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How to find the best headboard for your bed to inject colour and comfort


Dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece, headboards were designed primarily to ward off draughts as well as to symbolise social status.

Decorative and functional, they can anchor a room, bringing together the different design elements, while making beds more comfortable places for reading or lounging.

In recent years, distinctive headboards have made their way from hotels to private homes, thanks in large part to Firmdale Hotels’ creative director Kit Kemp, whose much-admired hotel bedrooms often include statement styles (firmdalehotels.com).

Vibrant: A floral orange headboard forms the centre of this Kit Kemp scheme. The right headboard can anchor a room, bringing together the different design elements

Vibrant: A floral orange headboard forms the centre of this Kit Kemp scheme. The right headboard can anchor a room, bringing together the different design elements

‘On entering a bedroom, I love to be greeted by a magnificent headboard upholstered in a stunning fabric — it’s an opportunity to create something unique and personal,’ she says. 

‘In our bedrooms, we often use show-stopping headboards as the focal point; a fusion of design and comfort.’

Tall, rectangular styles add depth and drama, but curvier shapes are in demand, too. 

‘Rounded silhouettes and scalloped designs are sought-after as they tend to be elegant and easy on the eye,’ says Kelling Designs’ Emma Deterding (kellingdesigns.com). ‘They feel warmer and cosier and have a restful, cocoon-like effect.

‘In terms of colour, rich reds, oranges and mustards are on the rise, while blues and greens continue to prove popular.’

Dreamy designs 

Headboards are a flexible addition because their size and shape can be tailored to the bedroom’s proportions. Technical advances mean they work well in compact spaces, too. 

Why interior designers are falling ‘Features such as integrated reading lights, light switches and power sockets elevate the functionality of headboards, so I always recommend that these elements are incorporated,’ says interior designer Carina Raymond (studioraymondinteriors.co.uk).

‘Framing edges with metal studs or contrasting, piped borders makes for fun features. And patterned fabrics add visual interest if the wall behind is plain,’ she adds.

‘For the bed base, I favour a sunk-in mattress design (where the top of the bed is sunk in by about 5cm to allow for the mattress to be fitted in). It results in a sleek, polished look, complementing the overall aesthetic.’

Headboards that span the whole wall can feel overpowering and have a tendency to date. Instead, focus on a vibrant fabric. Getting the logistics right is key.

‘Consider the size of the bed and measure twice,’ says Kit (kitkemp.com). ‘I love a headboard to be perfectly in line with the bed and ideally centred on a wall — it feels thought-through and grand, even in a small bedroom.’

All in the detail

‘Pay attention to the headboard design,’ says Kit. ‘A large shape equates to a larger surface area, which means more space to get creative with applique designs or embroidered embellishments.

‘Don’t ignore the details. I use nickel studs, leather or wool piping or a contrast fabric upholstered on the depth of the headboard, which lifts it from the wall, making it really stand out.

‘Small rooms do not necessarily need low headboards. Instead, a tall headboard can draw the eye upwards, making the ceiling appear higher and the room feel more spacious.’

When it comes to using fabric, opt for those that won’t easily suffer pulled threads, stains or unsightly sheens.

‘We use velvet a lot as it looks fabulous on a headboard, but you have to consider whether someone will lean against it or use pillows as a buffer,’ advises Violet & George’s Nicky Mudie (violetandgeorge.com). ‘If pillows aren’t going to be used, avoid natural materials, such as linen or velvet, and opt for fabrics with something synthetic in them for durability.

‘Headboards look great in structured fabrics, bold geometrics and heavy textures, as they hold their shape well.

‘Always fix them to the wall, unless they are a single headboard, as larger pieces should be prevented from falling.’

Star of the show

Headboard shape and fabric choice go hand in hand. Do you want a decorative and traditional feel with a domed ‘onion’ shape reminiscent of the dramatic rooftop of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion, or a tall, bold sculptural silhouette?

In addition, a design that includes multiple colours will work as the basis for your colour scheme. ‘If your headboard includes yellows, greens and blues, for example, pick out a complementary yellow print for your curtains, a plain blue for your walls, and perhaps a smaller-scale green print for the valance or bedspread,’ says Kit. ‘This will deliver a joyful and cohesive scheme with the headboard at its heart.’

Layering multiple patterns can work well. For pattern on both headboard and walls, consider keeping your colour palette tight, adding a deep border of plain wool or linen to frame the headboard.

Commissioning your own headboard allows for greater detailing, by incorporating woven, embroidered, printed or embellished elements, or a patchwork of treasured pieces. However, a semi-bespoke service, such as that offered by Headboards & Ottomans (headboardsandottomans.com) is a good halfway house, with flexible sizes available, as well as the option of a finish in your own fabric.

Approach this design element as if it were a piece of art and you’ll be streets ahead.

Savings of the week side cabinets 

The return to elegant dining continues with the comeback of the sideboard for storing china and glass-ware. 

This piece dates from the 16th century, but was popularised in the 18th century by Robert Adam, designer of fabulous houses for the wealthy.

Robert Dyas has reduced the Interiors by Ph 3 sideboard, with its 1960s vibe, which was £270.99 and is now £248.99. 

Wayfair’s 120cm Solid Wood sideboard by Gracie Oaks, pictured, has 25 per cent off, reducing the price to £405.99

Wayfair’s 120cm Solid Wood sideboard by Gracie Oaks, pictured, has 25 per cent off, reducing the price to £405.99

Or, if Art Deco is more your thing, the Crossland Grove Eastry sideboard in black should suit. Its price is down from £774.99 to £689.99 (robertdyas.co.uk).

Marks & Spencer has also cut prices. The Padstow in dark blue was £749 but is now £599 (marksandspencer.com).

Wayfair’s 120cm Solid Wood sideboard by Gracie Oaks has 25 per cent off, reducing the price to £405.99. 

The Scandi aesthetic Jaycee sideboard has also been lowered from £237.50 to £209.99 (wayfair.co.uk).

Now, to which friends will you send the invitation: ‘Come dine with me!’?

Anne Ashworth



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