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Headboard History

The headboard is a piece of furniture that attaches to the head of a bed. Historically, they served to isolate sleepers from drafts and cold in less insulated buildings, and thus were made of wood, which is less conductive than stone or brick. Constructed to create space from the wall (via thicker end pillars) they allowed falling colder air to sink to the floor rather than onto the bed.

Today in better heated and insulated residences headboards serve chiefly aesthetic and utilitarian functions. They may include storage space for books and personal items, and conveniences such as lights and telephone. Those of hospital beds may incorporate critical care functions.

A headboard may often be complemented by a footboard for aesthetic balance.

Whatever overall look and feel you want for your bedroom, the right headboard can give you all the rest and relaxation you deserve. Headboards can stand alone or work just as well with a base. With origins dating as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece, this pivotal bedroom piece can dramatically alter your bedroom's comfort and design. Whether you choose iron, timber or upholstered, a well-designed and well-made headboard can become a lovely heirloom for many generations to come.

Headboard history. The pictorial history of the headboard starts with the Egyptian pharaohs. Headboards carved in ebony, silver and gold (clearly more for show than comfort) are depicted in many early drawings.


Next were the Greeks and Romans. More practical in their approach, they designed a basic wooden platform with a headboard to protect themselves from cold drafts. The headboard allowed them to eat and even socialize around the bed, making the bedroom the main entertaining area in the home.


With the Middle Ages came the canopy and fourposter designs. More intricate and elaborate, the bed became the most expensive and important piece of furniture in both rich and poor homes.


The Tudor reproduction headboard and base shown here are simply decorated and perfect examples of the era, yet they fit comfortably in a 21st-century setting.

Canopy with headboard. In the 13th century the canopy, or tester, was born out of necessity and then popular for its grandeur. The canopy was suspended from the ceiling beams using ropes, and fabric was then draped over to act as insulation against the bitter winter cold.


When gentry traveled between their city and country homes, they frequently took beds with them. Portable beds were known as trussing beds. Staff was assigned to dismantle, transport and then assemble them again.


The canopy headboard shown is a modern take on a medieval design. The scallop edging on the canopy harmonizes with the timber fretwork on the headboard. The amount of fabric and the detail in the canopy design make this a more expensive style. If you find an inexpensive fabric that you like both sides of, you won't need to line it, which can keep costs down.

Fourposter with headboard. The 15th century saw the invention of the fourposter bed. With or without draping fabric, this design became the rock star of the furniture world, with only the truly wealthy owning such a status symbol.


Ash, mahogany and oak were just a few of the timbers used during this time. With reproduction furniture, the harder the timber species, the more expensive the piece will generally be. More intricate designs tend to add to the overall cost, too.


This Juliet-style reproduction fourposter with canopy and headboard has delicate gold-painted details, giving the room a worldly, sophisticated feel.

Upholstered headboard. Upholstered headboards (or stuffers, as they were originally known) became popular during the 17th century, as the demand for comfort increased and draping fabric on canopy beds died out. The bedroom became more private during this time, and the need to show off had moved to other rooms in the home.


The choice of fabric is as important as the design of an upholstered headboard. Oils from hair and skin can quickly damage and stain a headboard. Leather is an extremely durable fabric but can be spendy. Some vinyl fabrics look just as good and can cost much less.


The design of the button-tufted, upholstered headboard shown considers both genders in this bedroom and has a sophisticated and elegant look.

Iron headboard. The beauty, strength and value of the iron headboard and base are cherished by all those who own one. In the later part of the 19th century, artisans hand poured and polished iron bed frames. When World War I started, they stopped, as the iron was needed to make weapons. The end of this war saw handmade items replaced with assembly line products.


New iron headboards now come in many different powder-coated colors and finishes. If custom is important to you, then this is the way to go. Make sure your headboard is made from cold-rolled steel, as it has a higher tensile strength and will not dent like hot-rolled steel.


Antique iron headboards are not cheap, but they do come with a real sense of history. A new iron headboard is comparable in price to a standard timber headboard and base that don't have a lot of carving detail.


Brian Watford I

Combination headboard. Regardless of the style or shape, a headboard will help anchor your room's design. If you need inspiration for the rest of the room's furnishings, start with the headboard. By taking ideas from the past, mixing different materials and modern methods, you can achieve stunning results.


This wood-framed headboard and base with shagreen panels and bone trim takes a few ancient design ideas (some previously mentioned) and creates a smart, contemporary look for this bedroom.


Humans have always valued sleep very highly as its vital link to health and survival is instinctive. Since mankind first lived in caves, and primitive shelters designed to protect him from the elements, the bed or sleeping area was naturally one of the most important places in the home. As far as possible, efforts would be made to ensure that the bed was as comfortable and as inviting as circumstance and environment permitted. Along with other essential household furniture such as cupboards, tables and chairs, beds have retained the same basic structure, defined by purpose, since the dawn of history. The elements of a bed: the frame, mattress and coverings are instantly recognisable across the ages. Headboards have been the natural, complimentary accompaniment to beds for as long as beds have existed.


