Q: I've often seen iron furniture in the settings shown in design magazines. That has inspired me to redo my bedroom with a combination of wood and iron pieces. But now I wonder whether iron will make the room seem too stark and cold. What do you think?
Also, how should I treat the rest of the space? I'd prefer a soft, contemporary look.
A: First, a bit of history.
Originally, iron furniture was used on stone, marble or tile floors. Its strong lines and firm texture go well with such hard surfaces. Iron furniture was fairly common, for example, in the sparse interiors of early Greek and Roman civilizations.
Today, it is found in a much wider variety of settings. If accompanied by lots of fabrics and a soft floor covering in appropriate colors, iron pieces can easily be part of a warm and inviting room design.
Although it comes in many styles, classical wrought iron furniture is especially popular these days because of its lightweight and decorative appearance. But iron is always easier to integrate with other materials if its use is restricted to chairs or occasional pieces, which, however, don't have to be small in size.
In a bedroom, for instance, an iron headboard might be a pleasing addition. The entire bed, for that matter, could be made of iron, since much of it will ordinarily not be visible. An iron structure is certainly able to support either a canopy or, as shown in the photo, richly shirred fabric panels.
If you decide on dark-colored iron for the bed or just the headboard, I suggest you accompany it with wooden night tables in a painted finish. A softly curved provincial style such as Italian or French Country would be an especially good choice for the night tables.
The setting shown in the photo was created for a San Francisco show house by designers Mark and Susan Chastain. The lines of the metal campaign bed are softened by the opulent dressing which puddles on the floor. The other delicately wrought iron pieces are balanced by a Louis XV-style wooden dresser.
The two San Francisco designers placed a pink-and-white textured and fringed area rug atop an off-white Du Pont Stainmaster carpet with a pink border. That arrangement acts as a frame for the bed. Such a technique will work in your case only if the room is large enough for different segments to be clearly delineated.