The bedroom of Lucy & Desi inspired me to explore the history of twin beds today.
And I discovered this:
As illustrated in the above plate from The Cabinet Makers and Upholsterers Drawing Book, I think it may be safe to say that Thomas Sheraton invented twin beds in 1793. His design for two beds with corner posts, separated by a space but joined by drapery-hung cornices, was called a “summer bed in two compartments”. It was “intended for a nobleman or gentleman and his lady to sleep in separately in hot weather.”
Seeing Sheraton’s early example of His & Hers bedroom furniture made me wonder - how did we go from The Great Bed of Ware, a bed from the Renaissance period, which slept 15 people at a time, to the puritanical twin bed setup of 1950s television & movies?
Well, in between, among other things, there was the Sheraton summer bed; a century after that, the Victorians declared married couples sleeping in the same bed unsanitary and unfashionable, and that siblings sharing one large bed was inappropriate; and then there’s this ad from a 1920 newspaper, promoting twin beds for the guest room, to keep your guests from the disturbing one another, or communicating colds and other infections. Then of course, the draconian film codes of Hollywood in the 1930s, which required married couples to sleep in separate beds, to uphold the chaste morals of the time.
During the first two seasons of the revolutionary television show I Love Lucy (1951-1960), Lucy and Ricky Ricardo slept on twin beds pushed together, but after they had little Ricky, CBS suggested the beds be pushed apart in order to downplay their sexual relationship [source]. So when did that setup decline? A few years later, on classic shows like Ozzie and Harriet (1952-1966), Bewitched (1964-1972), Green Acres (1965-1971), and maybe most memorably, during one of the many Mike & Carol moments on The Brady Bunch (1969-1974).
Presently, twin beds are seen primarily in kids rooms, as the best fit for a child transitioning from a crib. However, “in a time when families have fewer children, and most kids have their own bedrooms, twin beds have become less and less popular. In addition, parents are purchasing full sized beds as their child’s first “big kid” bed instead of the traditional twin bed. While twin beds will still be used for dorm rooms, hospital rooms and crowded bedrooms, they have lost the popularity that they once had.” [source] Although lately, the idea of benefits of twin beds (or separate bedrooms entirely) for married couples is appealing to more and more people:
“In a survey in February by the National Association of Home Builders, builders and architects predicted that more than 60 percent of custom houses would have dual master bedrooms by 2015, according to Gopal Ahluwalia, staff vice president of research at the builders association. Some builders say more than a quarter of their new projects already do.” [source]
A king size bed looks awesome to me in theory, and if pressed, I can easily imagine myself as a queen holding court from a stately trestle bed. But in reality, whenever I sleep in one, I wake up in the middle of the night feeling scared amid all that space. Example: this gorgeous setup pictured above, at a log cabin where I once stayed, with two twin beds pushed together, sharing a headboard. It was incredibly comfortable, but put a city mouse like me into a dead silent and pitch black cabin in the woods, and I will wake up at three in the morning paralyzed in horror from being surrounded by nothing but dark, great expanses of gigantic bed. With this fear, as well as what may be considered unachievable rich white people desires, I hope to one day be able to afford not only a home with separate master suites, but his and hers homes completely. Sweet dreams, everyone…