To trace the origin of the switch in popularity from one item to another , you need look no further than the price the new item was offered at. Dollars and cents always seems to be at the inception of a changing of the guard…….
For the longest time wooden beds held the spotlight in most peoples bedrooms. So why all of a sudden did iron beds take over in popularity? There were actually a number of reasons……
First : Price……The steel mills of Pittsburgh and Chicago were able to make iron ore and steel tubing in such an efficient manner as to bring the cost down on the raw materials that were required to manufacture beds. Wood had a constant cost in materials yet it took longer to carve and cut and glue wood into bed frames that it did to have a bed and it’s castings poured in a small independently owned foundry. The foundries simply undercut the price of wooden beds, to make them more popular than what the public had grown accustom to.
Second : Style……There was a certain limitation to the designs and styles that wooden beds were offered in. Their primary distinction came with their carvings. But with metal tube beds…..the styling was literally limitless. This also enabled the consumer to branch off of the ordinary Victorian style of decor and go more toward the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Edwardian, Craftsman, or any number of other popular design themes. To be able to curve tubing and pour unlimited, detailed, unique castings, set metal beds apart from the more conservative staid designs that wood had been offering.
Third: Light and Airy…..Wooden bed frames were always a big visual statement that took up a lot of “air” and space. The blocked the light from windows and made rooms that were not necessarily very big, look even smaller. Metal beds, because of their open tubing, allowed light and vision to pace through. They made small rooms look larger and if a bed needed to be positioned in from of a window…… vision throw the window was not obscured and the light from the window was not block.
Fourth: Color……Wooden beds were traditionally finished in a natural finish. Rarely if ever were they painted. That came much later in the early 1900’s when people with wooden beds wanted a change and started painting their beds white. Iron frames offered the public a broad spectrum of colors, enabling them to blend their bed with the rest of their chosen color scheme. Often the bed brought the only color there was into the bedroom. It often set the theme of the bedroom with it’s specific coloration and paint. Different colors, “livened up” otherwise dull lifeless settings.