How to Decide if a King Size Bed Is Right for You

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king vs queen bed - image for floor plan with mattress in it

The notion of a “king size” bed has always baffled me. Why would two people on relatively good terms need all that space?

Maybe, says my king-size-loving friend Jackie, I am missing the point. It turns out there are some benefits to choosing a king vs. queen bed. A king bed is more than a place to park two heads. It’s also useful as a tool for living.

“I feel a lot of kinship with Proust, who liked to spend a lot of time in bed,” Jackie says. “It’s where I go to watch mysteries on my iPad. I could watch downstairs, but then I think it would be so nice to go upstairs where it’s quiet and I have lots of pillows and a down comforter—yeah, I’m going to do that.”

She adds, “I hadn’t realized how much I would like it. I can sleep diagonally. When there are two of us, we have enough room to move around—and I move!” There are other reasons why you might choose king beds over queen beds. A king size mattress provides space for children and pets, and it also allows you to keep enough space between you and a partner so that neither of you gets uncomfortably overheated while you sleep. (Speaking of which, here are ways to sleep cool.)

Jackie takes comfort from just being in the same room with her king-size bed. “If I’m doing laundry or packing, I’ll use it to make piles and sort them. It’s the widest surface besides the floor!”

How to decide if a king vs. queen bed is right for you

If you’re wondering whether a king bed vs. queen size bed is right for you, here are some things to think about before you make the leap.

Take measure

How big is a king size bed? A standard king size bed is 76 inches wide by 80 inches long—16 inches wider than a queen mattress. (California king size beds add 12 inches in width and 4 inches in length over a queen size bed.) Though queen size mattresses still reign as America’s top choice, sales of kings have been quietly climbing—in part, says Mary Helen Rogers, of the Better Sleep Council, because “people are a little bit bigger, so there’s going to be a need for a bigger bed.”

But only in part: Some 82% of those surveyed said that size directly impacts their perception of comfort. Bigger bed sizes aren’t only about creating more space for sleep. A lot of people like all that comfy space because they use it to do everything but sleep, Rogers notes, from watching TV and playing video games to catching up on work. In other words, in some households a king-size bed is a second family room.

Make a floor plan

Before making the leap from a queen size mattress to a king size mattress, space planners advise, do some legwork. For one thing, you need to make sure the bed can get around corners, down halls, and up stairs. For easier maneuvering, adjustable bases, box springs, and mattresses in king size—the equivalent of two extra-long twins side by side— can be ordered “split.” (Individual twin XL mattresses measure 38 inches wide by 80 inches long.)

Ideally, the bed will land if not in a castle then at least in a space that’s 14 by 19 feet, says Sara Raak, a decorator and stylist based in Washington, D.C. “You can make it work in a smaller room, just know it will be a lot ‘cozier,'” she says. The minimum dimensions for a bedroom that can accommodate a king bed (and still leave room to maneuver) are about 10 feet by 12 feet.

Next, map out the placement of the king size bed in the room. Jeffrey Phillip, an interior designer and organizer in New York, says people often make the mistake of assuming that the new king size bed can slide right into the old one’s spot. He starts by asking, “Will the headboard still fit between windows? Can all the doors in the room still swing properly?” He even asks clients to make sure there’s enough floor space for the dog to spread out—assuming the dog hasn’t already made plans to join the crowd on the bed.

Whatever the room size, Raak advises, “take painter’s tape and tape out where the bed would go, making sure you have three feet of walk-around room, plus space for your furniture.”

A nightstand can share the required path around the king bed, but a dresser is another story. If the room is small, Phillip says, “you may need to move the dresser from the room or fit it in a walk-in closet.”

Size up storage needs

Depending on the size of your space, a king size bed may mean less room for other furnishings. “The good news is that there are so many options for storage these days,” Raak says. “A platform bed can incorporate storage. A bedside table can too.”

Raak is also a fan of wall storage and suggests taking a look at Ikea’s perennial favorite, the Billy bookcase, which comes in different sizes and options like doors, allowing two or more units to be configured to fit one’s space and storage needs. Paint and trim, such as crown molding, can give the end result a custom built-in look.

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For more advice on finding the perfect bed for you, here’s how to choose the right mattress for your sleep style.