Posts Tagged ‘Four Poster Beds’

French Provincial intrigue

Friday, October 29th, 2010
Rannoch four poster bed from Original Bedstead.

Rannoch four poster bed from Original Bedstead.

There’s a certain formality about the French provincial style of decor that suits those looking for a sense of order within the bedroom.

In essence, “ A place for everything and everything in its place”.

And yet it is also a style that exudes elegance and romance in true Gallic tradition, and for many it might just be the decorative pathway to a favourite luxury holiday suite, only without the travel and expense!

Recreate those French memories with a timeless look that will snub fad and fashion. For all those budding interior designers out there who crave an inviting and assured bedroom theme, this might just be the style statement that hits the spot…

As always, it’s going to be the colours, accessories, fabrics and furniture that set the scene, and for those who have always looked for an excuse to splash out on a four poster beds, this could be the perfect opportunity. Nothing shouts “French Provincial” quite like one of these. Original vintage wooden examples with slim columns and intricate detailing are beautiful, yet sadly scarce and invariably pricey.

Scouring France for a nice example won’t make much difference to the purchase price, but an elegant metal bed design in half tester or four poster format, might just be equally appealing and rather more accessible, whilst remaining true to the Provincial theme.

Dressing the bed with elegant fabrics and linens will enhance the look, and this is one room style where rich satins and heavy velvets with tassels and rope trims, will never look out of place. Pile pillows on the bed for extra comfort that looks and feels good, and don’t shy from rich colours. Burgundies, shades of moody dark blue, eggplants, or chocolate brown will all be at home here.

Using them as wall colours in their own right or as accent colours for soft furnishings, upholstery or window dressings will add visual drama. And what’s more they will work perfectly with the dark cherry wood furniture that is French provincial style to a tee. Occasionally you might come across ivory French provincial furniture, but mostly the wood will be dark and well matched in design terms.

Whether it’s an imposing armoire or a simple bedside table, the colour and style characteristics should be uniform. If buying from scratch, a bedroom set is the perfect way to go and takes away the angst of choice and mixing and matching.

To soften the mood, bring in elaborate drapes that will add elegant flair. Fabric curtain pelmets with pretty tassel detailing and heavy valances on the wooden four posters or iron bed counterpart, will al recreate the look. Pick glamorous damask for great effect which would be the perfect companion for the four poster, or adapt as ceiling hangings to form an elaborate canopy for a great focal point within the room whenever a normal sized wooden or metal bedstead is desired, to impart height and visual intrigue.

And finally, don’t forget the mirror. Full length with an ornate gild frame or true to the wooden room set characteristics; it should be full length in true provincial style, whilst adding depth and a feeling of spaciousness to the bedroom.

Rich tapestries and some appealing accent pieces will complete the picture. It’s the detail that ensures the wow factor, and no more true than within this beguiling environment where the emphasis is on elegance and captivating opulence.

James Grahams “Celestial Bed”

Friday, July 30th, 2010

ELSEWHERE within these pages we had made mention of “The Great Bed of Ware”, truly the grandest Daddy of all beds, which now resides in all its enormous splendour in the V & A Museum as a lasting legacy of British eccentricity.

And yet there are, of course other famous beds that have raised an eyebrow or two over the passage of time, and none more oddly intriguing than that of the Celestial Bed, designed and conceived (apt word choice!) by the great sexologist, Dr James Graham who lived between 1745 and 179.

Dr Graham was arguably an early pioneer in sex therapy with an undoubted genius for spectacle and persuasion. His electro- magnetic Grand State Celestial Bed was created to make the infertile, fertile and produce perfect babies.

For centuries, Graham was dismissed as no more than a quack, although today he is held in rather higher esteem as something of a medical entrepreneur.

In his day, Graham was certainly a larger than life character with a talent for self-promotion and public speaking, but it is clear that he also genuinely believed in the efficacy of his unusual and rather bizarre medical cures.

The culmination of his notoriety occurred in June 1781 when he unveiled the Temple of Hymen within new premises in Pall Mall. Designed primarily to house his new creation, The Celestial Bed, it must have aroused much controversy at the time.

His miracle bed, although a little smaller than the totally unrelated ”Great Bed of Ware”, made up for in paraphernalia, what it lacked in size. Measuring a not insubstantial 12 feet by 9ft and canopied in four poster bedsteads style with a dome covered in musical automata, fresh flowers and live turtle doves, it produced stimulating oriental fragrances and ethereal gases.

A tilting inner framework device, manoeuvred couples into the best position in which to conceive and their movements would set off celestial sounding organ music, which increased in intensity with the ardour of the occupants!

The electrified, magnetic creation was insulated by 40 cut glass pillars and at the head of the bed were written the words “be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth” above a moving electrified clockwork tableau which celebrated Hymen, the god of marriage.

Whether or not Dr Grahams creation could be credited with any successes we shall never know, and certainly the good doctor was dogged with financial woes for much of his career, so any financial rewards were to elude him.  But as testimony to the dogged beliefs of 18th century innovators there should always be a place in the history books for such groundbreaking characters whose quirkiness and resolve (by today’s standards) forms part of the backbone of these great Isles!