By Nancy Mattia, CTW Features
When canopy beds came on the scene in medieval days, there were no frilly fringes hanging from above or luxury fabric draped to create temporary walls. Their twofold purpose: to provide privacy and warmth to the bed’s occupants. Because members of the royal family demanded 24/7 attention, their servants often slept in the same room with them.
To afford the nobility some privacy in the shared space, beds were draped with yards and yards of sturdy materials on the top and all sides, which kept the elite cozy when the temperatures dropped. Eventually canopy beds became decorative as well as a touch decadent, with sumptuous fabric draping and an air of romance. Thinking of installing a canopy bed in your home? Here’s what you need to know:
What is a canopy bed
Traditionally, it’s a type of bed with four posts (one on each corner) with fabric draped over the top and on all sides. The look is often finished with tassels or other decorative details to add drama. Today, some beds are still considered a canopy bed if the bed frame has four posts that are connected together at the top.
Why they’re popular
“The surge of canopy beds can be tied to consumers wanting to prioritize their well-being,” says Kerrie Kelly, founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California, which serves both the residential and commercial markets.
According to the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)’s 2023 trends report, homeowners’ preferences are changing. “A canopy bed, which creates a focal point and delineates a place of rest, could be an element that would promote relaxation and a stress-free environment,” says Kelly. The cocoon-like feeling a canopy bed produces is comforting and creates a soothing atmosphere for quality sleep.
How they’re different from those in the past
A traditional four-poster canopy bed looks different from the ones in today’s markets. “They were known for highly carved wooden corner posts draped in heavy brocade fabrics with fringe,” says Kelly. “Today’s canopy beds can feel sleek and modern using materials like iron, brushed brass, acrylic, and simple wood styling for the frame.”
Instead of old-world brocade, modern headboards may be made with seagrass, velvet, or linen. Heavy draping on the canopy and posts has been replaced by sheer fabric or no fabric at all. “This aesthetic creates a floating effect for the mattress, especially when paired with hotel-like bedding,” says Kelly.
Best fabrics for a canopy bed
The type of fabric you choose for your canopy bed can definitely dictate the style you are trying to achieve for your bedroom. “The weave, color, and weight are important considerations for draping fabric, headboard covering, and bedding,” says Kelly. “Sheer and natural fabrics like cotton and linen will create a breezy fresh look, while heavier, more detailed, velvety fabrics will create a more dramatic traditional effect for your room.”