The artful bed

 

Upholstered headboards rouse sleepy aesthetics

Sources

Calico Corners, 800-213-6366, www.calicocorners.com

Company C, 800-818-8288, www.companyc.com

Crate and Barrel, 800-967-6696, www.crateandbarrel.com

Ethan Allen, 888-324-3571, www.ethanallen.com

Global Views, 866-956-0030, www.globalviews.com

HGTV HOME Furniture Collection, Bassett Furniture, 855-788-4488, www.hgtvhomefurniture.com

Horchow, 877-944-9888, www.horchow.com

Pottery Barn, 888-779-5176, www.potterybarn.com

Serena & Lily, 866-597-2742, www.serenaandlily.com

Thibaut, 800-223-0704, www.thibautdesign.com

Urban Outfitters, 800-282-2200, www.urbanoutfitters.com

Wayfair, 877-929-3247, www.wayfair.com

West Elm, 888-922-4119, www.westelm.com


Universal UClick

There’s a lot to be said for bedding and luxurious thread counts. But it’s the bed itself that commands center stage. And these days, upholstered headboards are hot. They’re appealing for their soft touch and comfort — especially for those who love to read in bed.

Beds long have come in a considerable range of styles as rich as their history. From simple forms in wood that are stained or painted to fanciful carvings or intricate veneers, from skinny twin sleighs to voluptuous four- posters, beds still are sold in suites with matched bureaus, tall chests and night tables.

But the desire for more eclectic looks in bedroom furniture has consumers scrambling for other options. Metals — from brass to vintage iron and even elegant polished nickel — have traditionally provided some visual relief from an abundance of one kind of wood.

Upholstered beds have enjoyed a solid fan base, among those seeking individuality, as coverings can express personal style, with patterns in cotton, textural velvet or leather and even luxurious silk damasks. But in the last decade, beds clad in beige linen, often punctuated by nailheads, have become ubiquitous. The look is low-key and clean-lined, a handsome bridge between traditional and modern design.

So it’s no surprise that the upholstered headboard — flying solo — started showing up in that classic linen look, offered by an increasing number of furniture manufacturers. Besides the popularity of that simple expression, there’s an opportunity for customization, which has become a popular buzzword in design. Now there are solids and patterns in cotton, linen, even wool, and patterns including chevron, Susani, toile, ikat, explosive florals, tapestries and menswear motifs — in a range of shapes — at a number of retailers.

Calico Corners — a fabric retailer that also offers customized window treatments, bedding, furniture, upholstery and pillows — offers nine frames, with a choice of some 7,000 fabrics, embellished as you wish. The headboard, according to Calico Corners, is the “crowning glory of a beautiful bed.” Headboards can be tufted, channeled, quilted, accented with buttons and crystals, or edged with welting, cording or nailheads.

And Thibaut, the oldest continuously operating wallpaper company in the United States, founded in 1886, has expanded its fabric offerings with a furniture line, and now offers headboards with dressmaker details.

“The bedroom is a protected environment,” says Michelle Lamb, director of The Trend Curve, a subscriber- based publication based in Minneapolis, which tracks color and design in home furnishings for the trade. “Within it, on headboards, you can create such a personal expression of yourself. There are so many hard surfaces in a bedroom — perhaps more than a living room, where there is seating and chairs. Headboards act as a yang to the yin.

“In the 1980s nobody knew what ‘eclectic’ was,” says Lamb. “Some of the early licensed (home) collections presented furnishings in a ‘collected’ way, not everything matchy-matchy. Now everything is eclectic — although companies still are providing matching bedroom ‘suites.’ Upholstered headboards are a variation of a theme, breaking up the paradigm of walnut (or cherry or other woods).”

The variety of shapes and heights dictates the kind of statement to be made. The headboard can be boxy, slim or deep, serpentine or sumptuous. Even the simplest rectangle can be dressed with an arresting pattern, or in a solid punctuated by contrasting welting or rope trim or nailheads. For a guest bedroom, the mood might be tailored or romantic, perhaps expressed in a watery blue-green linen or a rich red on cream toile de jouy. For a child’s room, a playful print with animals, cars and trucks, or simply happy, colorful geometrics may brighten the space.

“You can be as low-key as you want or take center stage, if that’s where you want to go,” says Julie Morris, director of custom products for Calico Corners, which has 75 stores nationwide. “You can add some drama with more elaborate scale as well.”

The wingback chair has some marvelous interpretations as a bed, in traditional curved shapes and some more squared off — both styles offering a cocooning, sheltering element as well as an option as a room divider.

In Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams’ book, Let’s Get Comfortable: How to Furnish and Decorate a Welcoming Home (Meredith, $34.95), the designers/retailers describe one wingback style headboard: “It’s good for your head; this kind of headboard is pure pleasure when you’re reading in bed. At almost six feet high, the headboard becomes an architectural element. It also can divide space. Set away from a wall and backed with a desk, it forms an office alcove.”

An upholstered headboard may be a more affordable option than a new bed, which is a particular plus for those shopping for a guest room. But the price range is considerable, from about $250 on the www.wayfair.com website to thousands of dollars, where high-end styling, materials and construction can match the cost of luxury beds.

Some taller consumers actually prefer not having a footboard, as they feel too confined. With an open end to the bed, decorating options such as benches, stools or chests have less visual competition.

Solid color headboards offer the most versatility in selecting bedding, which can range in hues that can change with the season. A petal pink headboard, like one available at Serena & Lily, for example, can be teamed with lime and white patterned sheets, accented with a crisp white pillow with pink embroidery. But creamy mocha, navy or gray in solids or a combination of patterns, is a springboard for another dramatic aesthetic. A textured leather headboard like one from Global Views takes a cue from its structural form with a tailored quilted bed cover. Floral-appliqued pillows, some in a fetching shade of gold, provide a whimsical yet sophisticated, textural touch.

Using a pattern can work as a standalone, pulling a color from the mix for accessories such as pillows. Or the pattern can be echoed in a dust ruffle, curtain or in seating, as in a chaise or chair.

To be sure, headboards have evolved from the yawn-worthy (some might recall the DIY versions in the 1980s, often made with bed linens) to the truly distinctive. Today’s headboards are making quite the fashion statement.

So some retailers and manufacturers have jumped on a new bandwagon: slipcovers. The retailer Ethan Allen already offers them, and Calico Corners is set to roll out a choice of slipcovers come spring.

“They will have ties, buttons, nice dressmaker details,” says Calico’s Julie Morris. “And there will be a choice of a loose, shabby chic kind of look or tailored, still crisp.”

Such quick-change artistry can shift the vibe from Hollywood glam to beachy, as you wish. You can change up your headboard, just as you do your duvet cover,

“It makes it fun to change with the seasons,” says Morris.

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

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