The Big Sleep: Designing with Four-poster Beds

The Great Bed of Ware, c. 1590, in the V&A Museum, London

The Great Bed of Ware, circa 1590, in the V&A Museum, London

Measuring nine feet tall by ten feet wide by eleven feet long, the Great Bed of Ware is the mother of all four posters. Built in the late 16th century for an English inn, and now in the V&A Museum in London, this magnificent, sprawling specimen comes from the Tudor period when the canopy bed, a medieval European invention, found its classic form hung with rich textiles. Today, the four poster continues to make a big statement but, as these examples from Designers Collaborative members show, on a less massive scale.

A canopy bed in a Palm Beach pool house designed by Bruce Bierman

Bruce Bierman: The crisp white drapes, trimmed in royal blue, give this traditional canopy bed from Lorin Marsh a fresh, modern vibe. Imposing, but not overpowering, it brings dramatic glamour to an elegant bedroom in a Palm Beach pool house. The mirrored nightstand is also from Lorin Marsh.

A canopy bed in a Hamptons beach house designed by Tim Button and Stedila Design

Tim Button: With its delicate frame and diaphanous draperies, this Raj bed looks perfectly at home in the airy, light-filled bedroom of a Hamptons beach house. And thanks its extra high legs, the bed has terrific ocean views.  

Canopy bed in a Manhattan guest room designed by Glenn Gissler

Glenn Gissler: The canopy bed’s draperies were intended to provide privacy and protection from chills in drafty medieval castles. Stripping off the hangings but retaining the frame creates a bed that’s visually less massive but still offers a sense of enclosing protection–just the warm welcoming feeling you want in a guest room like this one in Manhattan. Photograph by Gross & Daley.

A four-poster bed in a Central Park West apartment designed by Barry Goralnick

Barry Goralnick: Even when the canopy is removed entirely, as with the handsome four poster in the master bedroom of this Central Park West apartment, the uprights continue to provide a comforting sense of protection, like a quartet of angels standing guard at the corners of the bed. 

Susan Huckvale Arann Four Poster Bed

Susan Huckvale Arann: A simple metal frame brings the traditional canopy bed right into the 21st century. Its clean contemporary lines  contrast  attractively with the plush fringed velvet bed dressings.