The Colonial canopy bed was a four-poster with a wood frame and practical, as well as ornamental, drapes. The curtains that flanked the four bedposts can be pulled across during the nighttime to trap some heat in chilly houses since the hearth fire perished. Some of the beds have cross slats running horizontally over the bed in the canopy rails — a rug or heavy quilt could be tossed on the top of the frame, forming a true canopy and also contributing to the insulation.
Four-Poster Faux Drapes
Colonial canopy beds were not all fabulous turned posts and decorated frames. Many were plain, functional and serviceable, however, the hangings, canopies and bedding which covered them were valuable and elaborate. Testers, a phrase that came to mean both the fabric stretched across the canopy frame and the short valances that stretch between posts, were ordinary. The rails for the drapes were often hidden by the valance. Pull-drapes and valances may be ornately embroidered brocade in a wealthy home, or more humble fabric, worked at the ability level of their family seamstress in a modest family. Now, most bedrooms decorated with Colonial canopy beds are toasty in the winter. So faux drapes which gather attractively around the corner posters evoke the style of the era without much nod to operation. A gathered valance running across the top of their posters fools the eye into believing the drapes are more than decor.
An eye for fashion is not a modern phenomenon. Colonial-era homemakers have been stylists, also, when economics permitted. A stunning length of European fabric may be displayed to advantage, boldly swagged across the rails at the head and foot of the bed and twisted across the posts. Try it with overhead swags across the canopy frame on your bedroom. Semi-opaque organdy fabric shot with gold threads, or jewel-tone lengths of embroidered raw silk, drapes richly over the topmost canopy rails, sagging to drapes of fabric every time that the material is wrapped around the timber. Then the fabric is twisted loosely around every article to finish in a fat knot where surplus fabric gathers and pools on the ground.
Check It Out
The most basic Colonial canopy bed was a raised slab of timber to hold a bed, with a headboard but not always a plank, and four turned posts to support the drapes. Plain rails attached the posts and served as curtain poles and facilitates for valances and fabric testers overhead. An informal bedroom having a colonial four-poster can be charming with red-and-white checked canopy valance and drapes. Line the drapes in a solid colour — red to match the checks or its complement, a shade of green, or a different shade from the room’s decor, like medium blue. Polished cotton is casual; shiny taffeta adds a note of formality. With cotton, scatter addicted or braided carpets on the ground. For taffeta drapes and canopy, oriental carpets will reflect the bedding’s gleam.
The art of crochet could have been in evidence in the Colonial bedroom, along with a particularly fine example might have graced the top rails of this bed. A valance of lace crochet with dense crocheted medallions stretched tautly across the canopy perimeter dictates the remainder of the bed curtains. Finish the lower border of the valance with tassels made from the crochet yarn all the way around. Construct drapes from sheer voile — with vertical crocheted borders on the sides — which pull back to the posts or so are trapped back and caught with a crocheted curtain tie. By maintaining the crochet yarn in one color, like champagne, along with the drapery voile to a matching shade, the look is simultaneously homespun and complex. More crochet on the pillow shams or a coverlet to your bed turns the four-poster to an island of handmade textiles.