Evolution is an interesting thing. We’ve watched as transportation segued from the horse and wagon to cars, buses, trains and planes. We’ve seen traveling troupes of entertainers turn into movies, television and Netflix. And let’s not even go into telecommunications. Tin cans on a string got nothing on cell phones! Looking at how people have morphed into living in multi-storied and multi-portioned structures from simple one-room log cabins is just as fascinating. How our decorating bedroom methods have evolved bears a look.
The Bare Necessities
In that one-room log cabin, the bedroom was often curtained off from the main room. It usually contained a bed constructed from split logs with cross-pieces. Atop that rested a straw-stuffed tick, scratchy wool blanket and, if the occupant was lucky, a feather pillow. Some poor unfortunate bear donated his furry hide as a rug on the floor.
As times got better or fortunes were made, beautifully carved heavy mahogany furniture was ordered from England and shipped to the new plantation house or town house. Instead of a bear rug, beautifully colored woven rugs graced wide-planked wood floors. Chests of drawers held clothing while cedar chests at the foot of the bed held extra blankets. The washstand stood by the fireplace. Pictures graced the walls and velvet curtains covered lace hangings at the windows. Bedroom décor had evolved from bare necessity to elegance.
The Early 20th Century
Show of hands: how many remember their great-grandparents’ Paul Bunyan bed? It was huge to small eyes, wasn’t it? You had to hold onto those posts the size of a tree trunk to climb up on it. It was covered with a cotton bedspread and throw pillows. But naps were so much better on that bed! Then you noticed your grandparents didn’t have a four-poster bed. They had a bed with a shelf and a portion behind a door that slid open and closed in the headboard. You used to put your treasures on the shelf before a nap and reclaim them when you woke up, ready for more adventures. All these wonderful beds, however, didn’t hold a candle to your parents’ waterbed later in the century. As long as the cat was kept off it, you could bounce around on that bed until kingdom come. Unless, of course, your parents found out about it and chased you out.
Bedroom walls have always held pictures. Some were of calming nature scenes while others were family portraits. Walls were usually white. At some point in time, though, color was discovered. Bedroom walls were suddenly pretty and soothing in color. Matching or contrasting bed linens and pillows were suddenly what everyone had to have. Comfortable chairs with pillows made putting on socks and drawing up boots much easier. The blanket chest at the foot of the bed now held silk sheet sets and satiny bed throws instead of scratchy wool blankets.
Now, pretty much anything goes. Wild colors, patterns and textures are combined to elicit an eye-catching reaction. Lighting fosters an ambient atmosphere while potted plants and waterfalls sit on the chest of drawers. Where pictures once hung on the walls is now built-ins, flush-mount fireplaces and nooks. Tray ceilings offer up exotic foliage, stars and moonlight or Elvis sitting at the counter of a diner having a burger with Bogie.
Bedrooms were designed to end our day in soothing comfort preparatory for sleep. The beds now have drawers in the base for linens, brass frames or wonderfully simple dark wood head and foot boards. They are graced with colored and textured throws of all colors for a relaxing aura. Walls painted in soothing colors often have one wall, called a focus wall, painted in a mural or with patterns. Houseplants that filter the air circulating in the room create an exotic, vacation-type feeling. Quite a stretch from a one-room log cabin isn’t it?