What is It About Sleigh Beds that We Can't Get Enough Of

The Lairmonte Baroque Style Sleigh Bed from Furniture of America.
The Lairmonte Baroque Style Sleigh Bed from Furniture of America. | Source

History of the Sleigh Bed

What's your first guess? Santa? Sorry, the sleigh bed has absolutely nothing to do with Santa Claus, reindeers, and red & white candy cane. Sleigh beds were found among remains from the Roman Empire. Napoleon was thought to have popularized this style in France during the American Empire between 1795-1820.

The distinctive quality was the curved footboard that curled over along with a strategically lowered side rails. This was done to mimic the design of horse drawn carriages that were closely tied to those living an affluent life style. "Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?"

Sleigh beds made their way to the United State around 1815 and became admired by many. They're also referred to as "French Beds" because of their connection with Napoleon and France.

As you can see, the horse carriage bends at the front.  This is where the sleigh bed gets its form.
As you can see, the horse carriage bends at the front. This is where the sleigh bed gets its form. | Source

What Was it Really Made For?

The sleigh bed had an arching footboard (and headboard in some instances) with low side rails. For this reason, many believe that it was originally intended to be a single person daybed. Quite practical if you think about the dimensions.

Later, this was adapted more formally to become used as a traditional bed and this is where we stand today. You can find sleigh beds with solid wood veneers or solid wood construction through and through. Rich pines, cherries, and oaks have grains that stand out on beautifully hand-carved designs. Sometimes the association of a design continues to carry with it through time and this seems to be the case with sleigh beds.

Even today, they continue to be seen as being extravagant, ornate, and highly sophisticated. They have a regal appeal that makes your bed the center of attention. That's why they're so easy to decorate around. There's no way to walk into a room with a sleigh bed and ignore it, it grabs your attention by the horns.

A Walnut upholstered sleigh bed form 19th century France.
A Walnut upholstered sleigh bed form 19th century France. | Source

So What's Next

As with all relics of the past, the sleigh bed has received some minor updates with manufacturers and custom furniture makers putting their own twist on things with the help of modern technology and a changing global lifestyle. Aluminum metal materials are also being used as well.

They still curl inwards or outwards. Personally I prefer the outward bend because it seems more inviting as if it's literally opening up to you to dare you to take a 5 minute nap (as if this will happen). Outward bends work better when you're going to position the bed in the center of the room. Inward sleigh beds are more ideal for situations where you want to place the headboard flush against the wall.

Still there is no single rule that can't be broken in design. If that's one thing we know, daring to step outside the box and break all the rules is the only way to truly create with originality and unfiltered self-expression.

The Cortina California King Size Sleigh Bed leaves me speechless.
The Cortina California King Size Sleigh Bed leaves me speechless. | Source

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