Two weeks ago, I pulled out my tape measure mid-meeting (as one does) and then asked Emily a question: would you do a canopy bed in an apartment with 8′ ceilings? I don’t actually remember her answer – it was a “maybe” or “it depends” or “I love the amount of space I have at the Mountain House and think that would make me feel crushed in” but whatever it was, it was not an unequivocal yes, which was what I NEEDED to feel confident in my decision.
Because guys, I want a canopy bed like Violet wants a chocolate factory and well…tragically, my current bedroom will never look like the one in the Portland House, seeing as I live in a regular apartment with an inconveniently-placed mini-split AC unit and 101″ ceilings (a little over 8′ – photos below) instead of inside an Emily Henderson-designed house in the Pacific Northwest. Now, I wanted to sway Em’s opinion a little bit, so I spent a tiny lifetime scouring the internet, started a post about the secret sauce, and then forced said boss to come write part of it because that’s what good employees do. (I am just kidding, do not leave an empty space in your work and then write “BOSS WRITE” on it. That is only okay in blogging.) To that end, I wanted to toss the keyboard to Em…
From Emily: I didn’t have a working theory about canopies before Caitlin asked me, but upon instinct I felt confident that they needed to be in taller rooms. It’s common sense scale – big beds need big rooms. I remember sleeping in the canopy bed in the Portland project when we were shooting there and it was AWESOME, but if the ceilings had been lower I think that I would have felt a bit claustrophobic. No real way to know as I don’t think I’ve slept in a low ceilinged canopy bed room, but going into the post I felt SURE that I was right. Canopy beds need higher ceilings. So, dear Caitlin, prove your boss wrong why don’t you???!!! (Caitlin note: This is what arguing at EHD is like. What a dream!!!)
I hear this. NOTED. And at the end of the day, Em was right – canopies aren’t for *every* standard-height bedroom, but they can work in ANY bedroom if given a little thought and love. (CUTE, right?) But when it comes to my bedroom, here’s what I’m actually working with… (These are pictures from the listing and from move-in day so please don’t look at this and be like, “THIS IS A PERSON THAT GIVES OUT DESIGN ADVICE?”)
So, yeah. It’s…fine. Average. But it’s also huge, super long, and pretty thin – 16′ wide by 11′ deep – with its fair share of design agonies. When Emily Bowser came over last week, the first words out of her mouth were, “why do you have the world’s biggest bedroom with the world’s tiniest bed in here?” And guys, SHE’S RIGHT. After 9 years with my full bed and IKEA frame, I’m finally in the process of upgrading to a king bed – just ordered this one after reading a glowing review on this post (your recommendations go a long way with this gal!) – but the room is so big that I feel like it deserves a statement bed frame, too.
8 FOOT CEILINGS BE DARNED, we’re going to find a way to make this work. To quote Leslie Knope: “I have the most valuable currency in America: a blind, stubborn belief that I’m 100% right.” Emily definitely has the design know-how but I have internet access, a Pinterest account, and an obsession with figuring out what makes things work. Let’s dive in, yeah?
Spice Up The Ceiling
“But I don’t want to spice up my ceiling!” – that’s okay! If you’d rather leave it untouched, we still have lots of options and eye candy and design inspiration for you below. But if you are feeling like taking a paintbrush to your fifth wall or getting into a screaming fight with your partner about how to best hang peel & stick on a horizontal surface above your heads, these are for you…
WOAH, HELLO. If you weren’t awake already, this hotel room probably did the trick. But if you’re like “oh wow this is uh, maybe like, a little too much for me,” you’re not alone – Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the designer, had this to say: “Nobody is going to want to live in Mata Hari’s bedroom for the rest of their life, but they do want to spend three or four days feeling like they’re living on their own movie set.”And no offense – I know he designed it and knows what he’s talking about – but like, AU CONTRAIRE, MON FRERE. I’ll move in forever right now!!! This room has my maximalist-loving heart’s three favorite things (leopard, lucite, and lacquer) and it’s the space I keep coming back to as I attempt to design my own bedroom. (PS. Check out how minimal the styling is, too. The pillows are so simple and nary a tchotchke in sight??? ::chef’s kiss::)
Back to canopies, though: it can be easy for a tall bed to look kind of weird and wrongly-sized in a room with regular ceilings – I’m saying this as someone who spent the past two weeks looking at thousands of photos (not joking) of rooms with canopy beds – but when you actually do something to your ceiling, it makes the bed feel purposeful and considered and finished. Like, “YES, I did need this big bed in here, how else would you know to CHECK OUT MY COOL CEILING?”
