Sleigh Bed vs. Panel Bed: Which Is the Right One For You?

When choosing the furniture for your room, the options can be overwhelming. Since your bed will be the centerpiece and take up the most room, most bedroom designs are built with the bed in focus. If you are trying to decide between a sleigh bed vs. a panel bed, we’ll help you pick the right one among these two popular bed styles.

A sleigh bed curves outward at the headboard and footboard. Sleigh beds tend to have wooden slats that serve as the bed foundation. Panel beds, on the other hand, feature a large decorative headboard with side rails that support the mattress. They usually require a box spring to serve as the mattress foundation. 

The two beds are completely different when you consider their frames, the headboard style, the footboard style, and the overall look. 

Sleigh beds are heavy and tend to take more space than any other bed frame, plus they are usually more expensive due to the high-quality wood they are made out of. You can also replace a sleigh bed footboard to dress it up a little more. So, if you are looking for a stunning accent piece, a sleigh bed is a great choice. They also don’t require a box spring like a panel bed. Panel beds tend to be lighter and more affordable, however they require a box spring foundation. For both beds, there are a ton of them to choose from.

Comparing a sleigh bed vs. a panel bed, a sleigh bed has a footboard and headboard with outward curves.A sleigh bed adds grandeur to any room. It includes a footboard and headboard that curves outward from the bed. Source: Amazon.

What Is a Sleigh Bed?

A sleigh bed is a bed that looks similar to a sled or sleigh. Its most notable design features are the curved or scrolled foot and headboard. Often made of wood and quite heavy and grand. The sleigh bed is a result of the French and American Empire period of the early 19th century. 

A panel bed has different advantages compared to a sleigh bed.A Panel Bed fits in a smaller room and can provide a little storage underneath. Source: Amazon.

You might also be interested in learning about lift up storage sleigh bed varieties and their benefits. Make sure to check out our related article to find out more.

What Is a Panel Bed?

A panel bed is a bed with a four-wall frame including a large decorative headboard, a base, and two side panels. A panel bed is designed to provide perfect support to heavy mattresses after adding a box spring to its sturdy structure.

Comparing Sleigh Beds vs. Panel Beds

Why were Sleigh Beds invented vs. Panel beds?

When comparing sleigh beds vs. panel beds, Sleigh beds were invented over 200 years ago and the original reason for their invention is unknown. Panel beds were invented during the 20th century to support heavy mattresses. 

According to Vermont furniture makers, the design of sleigh beds is over 200 years old. Originally, the design was derived from Greco-Roman times. Then, Napoleon brought the design back to life because he enjoyed it so much and the Americans made minor tweaks to the design and further popularized it. Not much is known about why the original sleigh beds were invented.

Meanwhile, panel beds were invented at the beginning of the 20th century. During these early days of mass mattress production, box springs were a necessary component of any bed. Panel beds were designed with panels which could support a heavy mattress (like the old times) as well as a box spring (which was common at the time). Most modern raised beds are built on the panel bed design. Panel beds also include some space under the bed to be used as a storage area. 

To learn more about the history of box springs and mattresses, check out this article from Better Buying, published in 1941.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sleigh Beds

The biggest advantage of a sleigh bed vs. a panel bed is its sleek appearance. They come in styles ranging from high-quality wood designs to upholstered versions with a more streamlined appeal. The elevated foot base keeps you cozy while keeping your feet tucked in the sheets at night. However, that specific feature would be a disadvantage for tall people as it would limit their leg room.

On the other hand, sleigh beds are quite heavy because of the high-quality wood they’re made of which makes them hard to move. If that’s an issue for you, consider the upholstered variants because they are lighter. Sleigh beds are also more expensive than any other bed type, so they may be out of your budget. However, if you are worried about moving a heavy bed, check out our article on moving platform beds. Many of these techniques can be applied to a sleigh bed.

The advantages of sleigh beds include their sleek appearance, the variety in their styles and designs, and that the elevated footboard keeps you cozy. The disadvantages of sleigh beds include their cost, weight, and limited leg room for tall people.

Make sure to check out our related article, does a sleigh bed need a box spring for some additional information too. You might also find interest in these 7 sleigh bed ideas to enhance your bedroom

Pros and Cons of Panel Beds

The great thing about panel beds is that they come in so many varieties. They may seem boring at first, but you can find panel beds made of metal rods, wood slats, upholstery, wicker, or even rough-hewn logs. You can find panel beds that feel stylish like a sleigh bed, but are more affordable, like this panel bed from Bowery Hill available on Amazon.

Panel beds are designed to support your mattress with a box spring. This adds to the cost, but the benefit of your mattress lasting longer and providing better back support is worth it. Also, panel beds end up being higher off the ground because of the box spring. If you need a bed with a lower profile that you can get in and out of easily, choose a low profile platform bed instead. You may also be able to find a low-profile panel bed with a frame designed to sit lower to the floor such as this one

If you want to learn more about different beds that can help with back support while you sleep, check out this book on google scholar called Back and Bed: Ergonomic Aspects of Sleeping.

