Love them or hate them, there’s something commanding about a canopy bed.
I wrote about them not too long ago; designers such as Alessandra Branca and Thom Filicia are putting a fresh spin on canopy beds, and some of them are just lovely. Some use gobs of fabric, and some merely hint at a canopy-like structure. A canopy bed can add definition to a cavernous room, but surprisingly, it can be effective in a tiny room (especially one with strange dormers and slants).
On our recent trip to Colonial Williamsburg, the canopy beds were delightful. I don’t know if there was any real function to them — privacy? Keeping the bed’s occupant warm? Something about something in Medieval times? )
Socially, though, the purpose of a canopy bed was to impress. You know how expensive drapes can be, in part because they use So. Much. Fabric. Well, a canopy bed can require even more. So in Colonial Williamsburg, if you had a canopy bed, you were doing pretty well.
(I did wonder, how often do you bring the people you’re trying to impress into your bedroom? But then I remembered: the first floor of a fancy house often included a bedroom, so I suppose there’s a good chance your local Lord or fellow revolutionary would catch a glimpse. But I digress…)
Here’s a canopy bed at the Governor’s Palace:
(Two quick sidebars while we’re in the Governor’s Palace? First, check this out:
See how the rug surrounds the bed but doesn’t actually go underneath it? It’s called a “bed round,” and people had them because, well, they didn’t want to put all that expensive rug where no one would see it! I think we should bring this back, don’t you?
Second, how awesome are these Chinese Chippendale chairs?!?
Now back to our regularly scheduled topic…) Here’s another canopy bed at the Governor’s Palace:
Check out the top!
A canopy bed at the George Wythe House:
I wasn’t sure about the checked fabric against the floral wallpaper, but the tour guide assured me that this was au courant in 18th-century England.
And finally, a canopy bed in the home of Thomas Everard, whose life was a rags to riches story.
Mr. Everard was an early embodiment of that most American of American ideals: the self-made man. He went from being an orphan in London to a merchant’s apprentice, a court clerk, and Mayor of Williamsburg. Twice.
Perhaps he with the most to prove has the fanciest canopy bed?
Bossy color is a full-service interior design firm in Washington, D.C. We design outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people.