A Short History of the Bedroom.

I absolutely can’t walk past a second hand bookshop without a browse.  This week I picked up a copy of ‘Laura Ashley Bedrooms’ published in 1987.  Purchased for research into Laura Thomas Linens stock and for inspiration.  The book however has done more than that.  It taught me about the history of the bedroom. 

(Photography / Laura Thomas)

The bedroom was preceded by the bedchamber, which was preceded by the chamber (Great or otherwise), which was preceded by the bower which alternated, in most households, with a sleeping arrangement that was so basic it was a life of never ending camping.

 In the Dark Ages of the UK Anglo-Saxons lived by day and night in a hall similar to above.  The Lord and Lady retired to a bower, a wooden hut entirely separate for the Hall.  Blankets and sheets were usually coarse cloth like fustian or hemp.

(image via unexplained-mysteries.com)

The Ancient Egyptians slept on a bed that they were also to be buried on.  More emphasis was on the foot board than the head board thought to encroach on the seat of the soul.

(Lessing Photo Archive)

The development of chimneys in the fourteen century brought privacy as well as warmth to the better-off members of the household, who now began to sleep in ‘chambers’.  They didn’t however sleep there alone. The medieval habit of bedding down with 2 or more family members was common.

 (image via tumblr.com)

Above is a fifteenth century ‘chamber’ at Burg Eltz Castle, Germany.  Medieval structures often lacked hallways as we think of them.  One room led
through to another room.  People (guests, servants,
children) might walk through one’s chamber to get somewhere else.  Hence curtains for privacy and warmth.

Sixteenth and seventeenth century, a nightgown was to be worn.  Women wore the linen smocks or chemises that were part of their underclothes, while men wore night shirts of linen.  Both were often embroidered.

(image via pinterest.com)

After the heavily carved posts and foot and headboards of the 15 & 1600’s the bed gradually assumed its classic seventeenth century shape of a box, completely soaked in cloth.  The wealthy used the likes of velvet and feathers where as the poor used painted cloth.  The bedchamber was still very spartan with little in the way of furniture.

The eighteen century decoration of the bedchamber was now effected by fabrics, upholstery and later wallpaper.  Decorative schemes could be changed and often were.  This was the age of swags, bows, ribbons, garlands and puffs of silk as well as the fashion of Rococo bedchambers (Rococo was an 18C artistic moment originating in France often involving witty themes).

(image via truis.com)

Decorative litter sums up the the look of early nineteen century room.  The bedchamber now became a bedroom and was a private retreat, filled with personal memorabilia.  It was cosy and intimate.   A place were one would retire to write letters and relax.  The style saw Gothic bedrooms, neo-Renaissance bedrooms, pseudo-Baroque and Rococo.

(image via artisticlicense.org)

Mid nineteen century bedrooms saw a move away from dark interior colours.

(image via inhometrend.com)

Fast forward to the present day and the bedroom is a simple room where the emphasis is on comfort.  Pillows, duvets, blankets and bed linen are less elaborate than the bygone era of rich embroidery and velvet.  Details are more minimalist.  With the fast pace of life we have today bedrooms are where one literally ‘falls’ into bed.  Deep comfort is the key.

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