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Bed Buying Guide – Where To Start

Finding yourself confused when it comes to choosing a bed suited to you? Rest assured, here’s our bed buying guide to choosing the best for your bedroom.

bed buying guide

The Essential Questions

Think about the purpose

Is comfort your primary consideration? Is style important? Do you need storage space? These things help determine your ideal bed.

Set your budget

Prices can really vary between bedsteads, divans and other bed types, so setting your budget can be a useful way of focusing your choices.

What are divan beds?

divan bed storage

The two main types of beds are divans and bedsteads. The most important difference between them is that a divan nearly always comes with a mattress. With a bedstead, you’re just buying a frame.

A divan is essentially a base with a mattress on top. The mattress is usually flush with the base and there’s no headboard or footboard, but you can buy a headboard separately and attach it (and most of our divans come with a range of headboard choices).

There are also two main types of divan base. The first is a platform top base, which is a hard top offering a firmer feel and is generally the cheapest base option. The second is a sprung edge base, which incorporates a layer of pocket springs for a softer, more sumptuous feel and extra comfort. However, there a lot of ‘give’ around the edges of a sprung base, which can sometimes make you feel as if you’re going to roll out of bed.

Harrison offers a True Edge Base to remedy this problem. These boast a reinforced edge that encases the pocket springs and eliminates the ‘give’ in conventional sprung bases. This allows you full use of the mattress without fear of rolling off.

Pros and cons of divan beds


  • Divans are the most widely available type of bed.
  • Divans tend to be cheaper than other beds.
  • Divan beds are often considered more comfortable because of the added softness of a sprung edge base (although comfort largely depends on your choice of mattress).
  • Divans usually come with storage options, i.e. drawers, open cavity spaces or ottoman-style storage, whereby the mattress lifts up to reveal an expansive storage area, perfect for duvets, linens, suitcases and other bulky items.
  • Divans are generally more customisable, i.e. you get a choice of headboards, base fabrics and storage options.


  • Divans tend to be less ornate and stylish than bedsteads.
  • Divan beds are not always the cheaper option; it depends on what headboard, base design, mattress and storage options you go for.

What is a bedstead?


Bedsteads or bed frames are typically made of wood or metal and consist of a headboard, legs and a slatted framework to support the mattress. Most but not all have footboards.

Bedsteads are generally considered the more decorative option and tend to come with a choice of colours, finishes and styles. Some bedsteads are fully upholstered and a few come with ottoman-style storage. Some more contemporary models boast extra mod-cons and aesthetic features such as USB ports and under-bed lighting.

Pros and cons of bedsteads


  • Bedsteads are a highly attractive centrepiece for your bedroom and generally more ornate and striking than divan beds. Our designs range from traditional solid wood beds to upholstered beds with plush deep buttoning to contemporary beds with sleek proportions.
  • There is no need to buy a separate headboard.
  • Most bedsteads come in numerous colours and finishes, and upholstered bedsteads are available in a wide range of opulent leathers and fabrics.
  • Most bedsteads give a better feeling of space than a divan, making your bedroom feel larger and more airy because of the wide-open area beneath the frame.
  • Some bedsteads come with adjustable slats, allowing you to create a firmer or more flexible feel.
  • Some bedsteads have storage options.


  • Bedsteads are generally more expensive than divans, particularly as you have to buy the mattress separately.
  • Unlike divans, bedsteads don’t usually come with storage facilities, and an accumulation of items under the bed can look messy.

Other types of beds


We also sell a range of adjustable beds with electric lift and recline functions, and some boast in-built massage units for soothing aches and pains. They come in a range of fabrics and some have storage options. They’re generally more expensive than standard beds, but the mattress and headboard are normally included in the price.

You’ll also find a number of guest beds and children’s beds in our bedroom collection. Guest beds are two-in-one bedsteads with an extra bed encased in the frame. Our kids’ mid sleeper beds are multifunction, mid-height beds with storage drawers, cupboards, shelves, a desk and/or a ready-made den beneath the sleeping platform.

How to get further help and advice

Most of our divans and bedsteads can be found in our Ash Vale showroom near Guildford, Surrey, but some of our more contemporary beds are on display in Farnham. Most can be viewed on our website, where you’ll find detail on sizes, styles, finishes and fabrics. If you’ve chosen a divan, you might want to browse our collection of headboards, and if you’re settled on a bedstead, take a look at our mattresses. If you have any questions not covered in this bed buying guide, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01252 325525.

If you’re not sure what type of bed would complement your bedroom, you might find an at-home consultation with a member of our Farnham-based interior design team useful. And if you’d like further information on the sleeping comfort offered by divans, bedsteads, sprung edge bases or adjustable beds, our sales advisers at Ash Vale will be happy to assist you.

Your bed buying checklist

  • Is comfort your main concern?
  • Is the style and look of your bed important?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you already have a mattress?
  • Do you require under-bed storage facilities?
  • Do you need an adjustable bed with lift and recline capabilities?
  • Are you looking for a children’s bed or a guest bed?

Come and see for yourself

Vale Furnishers are one of the leading furniture shops in Surrey and Hampshire. Our bedroom department at Ash Vale, near Guildford, is particularly vast and full of sumptuous divans, bedsteads, adjustable beds, kids’ beds and guest beds. You’ll also find some stunning contemporary beds on display at Farnham.

Do you have any questions not covered in this bed buying guide?
Please contact our furniture experts in Surrey and Hampshire on 01252 325525 for more information.


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