Round beds come around again

June 16, 2007|By David A. Keeps | David A. Keeps,Los Angeles Times

Remember the revolving circular bed from which the Mike Meyers' character Austin Powers proclaimed his shag-ability? Laugh if you must, but the Lazy Susan sleeper - that semaphore of swinging bachelorhood - is no longer a joke to be found solely in Hollywood comedies and special-interest hotel suites.

The latest models, available from prominent Italian furniture showrooms, come equipped with streamlined leather headboards, custom-fitted linens and optional side pieces that function as nightstands and footboards.

Still groovy, they have found a new design niche with mid-century aficionados and space-challenged decorators.

These days, the buyer is likely to be someone who thinks outside the box, but the round bed sells itself on its obvious design advantages rather than any implied aphrodisiac qualities.

"It had nothing to do with being sexy," says Los Angeles resident Judith Darch, who purchased a Poltrona Frau white leather Lullaby Due bed for her vacation home in Mammoth, Calif.

"I just wanted a different look; you can do so much with it, and it sleeps the same as a regular king bed."

With a diameter about equal to the length of a California king bed, the mattress-go-round offers 360-degree views of the room, which is why some decorators recommend it to clients with fireplaces, plasma TVs and multiple windows in their boudoirs.

The rounded edges also take up less floor space, and you never have to worry about hospital corners when making up the bed. That can be expensive, however. While manufacturers insist that king flat sheets can be used on circular mattresses, fussy folks may have to spend another $1,000 for fitted bedding.

The price of a mattress and base can be steep enough to induce vertigo. Revolving beds by the Italian firms Cappellini, Poltrona Frau and Prealpi typically cost more than $10,000.

In a surprising spin, however, lower-cost stationary versions of this adult novelty bed have also become popular for kids' rooms. After success with local retailers, Chicago-based manufacturer Glober Furniture Inc. offers the Sercio bed with a curved, mirror-trimmed headboard and a base illuminated with rope lights. It is priced less than $3,500, including the 7-foot-diameter mattress; IKEA's Sultan Sandane, a round mattress on a minimalist frame, is about a quarter of the cost.

"They're a bit campy," Los Angeles interior designer Jackie Terrell says, "but I can see how it would be fun in a teenager's room."

Terrell, who is known for positioning beds in the center of rooms, says that if a client wanted a round bed, she would definitely "float" it under suspended lighting for a futuristic look. "I think it would be great to use a round bed in a guest room or TV room, where you could pile a bunch of big pillows on it and use it more as a lounge."

That's how candle designer DayNa Decker uses the Prealpi Histoire D'O revolving bed she purchased for her mid-century home in the Hollywood Hills. In a 12-by-12-foot second bedroom, the bed serves sleepover guests, though Decker and her husband often curl up on it to watch TV.

"If it was a square bed, we probably wouldn't hang out in the room as much," she says. "It's much cozier and if there's nothing on TV, we can spin the bed and look out the window."

For an even more contemplative experience, Alberto Frias' Transport is a fiberglass pod with a circular water mattress. The custom-order piece is outfitted with LED lights and a sound system.

The round bed arrived as a futuristic statement in the swinging '60s, making the scene as a Space Age sleeping surface around the same time as the waterbed, which also was offered in the round. Gimmicky at first, circular beds quickly found favor in hotels and resorts; the Culver Hotel in Culver City, Calif., still sports one in the John Wayne suite.

As residential furniture, the design came of age in 1968 with the Lullaby, a motorized revolving bed that had an elegant, tufted leather headboard and a suite of matching tables and ottomans by Luigi Massoni for Poltrona Frau.

That company recently revived the bed as Lullaby Due, with a taller, slightly curved semicircular headboard. It has been joined by the Prealpi Histoire D'O, which can be augmented with curved nightstands that can fit against a flat wall or in the corner of a room. The latest arrival by Cappellini features a curved, open-shelved trolley table on casters that can be swung around the bed to use as a nightstand or footboard.

Stripped of the glitz that usually equates round beds with soft-core erotic films, the latest generation has more of the Zen simplicity of contemporary platform beds.

There is no evidence that a circular bed offers greater health benefits than the traditional rectangle. "It's purely an aesthetic choice," says Santa Monica, Calif., chiropractor Eric Dahlstrom. "But if a round bed is the focal point of your bedroom and it makes you feel calm, then you are probably going to get a better night's sleep, which affects your psychological and physical health."

One more upside of a round mattress on a revolving base: It's much easier to avoid getting up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning.

David A. Keeps writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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