Wednesday, 27 March 2013


   Dressing a four poster bed is quite a challenge and using a skilled designer/worker is always expensive.    I have dressed two of my own beds with some rather simple ideas and they seem to work quite well!  I am not talking about elaborate swags and tails and shaped pelmets and lots of tassels and trims, but rather an attractive simple and well finished look that blends well with other furnishings in the bedroom.  I have always used materials that I scavenge from other furnishings as far as possible.
  To start, the bed needs a good valance right round the bottom of the bed and this hides the base mattress.    You need a 'platform' the same size as the mattress in any strong plain material and then three curtains hanging from it down to the floor.  The seams joining platform to curtains are usually piped as they take some wear when making the bed and pushing the sheets, etc, under the top mattress.   I have always used plain old French hemp sheets which have a good texture and are totally washable and work out very cheaply - Shoes and hoovers will probably mark the hem if in constant use, so washable is a good idea.
  The canopy, should, in my opinion, be something light and pretty that you will look at when lying in bed and I have had great success in using net and lace bedspreads for this slightly tricky job.  I think heavily gathered chintzy canopies are rather oppressive and claustrophobic.
  I have found some very charming old Nottingham type lace double bedcovers, often in France where they were very popular in pre-war years, draped over coloured throws, which will stretch both ways to the right shape with no cutting or sewing. I lay one very carefully over the top rails and then take a long length of 2" wide herringbone cotton woven tape and with sturdy drawing pins, press them through the tape and the edge of the net down into the wood on the top side, making the canopy fairly taut. I do not press them in too far so I can adjust them to keep the patterns straight; any surplus net I let fall on the inside of the rail and this can make quite a pretty border especially if the net has a patterned edge.  When it is quite square and taut, I then tap the pins in a bit further and the job is done!  It takes me about 1 1/2   hours to do this job - and I can remove the net for washing and re-use the tape and pins.  On the bed pictured, there is an outer pelmet of white pique, a thick quilted cotton, (made from  an old cot lining) with a border (remnant) of Toile de |Jouy, all lined in Toile de Vichy (another remnant!)That was made and fixed before the net lining. Headboard here is au naturel.   It was all done ten years ago and is still holding up!

Net canopy with surplus hanging along the inner side
Another canopy which neatly covers the ceiling
  If there is a high headboard, you can cover it to match any curtains or make a removable shaped cover in matching linen - I would avoid a quilted chintz headboard as it always gets grubby over years.  You can finish the bed with a patchwork or quilted cover to tone with the curtains.  I do not bother with curtains on the bed as they only get dusty and creased and get in the way of  daily bed-making.

1 comment:

  1. What good advice and such a pretty ceiling in that last picture. I had my canopy done by a professional and though the overall look is nice, I'm not satisfied with the details - which in general is why one calls on a pro!

    I've enjoyed looking through your former posts about washing. My husband and I still go to lavoirs in Brittany or in the Touraine every once in a while to clean rugs. If I had the courage, I'd try it for really stiff hemp or metisse sheets. The machine isn't very satisfying.

    Delightful blog!