Bed Covers and Headboards
The bed has enjoyed a place of some social significance ever since human sleeping quarters were formalised within the home. Even today, someone else's bed demands due deference and it is a brave visitor who would consider using it without permission. Much of what we now see as purely decorative additions were originally designed for warmth and insulation in draughty old buildings. Some of the grander and more flamboyant decorative styles were made fashionable in centuries past when monarchs would actually hold court from their beds in lavishly decorated bedchambers. In modern times our bedrooms are generally decorated to fit the scheme that applies to the rest of our dwelling. The closer that scheme leans towards a traditional style, the more soft furnishings will likely be used.
Wall Canopies - These consist of fabric draped from supports that are affixed to the wall. In its simplest form the bed is placed lengthways against the wall (a feature of Empire style) with a pole attached to the wall above over which the fabric is hung.
Coronas - This is a step up from a simple pole-based canopy. Also called a bed-crown, the corona can be mounted on the wall or the ceiling above the head of the bed. Sometimes the corona can be fixed to the ceiling in the centre of the bed and fabric is draped out to the four bed posts.
Four Poster Bed - This is the most elaborate form of bed dressing where the four corner posts of the bed are tall enough to support a valanced ceiling and curtains for three sides of the bed. Because the curtains are seen regularly from both sides it's necessary to line them with a decoratively pleasing fabric or use sheer fabric for the cutains to add a hint of mystery.
Half-Tester - Essentially this is half of a four-poster at the head end of the bed and looks a bit like a large and elaborate pelmet. The half-tester can be supported on poles that form part f the bed-frame or it can be attached to the wall.
Bedcovers - Bed throws are the simplest and most popular form of bed dressing. They need to be quite robust to look good and quilting the throw can help with this. Decorative borders and a pillow-flap can add to the effect.
Bed Valance - The valance is a skirt of material designed to hide the base of a modern divan bed or to hide the gap between the mattress and the floor in other styles of bed-frame. A valance is normally teamed up with a matching bed cover.
Headboards - Almost every bed has a headboard and the range of styles and materials available is very extensive. There's a strong tradition of padded, fabric covered headboards that allow people to comfortably sit up in bed to read. Leather is an alternative option that has gained ground in recent years. Sometimes a headboard is replaced completely by a wall-mounted piece of fitted furniture that houses lighting, shelving and occasionally even integrated audio equipment.
Article by Melvyn Fickling
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