The wardrobe bed or box-bed originated at the end of the medieval period, in some places they were used until well into the twentieth century, which makes sense since the cold winters of northern Europe and the deficient sources of heat; coming from firewood, they made living conditions very difficult and austere, especially for the less wealthy class of the time. Let’s see what they were like and why they are booming again. What did these beds consist of? In many country houses in Scotland, France, and parts of the Netherlands and the UK, people slept in these beds which were essentially large wooden cabinets with a bed inside and doors or curtains to close while you slept. Some closet beds were freestanding furniture; others were built in holes and attached to the frame of the house. Even sometimes; they had several floors. Inside there were shelves where they kept all kinds of objects; from the urinal to the most valuable objects. But why did they sleep this way? Apart from privacy, the small enclosed space in the bed was extremely heat-absorbing and kept the sleeper warm during winter. It is also possible that the beds offered some degree of protection against intruders, especially wolves and other animals, who may have entered the house. It has been suggested that peasants kept their children in closets while they went to work in the fields. People slept half sitting in a closed wooden cupboard, unlike today that we sleep fully stretched out. On the one hand; space was saved, but it is also thought that they had the superstition that lying down they were calling for death. Can you imagine what it would be like to sleep in summer? Advantages and disadvantages of the box-bed The closet beds were located; often in small spaces against the wall of; for example, a living room or a kitchen, and on farms they could be on top or stables. These were separated from each other by wooden walls, the entrances in the front were closed with doors or curtains. The mixture of smells in these conditions was guaranteed! This way they could be built anywhere on the farm, in the room, the kitchen or the barn, there was no need for a separate bedroom. You have to think that at that time up to 20 people from the same family could live in each house, so comfort was not the priority. And from the looks of it; hygiene either. Although this type of bed in the countryside remained incredibly popular, the big cities became familiar with the bed frame. Throughout the 19th century it became increasingly popular, mainly for its comfort. The mattresses were no longer made of rigid straw and you could sleep fully stretched out. In addition, the bed bugs and the lack of ventilation made it an unhealthy place and led to infections and diseases. Why were they so popular for so long? According to the Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farmhouse and Villa Architecture and Furniture “In some parts of the country the doors of the beds are fixed on the inside with bolts, or have a padlock to hold them on the outside; so that a person who goes to bed, with all her treasure around her on the surrounding shelves, can secure it while sleeping at night, or going out to work during the day, closing the doors.” The box-bed; eventually, it became a piece of furniture in fashion, and even the largest houses with several bedrooms and without an urgent need for privacy began to have them. Many 18th century cabinetmakers designed secret bed boxes disguised as cabinets or dressers, or hidden behind rows of bookcases and drawers. Boxed beds fell into disuse beginning in the 19th century due to growing concerns about hygiene and stale air, but in many parts of Scotland the practice of sleeping in boxed beds continued well into the 20th century. What were the mattresses like? There was a time when mattresses, because of the insects that swarmed inside them and the mold that invaded them, represented a more abominable nightmare than your worst dreams. The straw, leaves, pine needles and reeds, all of which are organically filled, rotted and harbored an impressive number of bed bugs and fleas. Later came mattresses made of wool, feathers or animal hair that kept molds and bacteria away and breathed much better. The bed was a curious place for socializing, very different from what we now know. It was common for members of the same family to sleep together, the lord with his servants or the lady with her maids. A space was made for the guests to spend the night on the common bed, as a proof of deference and distinction with the guest whom they wanted to honor. Why have these types of beds become so fashionable now? Thanks to the advent of modern devices such as electric heaters and radiators, wardrobe beds are no longer a necessity in Northern Europe. But the form persists, and there is one place where it is particularly welcome: in a studio apartment. The heat now isn’t that worrisome (and none of us are really worried about wolves), but it’s still really nice to have a little privacy in bed. It fulfills almost all the functions of a separate bedroom, while only taking up as much space as a normal bed. With living space becoming more and more valuable as more people move to urban areas, the closed bed could be a stylish solution for creating privacy in a very small apartment. And you do you think? A good option for small apartments or a throwback to less comfortable times? Source: Maison Global, www.betternights.nl, www.amusingplanet.com, www.nationaltrust.org.uk, www.apartmentherap.com.