Skirting around the Bed

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Divan beds are good for B&Bs because they are flexible. The lack of a footboard means tall men won’t stub their toes. The “zip and link” models (which are in two of my rooms) allow you to switch from a superkingsize bed to twin singles in a jiffy. Or so I thought until I had to tackle the problem of dressing the base of the beds. Unless you spend several thousand pounds, your divan beds will come with a functional but not very attractive base. It will need some form of camouflage, not only to make it look pretty but also to guard against stains and scuffs from feet and luggage, as the base usually extends almost to ground level. Bed skirts are known in this country as valances. They come in various forms, all of which, just like curtains, are a nightmare to iron. The least fussy ones have box pleats at the corners and middles. I discarded the so-called “easy-fit” variety, which come as one long strip of fabric that you pin onto the mattress all around the bed. I’d tried this type before, and found that it was fiddly to fit, did not look neat and tidy and took just as long to fix and adjust as a conventional platform type of valance. Shuffling around on the floor to stick 60 odd pins in the mattress, and fishing them out again for laundering, was not an appealing prospect. So I settled on conventional valances.

Then came the question of size. Clearly, I’d need one superkingsize valance and two single-bed versions for when the bed needed to be split up. It wasn’t possible to use the bed’s link mechanism if the single valances were left in place, because the sides and corners of the valance would get in the way of the mechanism and not hang properly in what would now be the middle section of the bed.

What  I failed to take into account was the fact that every time I wanted to switch from big bed to twin beds, I’d have to remove the mattresses just to change the valance. Another problem was that the superkingsize valance was simply enormous, and a real challenge to iron. I could easily spend an hour or more engaged solely on the task of making the base of my bed look aesthetically pleasing. That time was better spent on more important matters.

I spent hours online searching for a valence suitable for zip-and-link beds, but couldn’t find anything, so I resorted to cutting all the way through the corner sections of the fabric on my single-size valances and making new hems on the raw edges. That worked, so I searched again online to see if anyone else had come up with this solution. This time I altered my search term to “split-corner valance” and found a couple of suppliers. This is a white one, which I’ve just put on the bed. It’s two single valances, and the link mechanism is concealed behind the fabric in the middle of the picture.

These bought valances are not quite as good as my own doctored versions because their corners are plain hems, whereas my corners preserve half of the original box pleat elements, so there is more depth to the fabric. Nevertheless, I am relieved that I shall be spared the burden of having to heave mattresses across the room every time I want to change the bed configuration.

The most important thing, however, is to invest in good linen press. This is essential for the quick pressing of superkingsize sheets and duvet covers, not just valances. In this country, the cost of contracting out your laundry and ironing to outside agencies would take up half your profits.

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