally decided to replace the saggy mattress and get a good night's sleep again. But, buyer beware. Mattresses and box springs are super-sized now and they'll tower above your bed frame alarmingly if you haven't measured correctly. A standard frame is about 7 inches high. Platform beds, meant to hold just a mattress, are higher. Antique beds vary in height and many old metal frames are 11 inches or more off the floor. Now add the height of today's average box spring, 9 inches. Then top it off with a deluxe mattress with built-in mattress topper, which can be up to 13 to 20 inches tall. You may need to head for the hardware store and pick up a stepladder, or commandeer your kid's pogo stick. In a high-ceilinged room, you could probably just pole vault into bed. But if your calculations are less than comforting, you can offset the nosebleed factor with better math. Look for a low-profile box spring, made as flat as 4 inches high. Rein in the luxe impulse and find a mattress that feels terrific but isn't as tall as your toddler. Consider a lower bed frame, or cut the legs off a cheap one. Lots of people like to sit on the edge of the bed to put their socks on or chat on the phone. Whether your feet are firmly on the ground or dangling in midair is up to you.
How to Get High
If you're just a hopeless romantic and that iron bedstead that you need to hop up into is your dream crib, you were probably royalty in a former life. Work with it. If the bedroom has 10-foot or higher ceilings you won't even have a visual proportion problem; the towering bed will seem right at home. Start your curtains at the ceiling and drop them to the floor, and indulge in the deepest mattress you can afford. Add a charming step stool to avoid an awkward moment each night as you ascend to your personal cloud. Remember to scale the rest of the furnishings to fit -- a bedside table and reading lamp do you no good trapped far below in the land of the Lilliputians. When the ceiling is an ungenerous 8 or 9 feet overhead, you'll have to find a low-rise box spring and limit the mattress height. Whatever else you do, don't designate that luxurious space under the bed as convenient storage. Energy flows around and under the bed, promoting healthy sleep, according to principles of feng shui. Besides, it looks better to have unobstructed air instead of clutter circulating under your bed.