A steel bed frame is a sturdy, long-term investment that supports your mattress and box spring. Still, if it doesn't match your current decor, there are ways to soften and hide a metal bed frame and its industrial or old-fashioned appearance. Add a fabric slipcover or bed skirts. You can also paint the frame and add a canopy to emulate the minimalist sheer curtains of a seaside bungalow or use velvet drapes fit for a king or queen.
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Hide a Metal Bed Frame
Depending on the age and style of the bed frame, you may want to avoid making a permanent change to its appearance. A basic metal base that lacks a headboard and footboard may only need an appropriately sized comforter layered over a king size bedspread to hide the sides and legs. Use insulating pipe covers, foam protectors or foam edge guards over the vertical sides of the bed rails to cushion the sharp metal edges.
If the legs peek out from beneath the bedspread, add bed boots, which are designed to hide the metal legs and wheels. Bed boots also raise the frame, giving the bed the luxurious sense of a fine hotel. Attach a faux wood or upholstered headboard to the wall and layer matching pillows to give the bed a finished look.
Conceal the Headboard and Footboard
Whether a rectangular framework or beautifully curved headboard and footboard, if it doesn't suit your current decorating scheme or if you have rambunctious children, consider covering them with padding and fabric. Use brown wrapping paper to trace the outline of the metal frame and add the depth of the headboard plus 2 inches. Wrap the frame in several layers of quilt batting and secure with tape.
Use the pattern to make a slipcover that slides over the top of the headboard and batting to hide the metal frame. If desired, add "tufting" with an upholstery needle, heavy-duty thread and large buttons. Repeat the process with the footboard.
If you need a sturdier cover over the metal frame, cut 1/2-inch plywood to size with a jigsaw. If tufting is desired, mark the pattern on the back side of the plywood and drill 1/8- to 1/4-inch holes through the wood. Use brackets to attach the plywood to the headboard before wrapping it in batting and fabric and then use a staple gun to attach the layers to the plywood. Insert an upholstery needle through each hole in the plywood and attach a large button to the fabric, pulling it tight to emphasize the design and loft of the batting.
Add a Bed Skirt
Bed skirts range from commercially made base covers that are inserted between the mattress and box springs to creative repurposing of valances. The traditional bed skirt requires removing and replacing the mattress. The skirt hangs over the sides of the box spring and metal bed frame. Cushioning can be added to the bed rails to prevent scratches and bruises if you bump the hidden metal frame when getting in and out of bed.
Wraparound bed skirts are elasticized and can be stretched around the box spring to hide it and the metal bed frame legs and rails. Alternatively, use stick-on hook and loop fasteners and attach solid or lace window valances to the sides of the box spring to cover it and the bed frame. A solid bed skirt hides boxes and other items stored under the bed, while a lacy valance gives an airy appearance, and when it is matched with the window coverings, it helps coordinate the room décor.
Consider a Canopy
To conceal the entire bed frame, including the headboard and footboard, paint it to match your canopy curtains. Add ceiling curtain tracks above the bed and hang sheers, blackout curtains or velvet drapes to hide the metal frame. Add matching bed skirts and/or an oversized velvet bedspread that drapes to the floor to hide the metal bed frame legs.