Back in the 1800’s, iron beds were design to elevate the mattress off the ground to get away from cold drafts and also to eliminate rodents and termites that permeated wooden bed frames.
As the Industrial Revolution brought to a close the craftsmanship of handmade items like metal beds, it started designing newer items to replace all those outdated household items.
As man got his battle with rodents under control and designed homes that didn’t have drafts on the floor he felt lowering the metal frames that held
mattresses was a natural progression.
The rail system on metal beds, the held mattresses back in the 1800’s was generally about 13″ off the ground. The modern Harvard or Hollywood metal frame, which they’re known as, are approx 5″ to 6″ off the ground…….a considerable difference.
Back in the 1800’s the feather mattress and spring unit were maybe 8 to 10″ total. Today’s box springs are that thick. Our modern pillow top mattresses can reach 15″ to 20″ in thickness.
So what’s the best way to accommodate a modern mattress on a tall antique bed? The easiest and by far the best is to eliminate the use of today’s “worthless” box springs. I say worthless because they were developed to elevate the mattress up to a comfortable level. They have no orthopedic value at all. In fact they are the worst thing you can put a mattress on. Reason being, at not time can the springs in your mattress and the springs in your box spring be aligned perfectly. And when they aren’t, the springs start bending irregularly and creating “divots” in your mattress. That’s why mattress companies want you to constantly be flipping and turning your mattress.
So how can you overcome these inherit problems with a box spring? Get rid of it and replace it with a hard foundation. Most mattress companies have low profile hard foundations or what we call “bunkie boards”. That way the mattress will maintain it’s orthopedic comfort and support.
The “bunkie board” is only 2″ thick and on a antique metal bed frame effectively lowers the mattress by 6 to 8″. A much more manageable height. With a “bunkie board” antique iron beds can be used and with modern mattresses and still be appreciated.