Sleigh beds refer to bed frames that have a headboard and footboard characterized by an outward curl at the top of each end. Sleigh beds somewhat resemble a sleigh, hence their name. Though sleigh beds can be made in different metals, they are typically made of carved wood. The more expensive variants of sleigh beds may feature hand carved curls.
The design for the sleigh bed is French. Generally such a bed would have been made for a single person and might have been used as a day bed or as a child’s bed. The footboard is almost always shorter than the headboard.
Americans loved the look of sleigh beds and first began to modify the design in the early 19th century. In furniture design terms, sleigh beds come from the American Empire period, from 1800-1820. The American Empire period declined as the ornate carvings of the Victorian Period became popular.
Early sleigh beds might curl either inward or outward. Today’s versions often stress the outward curl as it is considered more comfortable, and one doesn’t hit one’s head on the curl if one quickly sits up in bed. In fact some variants of modern sleigh beds do not even feature a curled headboard. Instead they offer a flat headboard and a curled footboard.
Some modern sleigh beds may also be covered in leather as new designers “reinvent” sleigh bed trends. Though designers first became re-interested in sleigh beds in the 1990s, they are now popular throughout the US. Much of this is attributed to the many magazines and television shows that focus on interior design.
If choosing a sleigh bed for one’s bedroom, be aware that the outward curl at the top of the headboard will require a little additional space. The headboard will not be flush with the wall as it would be with a flat headboard design. If one is limited as to space, one can choose from a variety of flat headboard sleigh beds that still showcase the beautiful curl on the footboard.