Monday, October 03, 2011

Dreamy Beds

As I was reading my copy of Architectural Digest Designers' Own Homes, it struck me that a third of the thirty designers profiled slept in fabric shrouded beds. Some, like Leonard Stanley and Lee Radziwill, had more formal canopies and bed curtains, while others went for simple panels hung at each bed post. And one designer- Michael Taylor- had a rather grandiose 17th c. Spanish gilded bed hung with voluminous curtains. (You can see it above.)

The book was published in 1984, and perhaps poster and canopy beds were in vogue at that time. What I find interesting is that this type of bed found favor amongst both the devotees of traditional design as well as those who worked in a more contemporary idiom. Even Albert Hadley got into the act with his version, one that was simply dressed so as not to obscure the beauty of his antique bed.

Designer Leonard Stanley's bed was draped in antique velvet bed hangings.

Lee Radziwill's early 19th c. English four-poster bed appears to have been decorated with a printed glazed cotton fabric.

The bed of designers Loyd Ray Taylor and Charles Paxton Gremillion, Jr. was a blend of tailored, masculine bed draperies and frilly bed linen.

As one might expect, Sally Sirkin Lewis took a more modern approach to her bed, wrapping each poster with contemporary brown bed curtains.

Albert Hadley allowed his late 18thc. English lacquered bed to be the star of the show by crowning it with a very simple canopy.

A rather elaborately outfitted canopy bed, this one in the home of the late designer Rubén de Saavedra.

Diane Burn's lit à la polonaise was draped in two hundred yards of gauze.

Joseph Braswell's tranquil bed was simple and luxurious: neutral colored panels gathered at each corner. The headboard wall was covered in mirror.

The late Kalef Alaton chose tailored draperies for the corners of his headboard only.

All images from Architectural Digest Designers' Own Homes.


  1. I understand the visual effects these designers are after, but I personally do not share this taste. I live in Taiwan and have to use a mosquito net, and I find the proximity of all that fabric, however gauzy, to be unpleasant and claustrophobic.

    That issue aside, my favorite room here has to be the Hadley. It is elegant and classical.
    --Road to Parnassus

  2. Parnassus, I wouldn't want one in my bedroom either. I agree, it's too claustrophobic. I can't even imagine what it must be like to sleep surrounded by a mosquito net!

  3. Clients in Highland Park, Dallas, had bought a pair of Baroque columns and wanted me to design a duplicate of Michael Taylor's bed. Although memory ranks it as a success, I'll have to dig out photos and post them to let the readers judge!

  4. Jennifer I love Sally Sirkin's look and the way she wrapped the posts, very unique!


    Art by Karena

  5. Hi again,

    Yes, it is pretty horrible to use a mosquito net, but in answer to your question, it is better then being surrounded by mosquitoes!--RtP

  6. I have a "thing" for antique beds, including canopy beds==I seem to collect them....right now I have four antique (in caps) daybeds. I can't help myself-definitely an addiction, Albert Hadley's bed is definitely the best of the bunch. Thanks. Mary

  7. I agree with Peak about the claustrophobia angle~
    these beds look marvelous but could feel terribly
    oppressive in the summer months despite air conditioning. Recently I found myself encouraging
    a client to remove the hangings from an old four poster
    bed. It now stands on its own and contributes sufficient
    verticality to what is a tall ceilinged room. It's interesting to observe these changes in our perceptions
    of styles. Whether it represents fickleness or merely the
    desire to simplify, I can't say, but it's a subject worth

  8. Oh how funny, my honey and I just had a talk about whether to install (in our new apartment) my ciel de lit or the Balinese 4 poster style cotton mosquito net. Isn't it interesting how we all perceive space differently? We have had the 4 poster in other homes and it seemed so protective, so intimate. Just goes to show!

  9. I like the idea of bed curtains, that one could draw closed in a drafty january night. But I always think about the cleaning issues too...

  10. Balsamfir- So true. It seems like they could end up being dust-catchers.

  11. Provence- I'm shooting my mouth off about how it might feel claustrophobic, and yet I have no proof as I have never slept beneath a canopy before! So, perhaps I should reserve judgement ;)

  12. Anonymous12:54 AM

    Luv luv Albert Hadley