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.