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June 09, 2020 2 min read

At the Head of the Bed: A Brief Headboard Handbook

It’s the dominant presence in nearly every bedroom, for obvious reasons. It’s likely the largest, consisting of a footboard, frame, box spring, mattress, and of course, the headboard.

The headboard is a bed’s defining characteristic. As the initial focal point, it is the most visible component, the decorative mainstay. A matter of curiosity is the necessity from which it was borne. An effective barrier against the cold and drafts was needed to ensure the warmth of sleeping occupants. And it was so designed. Having long since become a universal staple of décor, it is most often propped against a wall, thereby defeating its original intended purpose.

Headboards are often built-in, solidly inserted into a bed’s construction. But they may also be purchased separately, and attached to a wall instead. Such versions are known as ‘floating’ and allow for more options, particularly size-wise. Either type can be found made with the same primary materials such as wood, upholstered fabric or metal. They may also share the same construction. A slatted headboard for instance, featuring a row of vertical slats, can be of either wood or metal, yet offer an entirely different look. For instance, a wood version is likely to have flat plank slats, while a metal one is most typically a tubular design.

A canopy style may also be made from any of a variety of materials. Posts emerge from each side of the headboard reaching an overhead frame that extends to the foot of the bed where it connects to an identical pair of posts. Ruffled cloth draping is used to enclose the framework.

Panel styling, on the other hand, is strictly a wooden affair (or a facsimile thereof), providing a horizontally-arranged rustic juxtaposition of multiple like-sized panels brush-finished to highlight their natural wood grain, which is sometimes raised for texture. Another primary example of a wooden design is the bookcase headboard. Just as the name suggests, it features shelves and nooks that are fully functional. A popular convenience, it combines practical storage with easy accessibility for those that read in bed.

Meanwhile, a softer ambience can be achieved with a headboard upholstered in fabric. Naturally, it’s the most comfortable for those that rest their head on, or sit up against, for better positioning when TV or phone gazing. It’s a cushioned surface, covered with any one of a number of fabric types. The use of linen, velvet, suede, or cotton establishes a specific look and is often accented by button or faux-diamond tufting or nail-head trim.

Each of the styles has something else in common – they come in a countless variety of shapes and sizes. Squared, rounded, arched, over-sized – each make a statement specific to your personal taste. Plus with countless color, style and accent options, a reasonable investment of time will likely result in the perfect ideal. That’s good for you, your comfort, and your room’s décor!


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