bedroom design history interior design

History of the Bed

These days most everyone in developed countries sleep on beds and mattresses.  Thanks to our innovative ancestors we enjoy a comfortable night’s (or day’s) rest.

During the Neolithic period some 10,000 years ago, primitive man began to alter their nomadic ways and set up permanent housing.  These early humans developed primitive beds for sleeping by piling up leaves, palm fronds or animal skins for comfort.

Neolithic bed

In the Early Dynastic period around 3100 B.C.,  ancient Egyptians crafted simple wooden platforms to lift the bed several inches to avoid dirt and drafts, as well as pests like insects, snakes, mice, and rats. These beds frames would have had woven reeds across the bed frame to support a soft cushion made of wool.

Ancient Egyptian Bed
Gift of The Egyptian Research Account and British School of Archaeology in Egypt, 1912

Rich Greeks and Egyptians had elaborate beds carved in wood often embellished with gold, ebony, and jewels.  These beds also symbolized the owners social status since the more elite you were, the higher your bed.

Egyptian bed

During the 13th and 14th centuries, bed became very elaborate in wealthy homes Canopies were often suspended from the ceiling above the bed or built onto or around the bed on a frame called a tester. Fabric curtains were hung around the bed to provide additional warmth, privacy, and to protect sleepers from insects and unhealthy drafts.

Great Bed of Ware
Victoria & Albert Museum

While the poor would still have slept on straw mattresses on the floor, it became common for the rising middle class to sleep on mattresses made of feathers during the Renaissance period. These mattresses were placed on top of basic wooden structures with leather or rope lattices built into the frames to.  These strips of leather or rope stretched and sagged over time and had to be tightened periodically, thus coining the phrase “sleep tight.”

Rope bed

During the Renaissance, a style of bed which only had the tester and curtains at the head of the bed became popularized in France.   Owners tended to have either an elaborately carved bed frame or a light frame with elaborate hangings.

Catherine de' Medici's Rennaissance Bedroom
Château de Chenonceau

For the not so wealthy, important advances in the 1700’s began with the creation of iron bed frames with cotton-filled mattresses.  Disease was common and wooden beds often harbored bugs and insects.

Wrought Iron Bed

Although the modern innerspring mattresses was invented in 1871, it became mass produced and more affordable during the 1930’s.  Below is a typical scene at the Newberry County Mattress Project Center.

Newberry County Mattress
National Archives at College Park

Today one can choose to sleep on a myriad of options from water, air, space age foam to luxurious traditional mattresses.  Bed frames choices are virtually unlimited with a wide selection to fit every design style.

Swaim F1100 modern bed

Our fur friends have seen their own sleeping comfort expand through the years too!

Wicker Dog Bed

Mr. H says: Never take tomorrow to bed with you-Enjoy!

design history furniture

History of the Sofa

In many homes, the upholstered sofa is the central figure of the family or living room.  It’s the comfortable spot to relax, watch TV, or catch an afternoon nap.  We can’t imagine living in a space without one, but prior to its modern innovation in France during the late 1680s nothing like it existed. While lounging pieces could be found around the world, mostly for royal use, the general population sat on straight-backed wood chairs that could be ported to a dining table or near a warming fire.

Jacobean chair style

At the turn of the 18th Century, with the enrichment of a bourgeois working class, along with new found leisure time the desire for privacy and comfort increased.  It was at that time that padded furniture became an invitation to lounge.

18th Century sofa

During the advent of the industrial revolution, new furniture manufacturing processes evolved allowing for the mass production of most any item.  It was here that the modern sofa was born.

Late Victorian Sofa

Along with the invention of the sewing machine, the basic techniques developed nearly 200 years ago, are still in use today for the manufacturing of sofas.

Sofa construction

Other terms synonymous to a sofa are settee, chesterfield, divan, davenport, canape and a designer’s least favorite “couch”.   Styles today run the gamut from traditional and modern to even the very extreme.

Southwood Sofa
Swaim 413 sofa
Nina Edwards twisted sofa
Nea Studio

Even our dogs get to enjoy their naps on a comfortable sofa.

Dog sofa bed
BioMedic Modern Dog Sofa Bed

Mr. H says: There is nothing like being at home for real comfort-Enjoy!