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DECOR : Shrine to Sleep: Behemoth Beds Are Back

November 25, 1995|From Associated Press

A spectacular bed, say a four-poster with canopy and yards of fabric hangings, once was the prerogative of royalty. But now beds that Louis XIV would have been proud to number among his 400 can be found at many furniture stores.

Judging from recent introductions this fall at the North Carolina furniture market, more impressive beds are on the way. Virtually every new furniture collection had its mammoth four-poster bed, as well as other styles that would be the centerpiece in any bedroom.

"We have found that a spectacular bed sells a lot of furniture," says William Merrill, design director of Hickory Chair Co. "People find a beautiful bed. Then they buy a dresser, chest and armoire to go with it."

His company offers a tall, solid cherry bed with an impressive carved rococo headboard. It is not a direct copy of an antique but instead is a fantasy of what royalty might have had in, say, the 18th Century.

Another fanciful faux antique four-poster comes from the Lane Co.'s Marrakesh collection. The bed has tall, spiral posts narrowing to flame-like finials as well as an elaborately shaped headboard and footboard.

Although bed widths are fixed, bed heights are not--and they are getting taller. A bed introduced by Ralph Lauren as part of its Desert Hollywood Collection has a carved, gilded and distressed headboard that stands over six feet tall.

Mattresses and box springs also are much taller than they once were, which makes the bed higher. Years ago, a box spring and mattress were each seven inches high, and bed manufacturers calculated 15 inches for the bedding when creating the bed frame, says Merrill of Hickory.

Today a set of bedding ranges from 20 to 26 inches high, raising the bed so high that many people now buy bed steps.

If wooden beds don't appeal, consider metal beds. The metal may be braided, twisted or elaborately curved, as in Lane's metal four-poster with a bronze finish, also part of its Marrakesh collection.

With metal beds too the watchword is more: more metal and more flamboyant curves and curlicues.

Those who prefer contemporary design have not been forgotten. The bed of choice is a large sleigh bed, often covered with fabric or leather.

Larry Laslo's Mame bed for Directional is wrapped in channeled upholstery from head to foot and along both sides.

With expensive extras such as yards of fabric, elaborately turned or fat wood posts, hand-carving and gilding, flamboyant beds do not come cheap. Prices can range from the mid- to upper four figures in queen sizes and larger.

"An elaborate bed is a focal point and decorates the bedroom almost by itself, with the simple addition of a few night stands or skirted tables and a dresser," says John Rosselli, who operates a showroom in New York and designs custom beds.

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