Kelly Wearstler agrees, so you know we’re on to something here. IMO, though, the real coup in this room is the scale – every piece in this shot is just the perfect size to fit into this little alcove and the canopy runs parallel with the two ceiling beams – it’s so special and elevated when the furniture can echo the architecture of a space. A regular headboard in this room would feel kind of dinky and sad (especially next to those substantial chests and huge lamps!) while a white ceiling would make it feel flat and unfinished, so it’s kinda nice that every component of the room needs each other 🙂 (Also, just as a fun fact: this is Cameron Diaz’s Manhattan apartment!)
Not one, but two wallpapers! OK, I SEE YOU. This one is super interesting for your eye as there’s no moulding to separate the walls from the ceiling. It makes the room seem SO tall, right? The curtains here are key, though – they’re doing a great job of bringing together the warm taupe/tan/gray from the wallpapers and the cool gray/navy/black from the rug and bedding (make a mental note, because we’re going to come back to this whole “light on top and dark on the bottom” thing a little later). Also a huge fan of the cord swagging on the lighting here – the random placement in and out of the bed makes the whole setup feel a little less precious (plus, it’s swagging is one of our favorite trends of 2021, so that’s neat).
If you’re like, “hey, this kind of reminds me of the first room,” YOU’RE RIGHT. I’m just on a huge MLB kick right now, you know? The screens behind the bed are a great alternative to wallpaper and I mean…you know how I feel about lucite. The reflective ceiling is a nice modern alternative to hanging an actual mirror up there – this whole space is a little 70s, a little retro, a little glam, and just so SUMPTUOUS. It’s also in Palm Springs, which kind of explains the excess. It’s kind of cool to design a home to be period- or geographically-appropriate, right?
Ah, yes. Onwards to some paint ideas! I love these photos side-by-side because we’re looking at two VERY different takes on baby blue. On the left, I love how it pops against the antelope-print wallpaper and makes the ceilings seem sky high without feeling too unnatural or overbearing. (I remember once reading a Beata Heuman interview where she said she loved painting ceilings blue because you don’t really notice it and it makes the room feel tall – she’s on to something, guys!!) On the right, though, we see some super-sweet baby blue wallpaper that’s really anchored by the bold, black ceiling. Can you imagine how serene it must be in there at night?
Two tray ceilings, two canopy beds, two different approaches. LET’S TALK ABOUT IT. I love the choice to go bold on the left – it adds a lot of depth to that recessed space and makes the ceiling seem even higher! But I’m also a fan of the all-white tray ceiling on the right – my mom’s room has a similar layout and it’s always nice that her canopy bed draws your eye up to notice the architecture 🙂
Paneling: Not Just For Your Walls
Well…this is just freakin’ lovely, isn’t it? The room kind of reminds me of the Palm Springs house above in that if you jumped out of a dark alley and were like “TELL ME WHERE THIS IS OR I’M GOING TO TAKE YOUR WALLET,” I would be like “well, this is a weirdly specific scheme, but this room is obviously in Nashville.” I’m a huge fan of the semi-gloss painted ceiling, but I’m an even BIGGER fan of the petite size of this bed frame – it’s the perfect way to bring in a canopy bed without it feeling too tall or imposing.
TWO FULL CANOPIES. IN ONE ROOM. Brilliant. You know this room must have been a total design agony to start – windows close together? Check. Windows of different sizes on every wall? Check. Blank wall space and a place where a bed really makes sense? No, sir! But I love the decision to eschew a low-framed king bed and instead place two canopy beds side by side. Two plain full beds would have felt cramped in this space, but the canopy (plus the shape of the ceiling) makes them feel really intentional. Most importantly, though – this just seems like a FUN place to stay. What else could you ask for from a guest room?
