May 18, 2017
Four-poster beds have always been the stuff of fairy tales and legends. In the Middle Ages, they were generally reserved for nobility. They were usually massive pieces of furniture, ornately carved from oak and festooned with tapestries.
Although no longer always hewn from sturdy oak, four-poster beds are still popular today, and there are many more ways of decorating them than just with tapestries. Here are a few examples of different treatments of four-poster beds:
Four-poster beds actually evolved from canopy beds, which were created originally for very practical reasons – privacy and warmth. When canopy beds were first invented, the curtains hung from the ceiling. But that changed after a frame with four posts was added to support an overhead canopy, usually made of wood, which helped to hold in the heat.
Like the original beds, the early canopies were also usually made of heavy carved oak. Later on, fabric took the place of the wood canopy. On some types of beds, the outer wood canopy frame continued to be used, while on others, the canopy was simply attached to the four posts.
The canopy creates a nice cozy, secure atmosphere, which accounts for much of its popularity.
Today, you can get a canopy bed with a variety of drapery treatments. You can, for example, use drapery at the head of the bed with valances and side drapery as well. Or use a layer of drapery behind the headboard and partial panels on the side, set the canopy in a wood frame and use valances along the sides.
Another alternative to the canopy is a valance at the head of the bed. For example, hanging the valance from the ceiling and having the posts of the bed fit into it, with a drapery behind.
This is where you drape a section of fabric over the frame of the bed in a carefree, informal way. It’s a very easy and inexpensive way to decorate the bed. You can use just one swag, or more than one. And you can vary the length so that the material either just touches the floor, or puddles on the floor.
Using drapery panels on the corners is a popular treatment. They can hang loosely or drawn together. You can also use drapery at the head of the bed to create a kind of headboard effect. Depending on the effect that you want, you can use a drapery panel that has no fullness – completely flat – or one with total fullness.