The first is that the true traditional iron beds of that period didn’t have dust ruffles. The reasoning behind that theory was that a dust ruffle would have negated one of the main reasons for the elevated stature of these beds……and that was rodents….yep! Mice and rats were a real problem back in the 1800’s and the last place people wanted to have to deal with them was in their beds. So beds of this nature enabled people to get themselves farther away from those pesky critters and made it harder for them to climb into bed.
Dust ruffles, on the other hand completely negated the positive angle of the iron bed being higher in the air with nothing other than four long slippery poles for mice to crawl up. You notice I mentioned slippery. I was once told by an old antique “picker” back in the hill country of Pennsylvania, that he remembered his grandparents taking axle grease that they used on the farms tractor, and wiping it on the four legs of the bed, so mice and rats couldn’t get a firm grip and climb the poles. Living on a farm I guess enhanced the possibility of rodents , more so that living in the city or a heavily populated residential area. Many of the vintage tin type photo’s of the 1800’s show bed without dust ruffles.
Yet in numerous other photo’s from the same period, I’ve seen dust ruffles used quite a bit. The different schools of thought seem to come from two different socio-economic levels. It seems as though the abundance of dust ruffles I’ve seen in those old photo’s , are on beds in very affluent homes. Homes that there wasn’t as much of a concern for rodents as that in rural homes and homes that didn’t offer the construction or upkeep of the larger pricier ones.
Most of the the fancy/expensive interiors I’ve seen in photo’s from the 1800’s, all have frilly dust ruffles to blend with the bedding and pillows. It also seemed that all canopy beds of that period , not only had lots of draped curtains , but also dust ruffles to match.
Todays concerns for the use of dust ruffles is no longer an issue. To “use” or “not” to use, is more an issue of taste and look. If a person is going for a more “spartan” clean look……possibly Craftsman or Deco, they may choose to not use a dust ruffle and instead cover their box spring with either a fitted sheet or some upholstered permenant cover.
Those people looking for a more romatic Victorian or Country French look, usually opt for the ruffled dust ruffle. It’s a fancier more elaborate look. Yet it can be pleated instead of ruffled and in doing so be more appropriate for a mans room or a young boy.
The setting and look you want to acheive will determine whether you use a dust ruffle or not. A great look can be gotten either way.
I hope you’ve found this blog informative . I invite you to revisit my website
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