Over my years in New York, I have lived in a rotation of tiny rooms and corresponding bed frames (or no bed frames!). The first time I moved here, I slept on a fold-out cot in an itty-bitty room in Queens, 15 minutes away from JFK. (I recently went back to my old stomping grounds and realized my room was truly the size of a large closet.) On my second move, I slept on a metal hand-me-down bed frame in a sewing room in Harlem. Then there was my third move, when I slept on a twin-sized mattress on the floor in a windowless office room in Brooklyn. Most recently, I had been sleeping on a secondhand Ikea bed frame that I moved from a former roommate’s room into my own.
My friends and colleagues were horrified when they heard about my sleeping situations over the years. For them, it gave off a perpetual uni vibe. But I always envisioned myself moving eventually, so why would I invest in something that isn’t easy to toss or transport? This sort of flighty ethos has dictated how I’ve lived for years. I always describe my decor as something you’d find in the furniture section of a sad flea market or charity shop. Aesthetically, there is no rhyme or reason in my apartment.
So when my secondhand Ikea bed frame was falling apart, I went with a metal bed frame under $100 from Amazon. It was never the most attractive piece of furniture. To make matters worse, I bought risers to lift the frame and create more storage space, cementing my status as a full-grown adult still living that dorm life – much to the dismay of my friends. They said I needed to get rid of it and start over. And now that I was spending more time in my house amid the spread of yet another Covid variant, I finally agreed.
I started looking. For a while, I thought I should opt for a bed on the floor again. I’ve seen it in multiple New York-based films from the late ’90s and early ’00s, like Kissing Jessica Stein, in which the cool-girl character Helen Cooper lives in some fantastic, open space studio and sleeps on her floor mattress with leopard-print sheets. There’s also a great opening scene in A Perfect Murder in which Gwyneth Paltrow and Vigo Mortensen’s characters are having a hot and steamy moment of infidelity on a mattress that is on the ground.
But while those options looked stylish in theory, I wasn’t sure if they would work in my own space. I spoke to Lula Galeano, an architect and interior designer who was responsible for giving Susan Alexandra’s downtown store a Candyland-tiled makeover. She acted as my bed frame therapist, answering my endless questions and sifting through options with me. “We all have the same image of what living in New York ‘should be like’. A giant loft with vaulted ceilings and massive windows, and sure, in this apartment anything is chic. Even a mattress on the ground. But for everyone who lives in a ‘real’ New York apartment, a mattress on the ground only creates chaos. It moves, it makes the already small bedroom look unfinished, the duvet covering one-third of the floor,” she says. “You don’t think it, but it makes the room smaller.” Aha, yes, I was brought back to earth. My room was not a huge open loft, but rather a tiny space with stunted ceilings. No bed on the ground for hey!
Galeano recommended getting a bed frame with neutral colors that was low to the ground. According to her, it would give a trompe l’oeil effect of opening the space and make my minuscule room appear larger. “A minimal style is best to avoid clutter,” she says. I started considering brands that I had seen buzzing around the internet: A Nera bed from Article, which featured a very pared-back look with a large headboard and sleek steel legs; then there was the Floyd, which was bombarding my Instagram with ads of its modern tilted headboard. I liked a headboard-less one from Wayfair, but Galeano insisted I needed a headboard. “A headboard can also help anchor the bed within the room,” she explained. When I accepted that, these options seemed equally great, but I shuddered at the thought of putting them together. In another Peter Pan moment, I needed something that a preschooler could handle. That’s when I came across Thuma and its The Bed, which requires no tools to assemble given its Japanese craftsmen design. You slide XYZ piece of wood into a leg, roll out some slats, and voila, there’s your clean and curated bed frame. After the bed arrived and I manoeuvred it up the stairs, I put it together in less than an hour.
It’s safe to say I’m a quality bed frame convert. The light wood makes my room look brighter and more open. And while my mattress is not new or luxurious in any way, I sleep better in this bed, perhaps due to the slats (which I later learned were padded). A good night’s rest never looked so good.