Need advice to make vintage platform bed more comfortable

Hi, I live in Washington, DC and inherited a danish modern platform bed from my great aunt and uncle. It’s beautiful, maybe an Ohlsson Danish Mid Century Modern bed for Dux, but I’m beginning to think it’s painful… and I can’t give it up. It is our primary bed with a split headboard that has independent swiveling tufted headboards and 4 wooden legs that attach into wrought iron square holes. The mattress we have sits flush (not inset) on the frame, which is exactly full size and consists of a fabric wrapped 2 inch border (that the legs also attach into via wrought iron) and instead of wooden slates running horizontally, there are two wrought iron convex bars that run underneath and one vertical convex wrought iron bar that runs the length in the middle. Those live underneath a thin stretched fabric material. This means that the mattress is supported on the 2 inch hard border “frame” and the middle becomes hammock/trampoline-like.

My husband and I are primarily side sleepers and sometimes back. I am 5 feet tall and 122 pounds, he is 5’6" and 120 pounds. Small people! We have the cheapest mattress discounters full size mattress (coil) sitting alone on the frame. It was originally my own mattress and is about 7 years old. My lower back recently started hurting and his has been hurting for a few months. I have always been a sound and solid sleeper but have been waking up multiple times a night because my hip or shoulder will start hurting. Sometimes, my husband finds sleeping on the floor on two camping mats more comfortable. Yikes! Not what we want. We want our bed to be a place we don’t want to move from!

We are wondering how this can all be remedied without ridding ourselves of the vintage frame. Should we replace the mattress (if so, what kind - we mistake plush for not firm), purchase a bunkie board first (if so, what kind), or both… or something else? So many thanks, in advance.

I should also add that I’ve been researching latex beds but they seem too heavy for this frame. I’ve also been looking at euro-tops. My husband sleeps a warm.

Hi Lilster530,

After 7 years your mattress has likely reached the end of its useful life but you can test to see whether a firmer support system will help with your back pain by sleeping with the mattress on the floor to see if it helps.

If putting the mattress on the floor helps to resolve your back pain or at least helps “enough” (and it’s not from the materials or components in your mattress softening or sagging) then you would need to find a way to provide a support surface on your vintage bed that would have little to no flex under the mattress that would be similar to the floor.

If you can provide some pictures of your bedframe that shows the specifics of the support surface under the mattress it would help me to visualize it better and I’d be happy to make some comments or suggestions about how you may be able to firm up the support of your bedframe.


Thanks. I will take some pictures this evening and post.

I’ve included a few photos of the bed. It’s difficult to tell what structure lives under the fabric and above the wrought iron under construction. When I place a ball on the top left corner of the bed, it rolls to the center. Let me know if you’d like to see the bed flipped up.

Hi Lilster530,

Thanks for the pictures but unfortunately I can’t see the design of the support surface or how it’s constructed under the fabric so it would help to see the inside.

Based on your description it sounds like the bedframe was designed to support a foundation rather than directly supporting a mattress so if you have confirmed that your mattress works for you on the floor then one of the foundations mentioned in the foundation post here or if you wanted a lower profile then a bunkie board or the slat conversion kit mentioned here should provide a suitable non flexing and even support surface for your mattress.


Hi Phoenix,

We slept on the mattress on the floor last night and it was still terrible. We could feel the springs poking up and we were sinking. That solves that. Thank you very much for the suggestion. We also took a level to the bed base. The head to about a quarter of the way to the midpoint slopes down but the rest is level down to the feet.

We also went to a Mattress Discounters and a Sleepy’s last night.

The mattress we really loved was called the Simmons Phenom Crossover Plush from Sleepys, #CP7645. It’s new and not online anywhere we can find yet.

• Smart Response® Variform Pocketed Coil® Technology
• Energy Foam® Base Foam
• EvenLoft® Sleep Surface
• AirCool® Gel Memory Foam
• Beautyrest® 3D Foam
Sleepy’s exclusive foam technology consisting of Latex, Gel
and Memory Foam
• AirCool® BeautyEdge®
• AirCool® Foams
• 10 Year Non-Prorated Warranty

The other, which was OK, was the Sealy Poplar Springs Plush Euro Pillowtop from Mattress Discounters #SEI491

and I guess they have it at Sleepys too:

My questions are:

  1. What, if anything, have you heard about the above two mattresses?
  2. What does all the jargon really mean in the Phenom mattress specs?
  3. From our platform bed findings with the level, would you still recommend one of the two foundation types you mentioned in your #5 response in order to provide a suitable non flexing and even support?
  4. Is it recommended/suggested to use the box spring or foundation that the mattress comes with vs what you suggested? We’d rather use a bunkie board for height purposes but wonder if that may mess up a mattress warranty, if the mattress isn’t used with its “suggested” base.
  5. Do you have other mattress recommendations in the same vein that we may not have discovered?


Hi Lilster530,

It sounds like it’s time to look for a new mattress and the first place I would start your research is the mattress shopping tutorial here which includes all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that you will need to make the best possible choice … and more importantly know how and why to avoid the worst ones.

As you can see in the guidelines here … I would avoid the major brands and the chain stores that tend to focus on them along with any other mattresses that use lower quality/density and less durable materials or unknown quality/density materials in their design.

There is more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase in post #13 here that can help you make more meaningful comparisons between mattresses but all the mattresses you mentioned use lower quality and less durable materials than I would be comfortable considering and I would suggest avoiding them (or any mattress where you aren’t able to find out the information listed here)

It’s just marketing “stuff” using proprietary names that they have made up for their materials and isn’t particularly meaningful or provide any specific information that you would need to make an informed decision.

A foundation or bunkie board will need a flat and level support surface underneath it so they are evenly supported and won’t sag over time so if you wanted to keep the same support surface you would need to find out the reason that your bedframe is sloping and repair it.

Most mattresses don’t come with a box spring any more so you will almost always only see foundations. Box springs have springs inside them and flex under a mattress and foundations don’t have springs inside them and provide a flat and rigid support system that has little to no flex under the mattress. There is more about the types of support systems that are suitable for different types of mattresses in the foundation post here but as long as a foundation or support system meets the warranty criteria of the manufacturer then it would normally be fine. Some manufacturers (mostly online) don’t have a “dedicated” foundation that they sell for their mattresses and in some cases a particular foundation that goes with a mattress may not be particularly good quality (even though they meet their warranty criteria) in which case I would choose an alternative foundation that provides better support for the mattress. The height of the support system doesn’t make any difference and is strictly a preference (and some platform beds don’t need a foundation at all and can be used directly under a mattress) as long as it provides suitable support for the mattress.

You are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion about which mattress would be the best “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) based on specs (either yours or a mattress) or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more accurate than your own personal testing or sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here).

I can certainly help with “how” to choose, help you narrow things down considerably by eliminating the worst options, act as a fact check, or answer any specific question you may have but if you are looking at major brands and chain stores I would “reset” how you are looking for a mattress completely and follow the steps in the tutorial one at a time which will give you the best possible chance of making the most suitable, the most durable, and the “best value” choice.

When you reach step 3 in the tutorial if you let me know your city or zip code then I’d be happy to let you know about the better options or possibilities I’m aware of in your area.