Bedhead


The Chinoiserie linen I chose for our headboard. Photo by Barbara Clare

It's taken me 10 years to get our bedroom pulled together.


Before my husband Ray and I moved from Los Angeles to North Carolina, I was in search of a bed frame for us.


I knew exactly what I wanted: a straightforward wooden frame connected to a rectangular upholstered headboard that would give us comfy support for reading. You'd think this item would be easy to find, but at the time, there were no such bed frames in LA.


I searched and searched. No go. That is, until right before our move to North Carolina, a new furniture shop opened near us. They carried the exact bed I'd been looking for. We ordered the bed, praying that it would arrive in time for our move. Just in the nick of time it did.


The original sage, brushed cotton fabric for our headboard. Photo by Barbara Clare

Everything about the bed was perfect except for the headboard fabric. I had to compromise on that. Since the company was new, they had few upholstery fabric choices and none was quite right for us. I found a sturdy, brushed cotton in sage at a local fabric store and had the headboard upholstered in it.


I had really wanted a nubby, mid-tone gray fabric that would allow me to have a wide range of bedding and wall color choices, but I couldn't find it. "Surely," I told myself, "I'll find such fabric in the future and have a slipcover made for the headboard."


A few years after we moved to North Carolina, I started looking for the fabric. I looked and looked, but alas, no nubby gray fabric availed itself. In the meantime, our bedroom was not making me happy. Dull sage headboard fabric and a room adorned with only black and white art was not this colorist's dream.


One day, I was rummaging through a closet and I pulled out a gorgeous, emerald green Italian brocade upholstery fabric that I had bought on a remnant table, figuring that some day I'd find a use for it. Throwing the brocade across our headboard, I asked my husband what he thought of using it for our headboard cover. Ray is an artist with a trained eye, so I value his input on such matters. His take: it was too dark, too heavy, and its colors would limit our choices for bed linens. Sigh. He was right.


I had also grabbed a piece of Chinoiserie* linen that my friend Lucy had given me. She had originally bought it for herself, but soon realized it didn't suit her place. She gave it to me saying, "This fabric is more you." She was right, I loved it. Someday, I'd have a pillow cover made with it.


The Chinoiserie linen was an epiphany. The moment it graced the headboard our bedroom woke up. The room vibrated with a whole new energy. "Wow," I thought, "This is IT." The fabric's design had unusual complexity and depth as well as many colors. Finding bedding to coordinate with it wouldn't be a problem. Ray's immediate take: "It works."


I would need more of the fabric to have a slipcover made. I knew where Lucy had purchased it, so I sped to the store to get more. Turns out, it was a discontinued fabric and they had sold all of it. ARGH.


After so many years of searching for the right headboard fabric, I was determined to find it. I hit the web, and voila! I found the linen on Etsy. After 10 years of searching, I had my fabric!


Our bedroom BEFORE the periwinkle wall. Photo by Barbara Clare

While my headboard cover was being made, my brother and his wife were setting up a new home nearby. In the process, they realized they didn't have use for two tall terra cotta-colored metal lamps they had inherited from our mom. I was happy to scoop them up!


Not only was terra cotta one of the hues in the linen, their tall height meant that we'd have ample light for reading in bed. I had them restored, buffed up the brass, and bought new lampshades. Pagoda shades, of course!


Ta-dah! Our bedroom with periwinkle wall, Chinoiserie headboard, new bedding and terra cotta lamps, finally pulled together. Photo by Barbara Clare

I knew the terra cotta lamps would pop if I painted the wall behind the bed a mid-tone color. I decided on a complementary color to the terra cotta, periwinkle blue.


Pulling blues and a bark tone from the fabric, I found luxurious Italian Sferra sheets in a dustier version of the periwinkle at, of all places, Tuesday Morning, and purchased a duvet cover from Pottery Barn that is both the color and texture of bark.


In my mind, our bed is floating against the sky now.

Hokusai Katsushika,** View of Mt. Fuji from the Tokaido Highway. Photo by Barbara Clare
Prints from the series by Hiroshige,*** "Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido". Photo by Barbara Clare

Finally, I moved out the black and white art and brought in colorful Japanese woodblock prints.


Now color abounds in our bedroom and this colorist sleeps with a smile on her face.




* Chinoiserie: "in the Chinese style". The European interpretation and imitation of Chinese design, especially in the decorative arts.


**Hokusai Katsushika, (1760-1849), This print, capturing Sightseers and Revelers amid Cherry Trees in Bloom, is part of this artist's famed woodblock print series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1831), which includes the iconic and internationally recognized print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.


*** Utagawa Hiroshige, born Ando Hiroshige, (1797 - 1858), was a master color woodblock print artist. The four woodblock prints in our bedroom are reproductions from his famous landscape series, "Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido".

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