Bed frames, by nature, are one of those household objects (and investments) that remain largely invisible until something goes wrong. Like a leaky roof or a couch that suddenly sags, a squeaky or rattly bed frame alerts you to a problem that’s rarely fun or interesting to throw money at.
Then again, sometimes those under-the-radar purchases can feel like a minor revelation. Consider the self-assembling (well, you have to put it together) solid-wood mattress platform by Thuma, a San Francisco-based company that believes “bedtime should be better.” I must say, I agree with them. For years the queen bed in our guest room shimmied and creaked (croaked?) on its cheap metal rectangle. It was as if the pieces of an old fashioned Erector set sat under our otherwise comfortable mattress. With more sleepy time at home during COVID, I decided it was the moment for a foundational upgrade and caved to the allure of the Thuma ads I saw on social media (apologies if you now start seeing them, too).
Thuma makes timelessness look simple. The frame, at $695, ships free to your door in three skinny boxes. It assembles and disassembles in under ten minutes with a drop and click joint system that you truly cannot screw up. No help or tools are needed. In short, you go from boring to big-boy bed in the time it typically takes to wrestle your duvet into its cover.
I wanted to know more about Thuma, so after a few weeks of silent naps and creakless sleeps, I checked in with Lindsey James, Brand Director at the San Francisco-based startup, and asked how Thuma turned a product that’s the definition of dull into something truly dreamy.
Tell me about Thuma’s back story. What gave rise to the idea of a perfect simple squeak-free bed frame?
Lindsey James: Our brand launched in the spring of 2018 after two years of designing and prototyping dozens and dozens of beds. We thought it was time for something better for a piece so foundational to our lives. We saw a disconnect when it came to the reality of products available, as no one really loves their bed frame, and often they’re an afterthought.
We focused on making a bed frame the right way—one that was full of intentional lifestyle-enhancing details, crafted from sustainable materials, and built to be enjoyed day-in and night-in for many years to come.
I definitely get that. “Afterthought” is why it took me so long to even think about getting a new one. How exactly does Thuma’s joining—to use a fancy woodworking term—eliminate classic bed squeak? And does it last or do you need to tighten the bed every so often?
Lindsey James: Squeaks and creaks from traditional bed frames is a very common complaint we hear, but it’s actually a very fixable problem, and it shouldn’t be the reason bedtime is interrupted. We built the bed using Japanese joinery which, simply put, describes the way the pieces of the bed fit together. They seamlessly lock in place to create a secure and sturdy joint without the need for metal hardware, which is often the source of those squeaks and creaks. The only pieces of hardware needed are two hand screws which, once tightened, don’t need to be touched unless you’re disassembling the bed. Add in the double-strength, cushion-coated slats and you have an extremely supportive, and silent, foundation for your mattress.
It’s weird because it feels like I have a new mattress even though it’s five years old.
Lindsey James: We often hear that from customers, or at least that their mattress is as comfortable and supportive as the day they bought it when paired with the bed. While your mattress and its age are important support factors, the bed frame below also plays a critical role. Many bed frames don’t provide that necessary support. When you increase the overall strength of the frame it makes it a much more supportive and quiet foundation than other options.
Thuma’s bed is Greenguard certified. What does that say about all the beds out there that…aren’t?
Lindsey James: Well, we won’t speak for other bed frames, but for us, our sustainability efforts start from conception and carry through the materials to the manufacturing to the shipping. We’ve considered every touch point. And even with all of the sustainable efforts, a bed that isn’t built to last is inevitably going to end up as part of the millions of tons of furniture waste per year. Our design philosophy is to only make quality pieces that last, because we know that quality lasts.
But, yes, our Greenguard certification is a natural after-effect in recognition of the details we’ve taken into account since the very beginning—we didn’t design the bed to be Greenguard certified, but it is. What we bring into our homes matters, and we are proud that our products meet some of the highest health & safety standards available.
It looks like you spend a lot of time talking about sourcing and sustainability. What’s your mission on that front?
Lindsey James: Sustainability only works if it’s built into the very DNA of a brand. We’ve seen it quickly become secondary for other brands, and we wanted to make sure it was never considered an afterthought or a publicity play at Thuma. We use environmentally-friendly, upcycled, and repurposed rubberwood from rubber tree plantations. By doing so, we’re repurposing trees that have already reached the end of their latex producing life-cycles and would otherwise be discarded. These rubberwood plantations are located close by our craftsmen and factories to minimize our carbon footprint and vastly reduce transportation emissions. We also work with One Tree Planted so that each product sold results in one tree planted for our world’s forests. Each quarter we designate an area of the world for our trees to be planted. Most recently we planted trees in Vietnam, where our beds are made.
I also noticed a lot less “stuff” in your packaging. That’s on purpose, too, I assume.
Lindsey James: Absolutely. For example, we’ve moved away from styrofoam entirely, and utilize recycled cardboard as our primary protective material. All materials used in our packaging are either recycled or recyclable, and we’re constantly looking for alternatives to continue to maintain our high level of product protection during the shipping process while never compromising our dedication to reduce our environmental impact.
What’s life been like at Thuma during the pandemic? With so many people at home, I imagine you’ve been quite, uh, busy.
Lindsey James: We’ve found that people are looking to invest in their spaces in smart, long term ways as they spend more time at home. This growing appreciation for life’s simple pleasures has really evolved into an interest in curating a space with minimalism, quality, and sustainability in mind. With the shift towards “less is more” and a focus on bringing “clean” pieces into the home already happening, and in the past year accelerating, we’re excited to offer products aligned with these values to more and more people.
What’s next for Thuma?
We are excited to release more bedroom essentials and amenities, starting with the nightstand, which we just introduced. It uses the same thoughtful, minimalist and sustainable design as the bed, and it’s great for storing whatever you need with simple sophistication.