What Is A Canopy Bed? 🏰 [All You Need To Know]


Paper, perfumes, and maps appeared eons ago, but we still use them today. Some inventions are timeless; they refuse to go because they’re useful for humanity. One of those inventions that stood the test of time is the canopy bed. So, what’s a canopy bed?

A canopy bed is a decorative bed that features curtains to create a barrier against noise, cold air, and peeping eyes. The curtains are hung on four poles rising from the corners of the bed. These poles extend a few feet above the bed with a connecting band that creates a fabric roof over the bed.

In the following article, we’ll reveal all you need to know about canopy beds. From history, types to ideas. And much more!

So, keep reading to learn all about canopy beds.

What Is A Canopy Bed? 🏰 [All You Need To Know]
Diane de Poitiers’ bedroom, Royal Mistress and Advisor to King Henry II of France in the 16th Century

Canopy Bed History

The history of the canopy bed goes back to medieval Europe, especially the 13th century. It went through a long journey of evolution to what it’s today.

The nobility of Europe at that time lived in castles and didn’t have bedrooms. Well, they had sleep chambers. At the same time, they needed their servants around to attend to their needs.

To have privacy while sleeping, the king and his family installed curtains around their beds. In the beginning, the curtains were hung from the wall to surround the bed. A little later, they attached the curtains to the bed directly.

Adding a frame to support the curtains was the turning point and the true birth of the canopy bed.

Quickly, the canopy bed caught fire with the European upper class from France and England to American colonies. In addition to the carvings, more decorations and ornaments adorned the design.

Originally, the purpose of the canopy bed was privacy and warmth for the nobles. They used expensive fabrics for the curtains, innovated luxurious styles, and emphasized their status.

The canopy bed became more of a fashion statement for wealthy people. New designs that featured complex woodwork, richer fabrics, and bigger sizes took the canopy bed to new heights.

During the Rococo period, the canopy bed entered a new phase of its evolution. Designs that reflect that period began to take the canopy bed designs in new directions. The heavy ornaments became less strict and more optimistic.

They introduced an iron frame to replace the wood frame.

From there, the bombastic design kept stripping more of its flashy ornaments. In modern times, the canopy bed lost all of its swag. It became more minimalist and simple to reflect the spirit of the time. When you look at a canopy bed today, you’ll see that all that’s left is the frame.

In the 1950s, a canopy bed revival was underway. Designers started to experiment with new styles. When you look at pictures of vintage canopy beds, you’ll discover the archy frames, ceiling curtains, and art deco styles.

Today, the canopy bed is stripped to the bare minimum. The contemporary canopy bed features a simple framework with four poles and a mattress. Even headboards and footboards became optional.

Types Of Canopy Beds

A lot of canopy bed styles and breeds existed over time. Kings and queens even had their signature canopy bed designs. In this section, we’ll sample a few of these most prominent canopy bed styles.

Lit à la duchesse en impériale

The lit à la duchesse en impériale is also a tester bed. Unlike the four traditional posts, the canopy covering the entire length of the bed below is suspended from the ceiling. Georges Jacob made it in France.

It also has two poles springing from the headboard for support. In 1782, French beds were so high because they had three mattresses. You need steps to climb to this bed.

The bed has incredible Beauvais tapestry, including silk and wool. The wood materials range from carved walnut to pine, which gives a wealthy feel and an unmistakable presence.

Lit à Couronne

Also known as the crown bed, the lit à couronne goes back to the time of Louis XVI. It features a crown-shaped canopy over the headboard, suspended from the ceiling. Often, the curtains hang on the sides of the bed, giving a feeling of exclusivity.

Lit à la Polonaise

The Polish bed is similar to the crown bed. However, the crown-shaped canopy covered the whole bed and was suspended with four posts. It’s a typical sight you’d see in one of the rooms in the Versailles.

When you look at the level of attention given to the carvings, fabrics, and decorations, it’s easy to imagine the comfort and luxury this bed provided. The sculpted crown has gilded carvings of leaves, foliage, plants, and more.

Lit à Colonnes

The modern four-poster bed started in the English Elizabethan era. The earliest version had a similar frame with four posters around the bed. Curtains were optional, but the bed’s columns were made from oak and were lavishly decorated.

Some of the beds had a roof to protect the sleepers from falling objects from the ceiling. Today, a roof is expendable. The modern canopy bed has minimum decorations, with only a frame of a long-lost luxurious tradition.

Half-tester

If a full tester is a bed with a full-size canopy, then a half-tester is a bed with a smaller canopy. The canopy in the half-tester barely covers the headboard. However, it was popular in the past.

If you’re looking for inspiration, feel free to explore more canopy bed styles. Hopefully, this gave you a taste and got you hungry to learn more canopy bed styles.

The Difference Between Canopy Bed And Poster Bed

Don’t confuse a canopy bed with a poster bed. There’s a world of difference between the two.

Canopy beds don’t have four poles to hang the curtains. Other frames installed on the walls or the ceiling can support the curtains. On the other hand, the four-poster bed has a frame with four posts stemming from the bed’s four corners. 

