Traditional pleated bed draperies allowed interior designer Denise Macy to think outside the box when arranging furniture in her Chicago home’s master bedroom. Instead of backing up the bed to a wall, she floated it in the middle of the room, then framed it with drapery panels fabricated from a sophisticated Nancy Corzine fabric in a subtle solid hue.

It’s hard to imagine more dramatic bed curtains than those that flow from an extra-tall ceiling all the way to floor. It’s also hard to imagine a bed tall enough to allow that. Interior designer Paul Corrie circumvented the problem by designing a custom bed and custom canopy frame as two separate pieces. To support the canopy, he engineered distinctive iron rods that are mounted to the ceiling to hold billowy white linen bed curtains that puddle onto the floor. The taller the ceiling, the more dramatic the effect.

A tufted white headboard gains height and dramatic impact with a backdrop of blue bed drapes. The bed curtain treatment also includes a tailored blue-and-white checked valance and side panels in the same check pattern. A round gold mirror centered on the blue drapery above the bed adds yet more depth to the layered design.

When a big bed poses a big decorating dilemma, a drapery backdrop may be the solution. The large scale of this gorgeous white-painted mahogany four-poster canopy bed from EJ Victor is easily integrated into the room by swathing the wall behind it entirely in white draperies. The fabric panels remove the need to hang art or accessories on the wall, which would be challenging given the bed’s size. They also soften the impact of the bed’s strong lines.

A little girl’s bedroom becomes the fodder for a fairy tale with a daybed’s dramatic canopy. In the style of a window treatment, a deep valance anchors the drapery. A pair of neutral panels plunge from the valance to either end of the daybed, while a zebra-pattern fabric as backdrop injects a modern element to the ultra-feminine lavender-painted bedroom.

A traditional four-poster ivory-painted chinoiserie-style tester bed from Mary McDonald, Inc., is a visual feast with open fretwork, faux bamboo in bas relief, and pagoda-style finials. A casual canopy and back curtain take the high style down a degree. Solid blue cotton curtains behind the headboard, plus shapely ivory valances repeated in blue on the inner curtains, bring beach-house informality to the stately bed.

Traditional bed draperies need not be an exercise in opulence. As this Dallas design shows, even the most tailored tastes can enjoy the cocooning comforts of a canopy bed. This streamlined guest room canopy is less about free-flowing fabrics and an abundance of ornament than it is sophistication and a clean style. The Coraggio Textiles sheer canopy is pulled taut so it appears almost invisible.

The traditional drapery behind this custom headboard not only dresses up a blank wall and dramatizes the bed, but it also weaves together the pair of windows that flank the bed. The valanced drapery, which makes the bed a focal point, creates the illusion of a wide middle window that bridges the narrower windows on either side.

Embellishing the bed with curtains can result in a light-hearted look that’s appropriate for the most casual of traditional bedrooms. The operative words are restraint and palette. This cool blue-and-beige bed drapery displays the colors of surf and sand. The panels fall straight to the sides of the bed, sans fancy tie-backs.

A low-slung green velvet headboard is elevated literally and stylistically with a behind-the-bed corona that drops from the ceiling. The treatment begins with a pinch-pleat floral valance trimmed in fringe. A green fabric that matches the velvet headboard drapes down from the valance to span the width of the bed. The result: the bed commands the entire wall behind it.

Luxury and pampering were the decorating goals for this guest room in the 2011 Lake Forest Showcase House in Illinois. Tone-on-tone layers of wool damask and silk on the dramatic behind-the-bed drapery exemplify the room’s easy elegance.

For a bed with African inspiration, what better place to look than one of the best-designed tented camps-cum-hotels in Tanzania? Mosquito netting drops down from a ceiling-mounted corona to cloak a canopy frame just a little larger than the bed. When the curtains aren’t closed, they tie back at the corners. Curtains at the foot of the bed overlap at the middle for appealing symmetry. White bed linens keep the design clean and sumptuous.

Traditional design spans a range of styles from formal and fine to casual and comfortable. Casual finery is also part of the traditional lexicon, and nothing illustrates it better than the earthy-hue woven “Aegean Stripe” Cowtan & Tout bed curtains in this master bedroom. They announce quality in a casual manner.

Interior design: Mark Williams

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Dramatic Bed Canopies and Draperies

Turn a modest bed into a fabulous focal point

Written by Candace Ord Manroe
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See more inspirational bedroom decorating ideas. Take a look at our presentation of Serene Bedrooms.

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