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The Humble Daybed Has a Storied History

Nov 28, 2007
The modern daybed has a link to the past that most of us are not familiar with. From the ancient Greeks and Romans, through the Victorian Age to the present day, the humble daybed has endured. Most of us are familiar with the modern daybed as a great way to accommodate overnight guests.

Throughout history, the daybed has served many purposes is still considered an essential piece of furniture. To understand the full scope of the daybed history, just imagine any seating arrangement that can be converted to a bed.

The modern daybed is fairly basic in design and quite functional. Daybeds are made up of a wooded or metal frame with a linked spring to accommodate a twin size mattress. The frames can range from the simple to others that are quite ornate. Daybeds can be found in a wide range of prices to fit and budget and room decor.

Virtually all ancient cultures utilized a version of the daybed. The modern daybed has roots as a place to relax and predates the modern couch or sofa. In ancient Greece, daybeds or klines as they were called would often be placed in areas of the home where guests would congregate. As we use couches or sofas today, the daybed was a place for leisure and socializing.

Wood was a scarce commodity in many Mediterranean regions. As a result ancient daybeds were often made of stone or marble and festooned with pillows and cloth.

The basic purpose was to provide a place to sit or lounge. Even the design of the chaise lounge has its roots in the daybed. The proverbial couch used by the patients of Dr. Sigmund Freud was not a couch in the traditional sense. In fact, his couch was essentially a daybed. Not a quite bed and not quite a couch, it was a comfortable place for the patient to lie back and relax.

The medical professional in general has a history of adapting the concept of a daybed into a comfortable place for patients to convalesce. Early versions were often referred to as cure chairs. The cure chair was an alternative to the traditional flat bed. Confining a patient with a pulmonary disease like tuberculosis to a flat bed was rightly considered as a detriment to their recovery.

A full length lounge, with an adjustable back could provide the patient with the opportunity to sit up or recline. Heavy iron hospital beds were not very portable and the cure chair was a convenient alternative. The cure chair allowed patients access to the sunshine and fresh air outside the confines of a tuberculosis ward.

Daybeds have a history of portability serving another very utilitarian purpose. In the days of Napoleonic Wars, officers might very well have had lounge chairs that could be easily converted into a sleeping cot. Think about the modern chaise lounge and you can envision the utility of a place to sit, lounge and even a place to sleep.

Daybeds of the Colonial period featured a backless design that was somewhat narrow in depth by still wide enough for use as a bed. Ornate daybeds can be found that feature four post designs draped with decorative fabrics and lush upholstery.

Trundles have been a popular accessory for modern day beds. A trundle is designed to fit under the daybed and can be pulled out to accommodate a second person. Some trundles are designed to pop up to a height equal to the day bed providing roughly the same overall sleeping area as a king size bed.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular daybed site: http://www.daybedcovers.com. He provides informative advice on purchasing quality daybed covers and ensembles.
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