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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.

What is a divan?

A divan, also known as a box spring, is a type of bed base that supports the mattress. It is made from a timber frame covered in material and provides the underlying support for the mattress. The mattress rests on the divan, raising it to a comfortable height for getting in and out of bed.

Traditional divan bed with drawers
Traditional divan bed with drawers

The divan provides an even sleeping surface and is typically constructed with either a solid platform top, usually made from hardboard or an interior spring unit that provides extra cushioning and support. Most divans come with castors or wheels, making them easier to move around.

Many mattresses are sold with a matching divan base. Divan beds are typically available in the following UK bed sizes.

 Imperial sizeMetric size
Small single2’6” x 6’3”75 cm x 190 cm
Single3’0” x 6’3”90 cm x 190 cm
Small double4’0” x 6’3”120 cm x 190 cm
Double4’6” x 6’3”135 cm x 190 cm
King size5’0” x 6’6”150 cm x 200 cm
Super king size6’0” x 6’6”180 cm x 200 cm

Some manufacturers even offer bespoke sizes, for example, an extra-long bed for a taller person. Divan beds take up less space than a bed frame as the mattress is usually the same size as the base, making them ideal for smaller bedrooms. 

Different types of divans

There are several different types of divan.

Platform top

A platform top has a solid, flat surface typically made from hardboard. There are no springs in the base, resulting in a firmer bed feel. Cheaper beds often come with platform tops because they are usually inexpensive to manufacture.

However, not all platform tops are of low quality. Some memory foam and latex brands manufacture higher-quality platform top divans specifically designed to support their mattresses.

Sprung edge divan

Sprung edge divans feature an open coil or pocket spring unit mounted to the top of the frame that cushions the mattress and improves the bed’s overall comfort. A sprung divan can also help prolong the life of the mattress by absorbing some of the impact from the sleeper’s weight. Sprung divans slightly soften the overall feel of the bed.

However, not all mattresses work well with sprung bases. For instance, memory foam and latex mattresses typically perform better on slats or solid top bases. 

Firm edge divan

Some sprung divans may feel unstable near the edge of the bed, which can make you feel like you’re falling out of bed. This may cause some sleepers to gravitate towards the middle of the bed, reducing the usable sleeping area.

A firm edge divan reinforces the framework around the bed, providing improved edge support. It can also make it easier to get in and out of bed comfortably by reducing sagging.

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, making 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 keep in mind that sprung edge models will be deeper to accommodate the spring unit.

Shallow divan on legs

A shallow divan on legs is the perfect compromise for those looking for a bedstead appearance with the support of a divan. They feature a shallow divan base, typically between six and eight inches deep with legs attached to elevate the bed off the floor. Some models come with a choice of legs (sometimes fitted with castors) and finishes to suit your décor.

Its elevated design makes cleaning and maintaining the area underneath the bed easier. Shallow divans work well in smaller bedrooms by creating an open and spacious appearance.

Adjustable divan beds

An adjustable divan bed can be adjusted to various sleeping positions and is ideal for those who enjoy reading or watching TV in bed. They are also well-suited to older adults or those with mobility issues who struggle to get in and out of bed comfortably.

Adjustable beds are more expensive than regular divans because of their mechanism and advanced features.

Are divan beds old-fashioned?

In the past, divan beds were typically upholstered in unsightly materials and often needed to be hidden by a valance sheet. Nowadays, divans are available in a wide range of beautiful materials, so they don’t need to be covered up. Many divans come with a choice of headboards and bed accessories in matching colours to fit seamlessly into any room décor.

These headboards create a stunning focal point in any bedroom and provide additional comfort when sitting up in bed. Headboards are usually priced separately from the divan bed, so you need to factor this into your budget if you opt for one.

divan bed with matching headboard dark brown

Divan 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 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 drawer option

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 two continental drawers and two standard drawers
Divan with two continental drawers and two standard drawers

Four drawer option

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

Divan with four standard drawers
Divan with four standard drawers 

Foot end drawers

Some divan beds come with an end drawer, ideal for those with extra space at the foot of the bed. These foot end drawers are typically available for 4’6” (135 cm) and 5’0” (150 cm) divans. The end drawer is slightly larger than a standard drawer, but its depth only allows for two side drawers – one on each side at the top of the bed.

Divan bed with end drawer and two continental side drawers
Divan bed with end drawer and two continental side drawers
Divan bed with foot end drawer and two standard side drawers
Divan bed with foot end drawer and two standard drawers

Ottoman divan bed

Ottoman beds offer generous under bed storage and are ideal for smaller bedrooms or homes with limited space. The base lifts either from the end or side, revealing storage space beneath the mattress.

Some ottoman bases have one large storage compartment, while others divide the storage space into separate compartments.

Will any headboard fit a divan bed?

Divan beds are usually supplied with bolts, so you can 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 it comes with to ensure it will attach to the bed.

Are divan beds easy to assemble?

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 at most 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. Stylish and versatile, divan beds can improve the bed’s overall comfort and support. They are a popular choice with many households as they generally take up less room than other 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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