Canopy beds have a roof made of fabric, and they have curtains. The fabric of the curtains is usually silk or some light fabric. 

There is more than one way to hang the curtains that aren’t always the four poles in canopy beds.

The purpose of four-poster beds is to provide warmth and shield the sleeper from bugs.

In four-poster beds, curtains are optional. Usually, people would use a separate cover for privacy, warmth, and a barrier against mosquitos.

With those differences in mind, always know that canopy beds and four-poster beds aren’t the same. Now, let’s explore some canopy bed ideas.

Canopy Bed Ideas

Once reserved to the crème de la crème of high society, canopy beds are becoming increasingly democratized. Today, canopy beds are relics of the past; you can see them in museums.

However, the modern canopy bed is a different story. It draws from the deep medieval traditions while keeping the spirit of our times.

Now, you can pick it up as a fun DIY project to test the waters before investing in a designer canopy bed. In this section, you’ll get a few canopy bed ideas for your regular bed.

Fairy Tale Canopy For Little Girls

This idea applies to children and adults. And all you need is a few eye lags, curtains hooks or rings, silk curtains, and fairy lights.

It’s an affordable canopy that you can install in under one hour.

All you need to do is screw the eye lags in the ceiling surrounding the bed, hook the curtains, and install the fairy lights.

It’ll be a perfect environment for the child to enjoy a bedtime story.

Canopy Made From Wood Ladder With Bed Curtains

Do you have an old wooden ladder lying around without proper use? You can repurpose it into a classic canopy for your bed.

You can hang the ladder above the headboard, suspended from the ceiling. You may also mount it on the walls through hangers. Then, hang your drapery on the steps. Let the drapery block the light and enjoy a more restful sleep.

Simple Curtains Without A Canopy Frame

Another simple design is to have curtains surrounding your bed. You’ll just need a few eye lags and silk curtains.

Determine the dimensions of your bed and install your eye lags above the four corners of the bed. Hook the curtains and let them fall around the bed, giving you a naturally effortless canopy bed effect.

Crown Canopy For The Little One’s Crib

Babies will benefit the most from a canopy bed as it’ll create an isolated, calm sleep environment. You’ll just need a dome-shaped canopy with sheer curtains suspended from the ceiling.

You can add decorations, toys, and other implements to this setup for more comfort. It gives your baby a sweet night’s sleep without the mosquitos irritating the little one.

Camping Tent Style For Little Canopy Bed

This canopy bed idea might work well for the adventurous child in your family.

You’ll need curtain pipes hanging from the wall. Then, install your cloth or fabric in a tent shape at the bed’s headboard.

You can use this setup for storage by sewing pockets in the fabric. Your child will fall in love with this canopy as it adds an adventurous feel and transforms the bedroom into a master suite.

Need more canopy bed ideas? Check out #canopybed on Instagram or search “canopy bed ideas” on Pinterest.

Pros And Cons Of Canopy Bed

Canopy beds haven’t lost their flair even after hundreds and hundreds of years. They’re making a strong comeback, too.

A canopy bed will certainly add a unique touch to your bedroom. However, if you’re going to invest in a canopy bed, you should know what you’re buying.

The Pros Of Canopy Bed

First of all, the canopy bed continues to provide more benefits than not. It’ll always be a luxurious piece of furniture that makes you feel like royalty. It’ll certainly make your bedroom feel richer for you and your guests.

In winter, it’ll warm you. In summer, it’ll keep insects away. Furthermore, it’ll give you a tad bit more privacy if you have a big family with people running around all the time.

When it comes to decoration, it’ll give you unlimited options. You can style it however you want. You can even use it to hang clothes, which will make it more than a place to sleep.

The Cons Of Canopy Bed

The bad news? Canopy beds are high-maintenance furniture. You might find yourself doing more maintenance than you should. You’ll need to wash the curtains regularly unless you like dirty curtains that give you an allergic reaction.

When you have an air conditioner or a ceiling fan, the curtains will block the air from flowing. It’ll keep you hot in summer unless you remove the curtains or replace them with linen or mosquito netting.

That’s not all. Canopy beds aren’t pet-friendly. The silky curtains on your bed are precious to pets. If your pets sleep in the same bed, it’s not a good idea to keep them in a canopy bed.

Conclusion

All in all, canopy beds are as romantic as it gets. They’ll transform your master bedroom into a different era and make you feel like nobility.

When you’re seriously considering a canopy bed for yourself, maybe you’d want to start with a four poster bed. Make a small change and see how it works out in your situation.

Better yet, consider getting an upholstered headboard and canopy bed frame to add to your regular bed. Try some covers on to get the feeling of a canopy bed. If it feels good enough, consider investing in a full-blown canopy bed.

Spoiler alert: You’ll love it!

However, start small and see how it evolves. By the time you’re ready for a modern canopy bed, you’ll already have a strong idea of what to expect.

Sources

Team SafeSleep

Hi! We're a team of scientists, doctors, teachers, and coaches experienced in helping people with special needs. We hope you like our research and share it with others who might find it helpful too :)

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