If you have a child or elderly person in your household, you may want to purchase bed steps to help them get in and out of bed. This is especially helpful if you are using particularly high furniture (perhaps an antique bedframe) or if the person has mobility issues. When shopping, look for practical features including non-slip surfaces, sturdy construction, and, if needed, handrails.
They can be purchased from manufacturers of bedroom furniture and also from companies that specialize in assisted devices for the mobility-impaired. Along with assistance for humans, some people also use them to help pets (especially older ones) get on and off the bed if that is permitted in the household.
Where did the idea come from? They long pre-date the modern era. They were a common household item up until the twentieth century, used for getting into a high bedstead. On many antique beds, the top surface of the mattress can be four feet or more from the floor, requiring some kind of assistance in getting in.
Before the advent of factory-made bed frames and inner-spring mattresses, beds would have several layers of padding. The bedding was supported by ropes woven around holes or pegs in the side-rails, headboard and footboard. On top of these were layered a straw mattress, a featherbed, perhaps another mattress and bolster, and sheets, blankets, quilts and coverlet. The result was a high mound of bedding which towered above the floor, requiring this assistance.
The actual bedstead (in the 17th and 18th century, “bed” referred to the mattress and bedding rather than the wooden frame, as many people slept on the floor) might also be raised up. Many families kept trundle beds for younger children beneath the parents’ bedstead, and a high bed also helped keep sleepers away from the cold air which settled in the lowest part of the room.
A number of styles of bed steps are manufactured that are very attractive accessories for a bedroom, especially one decorated in a traditional style. When no longer needed for practical purposes, they are made by modern manufacturers (or an antique version, if you are a very determined shopper) can also be a great place to display books, mementos or plants. Some even come with built-in drawers or storage areas with hinged lids. These can be both practical and decorative additions to the bedroom, especially for children and the elderly.