Does Your Mattress Need a Box Spring Anymore?

I HAVE A the smallest guest room in the world. This was not a problem during the pandemic. But with the house guests coming back, do you remember them? – I recently realized that I need to transform the 85 square meter space into a comfortable space.

The other day I was standing with my arms crossed. I was actually standing in the door of the room because there wasn’t enough space to stand in the room with my arms crossed. If I put my arms straight by my sides, I could be standing in the room. But that was uncomfortable for deep thinking. And I thought about it: what would make this sad room more inviting?

“Mattresses are much better than they used to be when a box spring was necessary for comfort and support,” said Jelinek.

My gaze, of course, turned to the bed itself, which seemed huge for a full-size double bed. Even massive. And then – Eureka! – I would have hit my forehead if there had been space: The biggest problem was the bloated box spring and mattress set for the princess and the pea.

“My guest bed really, really dominates the room,” I said to LeeAnn Baker, a Seattle interior designer, for advice. “How do I fix this problem?”

“It’s the box spring bed – a lot of beds don’t have them and most bed frames don’t need them these days,” Ms. Baker said, adding that the most comfortable they are, height for a bed is 24 to 26 inches.

“My bed is currently a few inches higher,” I said.

“Everyone lives differently in their houses,” she said diplomatically, “but you want a bed that you can easily get in and out of. You don’t want to feel like you need a stepladder. “

Today, Ms. Baker said, most of her customers prefer a bed with a lower, slimmer profile than the inflated beds of years past. “I think the new look is an overflow from European design,” she said. “It got cool when furniture got low. The sofas have also become very low. “

Of course, design trends come and go. But bed historians (yes, there are) say that the traditional box spring bed, patented in 1869 and evolving into a standard 9-inch wooden frame with steel springs, may never be fashionable again.

In fact, beds have been getting slimmer for centuries, said Prof. Annie Coggan, who teaches at the Pratt Institute of Art and Design in Brooklyn. Centuries ago beds with several lumpy layers of straw, itchy horsehair and suffocating feathers were considered a sign of wealth. “They were big, heavy things that took two or three people every day to turn around and you had to do it every day because they got sweaty from people who slept on them and to keep things made of hay and straw away. “

In one of Seattle designer LeeAnn Baker’s bedrooms, the mattress is carried by the platform of the bed frame – no box spring is required.


Andrew Giammarco

Then came the industrial revolution. With the invention of series metal coil springs in the 19th century, a box spring bed combined with “a light, padded mattress that you can turn over yourself” became standard, said Prof. Coggan.

But not anymore. According to the International Sleep Products Association, manufacturers now produce far more mattresses than box spring beds. Last year, manufacturers across the country delivered almost 43 percent more mattresses (a total of 33.3 million) than support layers (23.3 million). Many retailers don’t even sell traditional box spring beds anymore.

“What made the old-fashioned box spring obsolete?” I asked Russell Jelinek, the senior director of engineering at Casper, a company that sells seven types of mattresses but not box spring beds.

“Mattresses are much better than they used to be when a box spring was necessary for comfort and support,” said Jelinek.

For mattresses, the game changer was memory foam, a material that NASA developed to cushion the seats of astronauts. In the 1990s, mattress manufacturers began experimenting with memory foam, a high-density material that distributes body weight more evenly than steel spring springs. Fast forward to today, when sturdy hybrid mattresses, made of both innerspring and foam, don’t need an additional layer of springs to comfortably support a sleeper’s body, Jelinek said.

Indeed, a box spring can look ridiculous in a modern bed frame. An interior designer friend recently bought new beds for a project. When she tried to install box spring beds and mattresses, they were so big that they covered a large part of the headboard. The box springs had to be returned.

While I was talking to Mr. Jelinek (imagining that prospective houseguests would thank me for the best sleep they ever had), I clicked on the mattress websites to compare features. I discovered mattresses made from environmentally friendly recycled steel coils and purely organic materials. For example, the Avocado Mattress brand sells a model made from a latex layer of tree sap. Birch Living wraps its mattresses in natural wool from New Zealand sheep.

Of course, the new mattress technology isn’t cheap – Casper’s premium Wave Hybrid Snow model with three layers of perforated foam and a thin layer of cooling gel costs $ 2,995 for a full-size mattress – but maybe I could justify the cost with all that money I would save if I didn’t buy a box spring.

But then I noticed something else. In addition to the mattresses, Casper sells a 7.5-inch high foundation with supporting wooden slats ($ 249 for a full-size model), which is described on its website as “excellent support under any Casper mattress.”

“It sounds like a box spring, just with wooden slats instead of steel springs,” I said. “When would you need it?”

“When you have one of those metal bed frames that doesn’t have a platform or slats to support,” Jelinek said.


“I have one of those metal bed frames,” I said.

“Then you need a box-spring-sized foundation,” he said.

I hung up and then shoed into the guest room with a tape measure for another look. I realized that if I bought a 7.5 “foundation and a new mattress, I could lower the bed 4” and move into the 24 “to 26” zone for optimal height.

And my box spring? I will be happy to hand it in at the recycling center.

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