Archaeology has proved that bed frames were used in Egypt circa 3100BC. The bed frames and headboards of the Pharaohs were made of gold, silver and ebony. The pharaoh's bed was raised off the ground with ornate headboards while the commoners slept on piles of palm bows, often with rudimentary headboards fashioned from straw or rolled up cloth for comfort. The beds of the Ancient Britons were simple wooden structures. These people also made headboards for comfort from locally available materials. The ancient Greeks developed a multipurpose bed which the used for dining, leisure and sleep. The head of these beds was raised and usually had a headboard of wood to allow for eating and resting while semi reclining. The Romans also used couches, with the bed area defined by curtains, and decorative headboards were also used as a sign of wealth.

Medieval bed furniture comprised of separate pieces of furniture – the frame, headboard, mattress and linens. At this time, headboards emerged as not only utilitarian, but also a striking feature designed to make the bed and the room look better, and to reflect the wealth of the owner of the bed. Some amazingly ornate headboards from this period still survive. Four poster beds were popular with the nobility and royalty. These four poster beds had extravagant and elegant headboards, designed and made by the finest craftsmen of the day. A luxurious bed is a thing of beauty, and the more ornate and luxurious the design of the bed and the linen, the more extravagant the headboard.


In colonial times, sumptuous headboards were exported from Europe across the globe. The bed frame itself and to some extent the mattress could be locally produced, but the linens and headboard reflected the wealth and cultural background of the person who owned the bed.

The headboard, having endured since the dawn of time, is a classic piece of furniture which is experiencing something of a renaissance at the moment. The range of contemporary wooden, metal and fabric headboards is simply enormous. The appearance and mood of the bedroom can be set by the material, colour, shape, style and design of the headboard. Fitting a headboard is a simple and effective way to update or improve the appearance of the bed and the bedroom as a whole.

Headboards will always be in demand, due to their aesthetic value combined with their practical purposes. One can find a headboard to suit the widest possible range of décor styles, from traditional to the cutting edge modern. A headboard makes a statement, and choosing the right headboard is the easiest way to decide on the mood or theme of the individual bedroom. Once the headboard is chosen, it provides a focal point, from which the curtains, wall colours and textures, wardrobes, dressing tables and chests of drawers can be chosen. Headboards are used in any type of bedroom, from homes, to hospitals, to hotels and palaces.

Beds with headboards make for elegant looking furniture. Headboards often serve to be the focal point in a room and thus one must select one with great care, keeping in mind whether it compliments the room, furniture and even the bed sheets. Headboards lend an aesthetic charm to the bedroom as well as serve the practical purpose of being a back rest for the sleepers. Surprisingly, headboards initially functioned as a necessity to keep the bed temperature warmer than that of the room. Headboards developed to protect sleepers from the cold weather by blocking him from the wind. Four poster beds were extremely useful for this purpose, wherein the sleeper could draw a thick curtain all around his bed to protect himself and remain warm. While those who could afford headboards commissioned broad wooden ones, those who were not as well off created make-shift headboards with straw or stacked cloth. With time, headboards became increasingly ornate and took on the role of a status symbol. Thus the fancier a headboard was it symbolized the high status of the owner.

Pharaohs in ancient Egypt had headboards made of ebony, sliver and gold. The English preferred headboards fashioned out of wood, sometimes with intricate carvings. However, it was the Greeks who created whacky and unique headboards! These headboards could of course be used for warmth while sleeping, or as support in a semi reclined position as well as a table on which they could eat their food! Here, the headboard took on the role of three pieces of furniture in one!

It was during medieval times that people started realizing the dual function of headboards not only as a bed warmer but also as a valuable accessory to enhance the look of the room and prominently display the status and wealth of the owner. Thus wooden headboards with intricate carvings were high in demand for those who could afford them. Upholstered headboards also became stylish during this time for their comfort as well as the intensely luxurious feel they lent to the bedroom. Some wooden headboards form the medieval times were so strong that they can be found in an excellent condition, even today.

Colonial times saw headboards becoming a source of currency for Europe as extravagant headboards were being exported from Europe to various parts of the world.

Today, the modern consumer can choose from a variety of assorted headboards, from metal, to wood, to the upholstered kind. The type of headboard he chooses should compliment the room. Metal headboards with a basic structure give a modernist, minimal feel while those with intricate carvings lend a decorative air to the room with a touch of modernity. For those who prefer the old fashioned look, wooden headboards are an excellent option. Decorative wooden headboards add an instant touch of royal glamour to the room. Those who prefer comfort over aesthetics can opt for upholstered headboards as they are very comfortable to recline on. One can chose plain or patterned textiles. Leather is a better option as it is easy to clean.

At Getaheadboard you can find single headboards, double headboards, kingsize headboards, superkingsize headboards, 3ft headboards, 4ft6 headboards, 5ft headboards, 6ft headboards, cheap 3ft single headboards, cheap 4ft6 double headboards, cheap 5ft headboards, cheap 6ft headboards, chaise longue, sofas, footstools, small footstools, sofa tables, buttoned footstools, foot rests, bedding, pillows, ottomans/storage chests, and much more.


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