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).”