The pros of panel beds include their affordable prices, the support they provide along with a box spring, and the variety of different types you can buy. The cons of panel beds include the additional cost of a box spring and they can be much higher off the ground than other beds.

What Different Styles of Sleigh Beds are Available?

The different styles of sleigh beds available include solid wood designs that match a simple and elegant decor, upholstered designs with different fabrics and finishes for an elegant decor, and metallic sleigh beds that complement an antique bedroom decor.

Wooden Sleigh Bed Designs

Sleigh beds with wood designs create a simple and elegant appeal. Polished wooden sleigh beds are often produced using dark woods (walnut, cherry, ebony, or mahogany). They come also in different colors and hues, so you can find one that matches the main color in your bedroom. 

Upholstered Styles of Sleigh Beds

Upholstered sleigh beds give your bedroom an elegant feel. They can include pintucks or even be made of velvet for a sleek look. They can be made of wood or metal. 

Metallic Sleigh Bed Designs

Metallic sleigh beds can be made of brass, nickel, or wrought iron and they can help complement an antique bedroom design. Some metallic sleigh beds feature intricate scrolling while others intermix wood and decorative metal embellishments.

Make sure to also take a look at our 6 sleigh bed decorating ideas and some of our sleigh bed comforter ideas to see how to dress up any sleigh bed too!

What Different Types of Panel Beds are Available?

The different types of panel beds available include a wide variety of styles and materials, ranging from wicker and solid wood to veneers, metals, and upholstery materials. You can even find panel beds with extra storage.

Panel Beds Come with a Variety of Headboards and Footboards

Panel beds often look more traditional. Even so, panel bed frames offer a wider variety of styles of headboards and footboards. The headboards are usually pretty tall, and they come in a wide range of materials, including everything from upholstery to various metals and solid wood. Some panel beds even feature shelving, drawers, or other types of extra storage that can come in handy if you’re short on bedroom space. If you’re looking for a panel bed with drawers, check out this option from DG Casa Kelly.

Traditional Panel Beds Feature Solid Wood Construction 

For a traditional or classical look, use a panel bed with exposed wood and a lot of brown hues. Rooms with modern decor should utilize upholstered or metallic panel beds. It is also possible to polish panel beds with different colors to add some style to your bed. You may also add features made of metal rods, solid wood, wicker, slats, rough-hewn logs, or upholstery. If you are interested in dressing up your panel bed, try out these suggestions from our article on dressing up platform beds.

When Should You Buy a Sleigh Bed vs. a Panel Bed?

A sleigh bed is best used in grand, classic-style rooms and modern, open bedrooms whereas a panel bed is better suited to small spaces such as urban lofts or small apartments.

Use a sleigh bed in a room with a lot of space to make the room look grandiose. Here is a sleek, elegant sleigh bed to match its luxurious room. Source: Cocodsgn.com.

Sleigh beds fit in any kind of bedroom style, however, they work better in large rooms because their features match grandiose rooms like in the image above. If you’re worried a sleigh bed won’t fit in your room, make sure to take a look at our detailed guide to sleigh bed dimensions. Additionally they are difficult to move because they are heavy so they are harder to squeeze into small apartments. They work perfectly in the master room or the guest room giving it a luxurious appeal. Place your sleigh bed in a space with distinctive interior architecture like exposed wood beams or ornate molding. To cover up the box spring in a sleigh bed to help keep its elegant look, check out our article.

Use a panel bed in a smaller space like an apartment.This panel bed matches the modern bedroom decor. Source: Livingspaces.com.

Panel beds fit almost any room style. Some panel beds come with storage space underneath so they fit inside small apartments with limited storage. You can also utilize panel beds with traditional designs in more ornate or grandiose rooms like sleigh beds. Try to match the headboard design to the decoration of your bedroom.

Sleigh Bed vs. Panel Bed Comparison Chart

Below is a summary of the differences between a sleigh bed and a panel bed discussed in this article:

Types of beds Sleigh Bed Panel Bed
Primary Purpose Stunning appearance Support heavy mattress
The Pros Adds luxurious touch to a room
Durable because of its high-quality materials
Adds storage space
Supports heavy mattresses
Suitable for small rooms
The Cons Expensive and Heavy. Sleigh beds are hard to move. Requires a box spring
Higher than other beds
Room Decor Styles That Compliment This Bed Grand bedrooms with ornate decoration Modern or traditional bedrooms with small space
Price Range $220 up to $3000 $180 – $1500
Examples from Amazon Yuliana Sleigh Bed. We like this one because of the upholstery and tufts. It has a very luxurious look to it. Crown Mark black panel bed. This one fits a modern room decor really well.

List of Sub Styles Of This Bed Solid wood
Metal sleigh bed
Upholstered
High/low sleigh
Traditional solid wood
Upholstered
Wicker
Some Panel beds have extra tall headboards

You may also be interested in comparing a sleigh bed vs a canopy bed and how to replace sleigh bed rails. Make sure to take a look at our related articles to find out more.