What is a divan bed?​

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A divan bed consists of a mattress and a bed base. The base is referred to as the divan, which is made from a wooden frame covered in material. The mattress sits on the top of the base, elevating its overall height making it easier to get in and out of bed.

A divan bed consists of a mattress and a bed base. The base is referred to as the divan, which is made from a wooden frame covered in material. The mattress sits on the top of the base, elevating its overall height making it easier to get in and out of bed.

Divan beds are available in a wide range of UK sizes, including 3’0” single, 4’6” double, 5’0” king size and 6’0” super king size. Some manufacturers even offer bespoke sizes. Divan beds take up less space than a bed frame and are ideal for smaller spaces as the base is usually only as wide as the mattress.

divan bed in a traditional bedroom setting

The bed base provides an even sleeping surface for the mattress. It is typically constructed with either a solid platform top usually made from hardboard, or an interior spring unit that provides extra cushioning and support. It is generally recommended to buy the mattress with its matching bed base as the two are designed to work together to improve comfort.

Pairing a mattress with a different bed base will affect how it feels. It is also important to check that the two are compatible. For instance, some memory foam mattresses perform better on sturdy platform top bases rather than sprung bases. Likewise, a cheaper divan bed base may not support a heavier mattress. Furthermore, the mattress should always sit on top of a well-ventilated bed base to allow body moisture to escape the bed.

There are several different types of divan.

Platform top

A platform top is usually made with hardboard and doesn’t contain any springs in the base. Platform top divans will provide a slightly firmer feel to the bed.

Sprung edge divan

Sprung edge divans have a layer of springs mounted to the bed base to cushion the mattress. The base usually consists of either an open coil or pocket spring unit, where the cushioning can help prolong the life of the mattress.

Pairing a mattress with a sprung edge divan can enhance the level of comfort and support by up to 40%.

Sprung edge divans will slightly soften the feel of the mattress.

Firm edge divan

Sprung edge bases can sometimes give you the feeling that you’re about to roll out of bed if you sleep near the edge.

A firm edge divan reinforces the framework around the bed, providing edge to edge support. This gives you the confidence to sleep near the edge of the bed without fear of rolling out. Firm edge also makes it easier to get in and out of bed.

Bedstead bases

A bedstead base is a shallow divan that sits inside a bed frame. It provides even support across the entire mattress and protection from the frames slats, grids or wires.

Bedstead bases are ideal for antique and vintage bed frames. Whilst these frames offer plenty of charm and elegance, they may not provide suitable mattress support. By simply pairing your mattress with a bedstead base, you enjoy all the benefits a divan provides without having to replace your bed frame and matching furniture.

A bedstead base raises the overall bed height to make it easier to get in and out of bed. It also provides an even surface, preventing the mattress from sagging between the slats.

Bedstead bases are available with a sprung edge base or solid top base. But bear in mind that the sprung edge version will be deeper to accommodate the spring unit.

Shallow divan on legs

Traditionally, a bed on legs was a popular choice for older adults, as it was easier to clean underneath the bed.

Nowadays, shallow divans are growing in popularity for those wanting to create a bedstead look in a smaller space. A shallow divan on legs can open the space by exposing the floor underneath, making a small room look bigger.

A shallow divan is usually available with a choice of legs and finishes to suit your décor.

Are divan beds old fashioned?

Divan beds were once considered old fashioned, where a valance would often cover up the hideous base material. Nowadays, divans can be personalised with a wide range of finishing touches to enhance the look of any bedroom.

Most divans are available in a wide range of fabrics and leathers, so there’s no need to cover the base with a valance. Many also come with a choice of headboards and bed accessories in matching colours to fit seamlessly into any room décor.

Headboards create a stunning focal point in any bedroom and provide additional comfort if you sit up in bed. They are usually priced separately from the divan bed, so you need to allow this in your budget.

divan bed with matching headboard dark brown

Will any headboard fit a divan bed?

Divan beds are usually supplied with a pair of bolts so you can easily attach a headboard. Most headboards come with wooden struts, where the fixing points are usually spaced at a standard width.

Headboard sizes should correspond with the bed size they are intended for. For example, a 4’6” double headboard should fit a 4’6” double bed. As a precaution, it is always best to measure between the screw holes before buying.

To secure the headboard, screw the bolts through the headboard struts into the pre-drilled holes in the back of the base. Then, adjust the headboard to your desired height.

Some floor standing headboards may come with different fittings. If you’re buying a headboard separately, it is always best to check what fittings the headboard comes with to ensure your headboard will fit.

Storage options

Divan beds come with a range of storage options that provide extra space for your bedding, blankets and towels and help keep your room clutter-free and organised.

Divans are available with drawers underneath or an ottoman design with lift-up storage from the end or the side. Having drawers in the bed does not affect the comfort or quality of the bed.

beige upholstered divan base with continental drawers
Divan base with continental drawers

2+2 continental

The 2 + 2 drawer option comes with two standard drawers, one on each side at the bottom of the bed and two half-size drawers, one on each side at the top of the bed.

This drawer combination provides easier access to the top drawers as they should open and close without the bedside cabinets interfering.

divan with 2 + 2 drawers
Divan bed with 2 + 2 drawer combination

Four drawers

With the four drawer option, there are four equal size standard drawers, two on each side of the bed.

divan with 4 standard drawers
Divan bed with 4 standard drawers


Ottoman beds offer generous under bed storage and are ideal for smaller bedrooms or homes where space is limited.

The base lifts from either the end or the side with an ottoman bed, giving you the space beneath the mattress for storage.

Some ottoman bases provide one large storage compartment, while others divide the storage space between two separate compartments.

Easy assembly

Apart from single sizes, divan bases are split into two sections to allow easier access to the room. They are easy to put together and should take no longer than twenty minutes to assemble.

Stand both halves of the divans on their side. Fit the casters or screw in the feet to the pre-drilled holes. Then, join the bases together with the fittings provided.

Can you put a new mattress on an old divan base?

The mattress and the base are designed to complement each other, so they should be purchased together. Putting a new mattress on an old bed base may shorten the life of the mattress, impede comfort and may invalidate the manufacturers’ guarantee.

Final thoughts

A mattress is only as good as the foundation it rests on. Divan beds are stylish, versatile and can improve the overall comfort and support of the bed. They are a popular choice with many households as they generally take up less room than other types of beds.

About the author

About the author

Tony Brown is the founder and creator of The Bed Consultant. His career in the bed industry began in 2002. After graduating from university with a degree in Business Administration, Tony joined one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the UK as a bed consultant. Tony has helped thousands of customers find the perfect mattress.

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