Sleigh beds have inward or outward curved headboards and footboards which make the bed look like a sleigh. The headboard is higher than the footboard; a common size could be a forty-four-inch headboard with a thirty-two-inch footboard. The headboards can also be disproportionately higher. The sides of the bed are also low and so if looked at from the side a sleigh bed also looks like the frame of a harp. Sleigh beds have been used by the rich as far back as Roman times. Napoleon Bonaparte was very fond of them and started a craze for Sleigh beds in France which coincided with the French Empire period from 1795 to 1820. The sleigh bed came to America too in the same period and has been a popular design ever since.
These sleigh beds are also called French beds. The original sleigh beds were meant for one person only and were also used as day beds. The design is also common for children’s beds being low and making it easy for children to get in and get out of the sleigh bed. In modern times Halle Berry has had a sleigh bed crib made for her daughter. Sleigh beds for children in Disney style are also very common. A classical sleigh bed is usually made of wood which can be cherry, pine or oak. Today sleigh beds are being made of metal including iron, aluminum, and brass. Some modern sleigh beds have upholstered headboards and footboards. In America the Charles P Rogers Company has been making sleigh beds since 1855. Sleigh beds were popular east of the Mississippi River and in the South-Eastern states of the United States of America.
The headboards and footboards can be made in many styles but always sticking to the basic shape of the horse-drawn sleigh. Ornate carvings on footboards and headboards are also common. Rooms with a sleigh bed are done up entirely in a manner to suit the central piece which is the sleigh bed. A mahogany finish gives a classical look to the bed and dressers, drawer cabinets, and tables; armoires are also given a matching finish and veneer. Sleigh beds can also have the same sized footboards and headboards. Modern sleigh beds are available in all sizes, crib size, traditional single bed/day bed style, queen size, and king size.
Besides the newly made sleigh beds there is a vast supply of antique sleigh beds from the nineteenth and the twentieth century. The survivors include brass sleigh beds which have endured hard times and now grace stately bedrooms in vast mansions in America and Europe. These are collectors’ beds and are sold for huge amounts of money at furniture auctions.
President John F Kennedy had rented a fourteen-bedroom nineteenth-century mansion in Glenora, Virginia and his bedroom had a three-quarter mahogany sleigh bed. The graceful and mysterious lines of these two-centuries-old sleigh beds are such that it is a certainty that they will still be popular choices two hundred years in the future.