Canopied to contemporary: A vast range of periods, styles is available to bed buyers


June 16, 1991|By Elaine Markoutsas | Elaine Markoutsas,Universal Press Syndicate

In the past few years, the bedroom has evolved into an expanded living space. Some people have added not only televisions but sophisticated home entertainment systems to their boudoirs. Others use the bedroom as a home office or home gym. You might even find a mini-kitchen in the bedrooms of those who have deep pockets and plenty of space.

Statistics tell us, however, that we spend one-third of our lives sleeping. And so, for all the added creature comforts, the centerpiece of the bedroom is still the bed.

"There's a wonderful selection of beds today," says Peggy Kennedy, executive editor of House Beautiful magazine. "Painted, metal, bamboo, 18th century reproduction -- they allow the consumer to make a real personal style statement."

What makes this wide range of beds more exciting is a new

trend of mixing these materials. "It is not necessary See BEDS, 0X, Col. 0BEDS, from 1Xto match the bed to other pieces in the room," says New York designer Jena Hall, whose Old Country furniture collection for Broyhill includes several bedroom pieces. "This eclectic look started in the living and family rooms and has progressed to the bedroom.

"Most of the other furniture in the bedroom tends to be wood, and that can get monotonous," she says. "And if you've added extra elements to the room, like exercise equipment, you can't get the bed to match. So in the bedroom, the bed is the one piece of furniture that can be different."

In its April issue, House Beautiful featured an intriguing four-poster bed designed by artist Babette Holland. It's made largely of copper plumbing pipe, with iron fleur-de-lis finials. Although the bed suggests a minimal, avant-garde style, it is framed with diaphanous silk, hand-printed in gold, and off-white silk damask linens and pillows, all of which soften the more industrial composition of the bed frame.

"The bedroom is, after all, an intimate place," adds Ms. Hall. "Look at the popularity of the lingerie shop Victoria's Secret. There's tremendous interest in luxury intimate apparel, so it's not surprising that we want the same elegant, somewhat seductive mood about the bed and how it's dressed. It doesn't necessarily have to be feminine in terms of lace and color, but in style and comfort."

And for those not comfortable with the frills of the romantic room and bed, there are more tailored looks as well. In fact, there is a bed style to suit most tastes:

*Reproductions and interpretations of period pieces. Eighteenth and 19th century-inspired poster beds are among the most popular. The Tuckahoe Plantation poster bed, made by the Hickory Chair Co., was copied from an original purchased at an auction during the Depression. The bed is typical of the genre made in England and exported to the British West Indies and other British colonies in the second quarter of the 19th century. It is crafted of mahogany and has elaborately carved posts that feature ostrich plumes, a pineapple motif and spiral carvings.

The French company Grange offers a four-poster in the Directoire style (the period from 1795-1799), which has simple lines and ornamentation. Made of cherry wood, the bed is outlined in black to accentuate the curve of the moldings and to follow the tradition begun when the color symbolized mourning for the death of Louis XVI. The rosette, a simple bas-relief sculptured by hand, adorns the head and footboard. The company has even introduced a queen-sized Murphy bed, a companion to the Directoire collection, for bedrooms with limited space.

More elaborate carving characterizes the Victorian-inspired bed that is part of Thomasville Furniture Industries' "Memoirs" Collection. This substantial yet graceful bed, crafted in pecan with rustic pecan veneer, has bead and batten-style paneling that resembles wainscoting, and gently curved headboards and footboards.

*The painted look. Although you most often see pastel colors on light woods, a handsome example of a different kind of painted look is a reproduction of a Victorian antique bed from Baker Furniture's "McMillen Collection," with a floral motif set against basic black.

*Canopies. Fabric suspended above beds came into fashion in Europe in the middle of the 16th century. These beds are appealing to those with a bit of a theatrical bent. Today, both the more traditional four-poster canopy and the "lit a la polonaise" style, where the fabric falls from a dome atop the bed, are now being seen in bedrooms that aren't strictly period.

*Country. Most of the furniture manufacturers who have incorporated such a line favor the mix-and-match look, good news for those who want to create their own country style. Thomasville's Crescent Cove bed in its "Country Inns and Back Roads" line debuted last October at High Point's furniture market. It has an ivory antique-lace finish (five finishes are available) and companion pieces, including a Barnstable blanket chest in antique blue and featherbed steps in burnished antique oak.

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