(Image credit: Koreller)
Have you ever been tempted to sleep in a cupboard? You might try that if your chifforobe was a bit bigger. In some old homes, more so in Europe than in the US, you might find a storage box on legs or an alcove that was unusually large for a wardrobe. These aren't wardrobes, although they were often used to store linens. They are box beds, also called a closet bed or a close bed. People would climb inside and sleep, sometimes up to a half-dozen people at a time! Box beds were in use from medieval times to the 20th century.
(Image credit: Paul Hermans)
When you think more about it, they do look rather cozy. While it seems strange to us today, sleeping in an enclosed space with the entire family or a few co-workers would keep you warm, and there would be no light to disturb you. That warmth was quite important in houses with no central heating or insulation, which was all of them from peasant huts to royal palaces. And if you had extra box beds, there would be no need for more rooms for guests. Just shut the cupboard doors for privacy!
(Image credit: Chris Booms)
The universality of box beds meant they came in all shapes, sizes, styles, and qualities. Migrant laborers would be offered plain plank boxes, while the upper classes had box beds with fancy carvings, steps, and storage drawers. Read more about box beds and how they were used before we had modern heating systems at BBC Future. -via Damn Interesting