image of family sleeping in california king bed size

California King Size Bed Dimensions Guide

Perhaps you’ve always pondered this question: “What makes a California king bed different than a king, and why is it called that anyway?”

A California king size is still pretty roomy, but it differs from a traditional king bed because it’s longer and not quite as wide. After World War II, consumers desired grander beds to fill their larger bedrooms, and the result was a bed that was first manufactured in California—hence the name that still sticks to this day.

Prudence Bailey, founder and principal designer of Prudence Home + Design in Connecticut, says that her parents have always had a California king bed, adding, “My dad is 6 feet 5 inches, so that’s why it is the best bed for them.”

A California king size has other positives going for it too. Here’s how to determine if a California king bed is right for you, from California king bed size dimensions to design considerations to keep in mind.

California king size bed dimensions

A California king size mattress measures at 74 x 82 inches. This is longer and narrower than a king size bed, which measures in at 76 x 80 inches.

california king bed size mattress dimensions infographic

Benefits of a California king bed

If you’re looking for a mattress that’s not quite a queen and not quite a king, a California king size mattress might be just what you’re searching for.

  • Since a California king bed is longer than a standard king, it’s ideal for tall people—perfect if you or your partner want to avoid feet that are constantly hanging over the end of the bed.
  • As we said, a California king bed is narrower than a typical king bed, which means more snuggling opportunities with your partner—but you’ll still have lots of space. In fact, with a California king, you get 36 inches of space per person.
  • A California king bed size tends to fit better into longer and narrower bedrooms. (Keep in mind that at minimum, your bedroom should be 12 feet by 12 feet to comfortably fit a California king.)

Bailey concurs with these benefits: “California kings are good if you or your partner is tall, as there is more foot room,” she says. “They’re also good for people with large bedrooms since they are longer—it will fill the space better.”

Our Best California King Size Mattresses

Drawbacks of a California king bed

If you’re making a pros and cons list, this is the time to consider the drawbacks of a California king bed.

  • While California king beds provide added length, they are less wide than standard kings, and that means less space for couples, pets, and/or kids.
  • Because it’s not as common as a standard king size, it may be challenging to find properly fitting bedding. Finding a headboard can also be a little more tricky, adds Bailey. (Here’s what you need to know about special mattress sizes before you buy one.)

Design considerations for a California king bed

It really is true: a California king size bed has the power to make a small bedroom look bigger.

“If you have a bedroom that is longer than it is wide, a California king may be just the bed for you since it is not as wide as the standard king but is longer and will make your room feel more balanced,” says Bailey.

Once you’ve decided that you’re going with a California king bed, you’ll need to think through the décor. As Bailey mentioned, buying a headboard might be tough. “To get the style you want, you may have to get a custom headboard,” she says. “When we design a bedroom, we look at everything in it like a puzzle and how each piece fits with the other.”

“If you have a bedroom that is longer than it is wide, a California king may be just the bed for you since it is not as wide as the standard king but is longer and will make your room feel more balanced.”

A California king bed provides a perfect opportunity to purchase slightly larger nightstands.

“To accommodate larger nightstands, think about hanging a pendant light above the nightstand instead of lamps to balance the space and add reading lights above the bed,” Bailey advises. “This is such a great look, and the longer length of the bed will help support the drama.”

As for storage, a California king size bed may leave you with less room for other furniture. If that’s the case, you may want to consider a platform bed, which can incorporate storage. Wall storage is another good option.

More Great California King Size Mattresses

California king mattress foundation

Lastly, you’ll need to think through the foundation. Even though a headboard might be a challenge to track down, you’ll be glad to know that California king size mattresses can be paired with a variety of foundation types—just be sure to double-check with the manufacturer to see what your mattress is compatible with.

  • A traditional box spring foundation historically contained actual springs in a wood box, but today, it’s more of a fabric-covered or exposed wood frame that supports the mattress and creates a comfortable height for your bed.
  • An adjustable base allows you to raise and lower your head and feet, making for maximum customization and comfort. (Here are the top health benefits of an adjustable base.)
  • A platform bed is a modern option and can be used without a foundation. Instead, the mattress rests directly on the platform.

Still not sure if a king or California king is right for you? Read our guide to California king vs. king size mattresses.