A few weeks ago we checked into a New York hotel for one of our periodic visits. When I propped myself up in bed to check email on the iPad, the raised panels on the wooden headboard dug into my head and back. It took a lot of adjustment to get comfortable and I had to rearrange the pillows every time I moved. That’s why upholstered shaped headboards — which have built in comfort — are so often used. As a bonus, they have an infinite range of profiles, sizes and fabric coverings.
One of the most unusual headboards I’ve seen lately is a grand circle [top]. Clearly, this one is based on Art Deco furniture from the 1930s and it’s huge — at least six-feet high since it almost reaches the crown molding. Set against solid wallpaper, the white-on-green Ikat-style print offers a dramatic visual. Embroidery on the bedding coordinates well with the color scheme and it’s interesting to note that the bed frame is upholstered with a reversed green-on-white fabric that shows terrific attention to detail. The scale of this shape has a major impact despite the simplicity.
Many headboard shapes are based on architectural arches. While the technical names are rarely used, this chart — from Sherrill Whiton’s textbook “Interior Design & Decoration” — tells the story very clearly.
Some headboards are sculpted to include curves and ledges which have their basis in Greek architectural moldings. Again, this chart shows the basics. While the combinations are more abstract on a headboard than woodwork or cabinetry, the origin is the same.
A variation on the quatrefoil (5-leaf) arch, this Velvet Tufted headboard is skillfully set against a series of windows elaborately draped with Clarence House “Flowering Quince” curtains and valance. It works with the Asian pattern and maintains a luxe look even though it’s a budget-wise find from Urban Outfitters.
Graceful, wrought iron canopy beds are typically Italian but the addition of an upholstered inset panel was an ingenious variation by designer and antique dealer Tara Shaw. The swirling large-scale Damask “Dedar” fabric (from Tara Shaw Maison) is based on acanthus leaves and perfectly compliments the capped, scooped and sloped headboard lines. I adore this fabric — wouldn’t the pattern make an amazing wallpaper, too?
Nailheads – an elegant, custom embellishment — outline the curving shoulders and flat top of this headboard and continue around the bed’s base. Having a straight, rather than curved crown, makes this headboard interesting and gives it a slightly masculine vibe.
Stepped “shoulders” and a dense geometric fabric push this headboard towards a modernist aesthetic which focuses on right angles and avoids curves.
Most contemporary of all is the slab headboard with a slim white-painted picture frame and upholstered field. If the fabric was plain instead of patterned I feel this shape would be really dull. But here, it’s a perfect choice for a bedroom that spans the spectrum from white to black with shades of gray.
(Source: Canadian House & Home, Domino, West Elm, Veranda, theheartofyourhome, House Beautiful)
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