Nothing says “foolproof” like a sturdy black canopy bed under some fresh white wooden paneling (I swear it’s underneath the beams on the left!). This is such a great solution for folks who find themselves drawn to calmer, more neutral bedroom spaces – the ceiling brings in an added layer of texture and the bed is like “HEY DIPPY, LOOK UP HERE, there’s something cool going on!!!” It’s like a flashing arrow pointing to good design chops without an actual flashing arrow (because that would be a no-go in such a restful space, you know?).
Think Beyond Just Paint
I’m normally not a big accent wall kind of gal, but I really like them in front of statement bed. I *thiiink* it’s just because that combo means that wall is the only place my eye is really drawn to (did you notice the left wall was painted instead of papered?). The height on this bed is really interesting, too – it’s below the door frame, which would make it 6’8″ or 6’9″ (a little above 80″ – at least in my house, where I just measured two door frames to verify measurements). The shorter size gives nearly TWO FEET of breathing room above the bed, which looks even bigger when it’s backed by a wallpaper motif.
I love these two for one big reason (and it’s not the chrome beds, shockingly): the embrace of architectural features. I know that design-wise, these rooms are SUPER different from the Wearstler room earlier, but I’m just really taken by the wallpapered beam on the left and the super thick cream-colored crown moulding on the right. I don’t know if I would have clocked either feature at first if not for an enormous shining arrow pointing straight towards them and both say SO much about the room’s inhabitant.
Well aren’t these just straight outta my dreams!!! I’ve pinned both of these SO many times over the past few years and now that they’re side by side, I can see the similarities in color palette, pattern (palm prints and animal prints are basically neutral), and quirk (does that end table next to the chair on the right kind of remind you of the lamp on the left?). But most importantly, I see the similarity in bed size!! Two beds basically kissing the ceiling and I never even thought to notice because I was so excited by everything else going on. (These also make a surprisingly strong case for the accent wall + canopy combo – I never even noticed that the whole room wasn’t covered.)
I don’t have much to say here other than I LOVE THIS and had to show someone!!! Talk about “if you’re not going all the way, why go at all?” turned up to ELEVEN. This room was designed for a show house in 2019 and I gotta know – could you live here? I think I could if we were in a bright and sunny place, but it would drive me nuts if I weren’t driving distance from the beach. LET ME KNOW – I think this could be a litmus test for something (not sure what yet).
Before we talk about anything else – I pulled the image on the left from the FLOR website. The carpet tile website, you guys! Everyone else needs to step up their site merchandising because this shot BLEW. MY. MIND. Anyway. I’ll always be a sucker for wall moulding as every time I see it, my brain instantly goes “oh, this was a design choice and this person knows what they’re doing.” It’s funny that while the ceilings are white and the rooms are the same color all around, these canopies feel much more intentional when they’re in front of something like moulding – it just seems like the whole space was ~designed~, you know? Imagine each of these sans-moulding – they’d just look a little flatter and less special.
Play With Shape and Scale
It’s fun to see a canopy pushed against a wall! The canopy on this one brings such a nice symmetry that negates the little height difference between the top and bottom and makes it seem more like a daybed. And that photo on the right is such a classic – something about this shade of blue and orange kind of takes you back to the early days of design blogs, right? Like, I think I came up aspiring to be the type of person who lived in that room. (Fun fact: this shot was included in a 2016 book by Christiane Lemieux, who founded The Inside!) I also just love how *finished* these shapes make the beds feel as a whole – I covered up the tops of both beds with my hand and was blown away by the difference that such tiny details can make. Give it a try 🙂
Oh me, oh my! I have a feeling that we’ll have some fun chats about this one down in the comments – I’m OBSESSED with this canopy, guys. We’ve taken an über-traditional bedroom and then *right* at the very tippy-top, the whole notion kind of gets turned on its head. How fun are those scallops??? I know we see that shape a lot hanging down in traditional cloth canopy beds, but it’s so fun and special seeing it sitting on top of the bed like a little crown. I wonder if I could DIY something similar with a vintage 4 poster bed?
Well isn’t this just a full combination of all the things we’ve talked about? We’ve got a fun bed frame shape – almost a necessity so those posts don’t bang into the wall – AND we’ve got floor-to-ceiling all-over wallpaper. The classic motifs (hello, florals, hello stripes) and hyper-restricted color palette keep it feeling soft and fresh while those beds add just the right amount of quirk and height. BIG FAN.
Extra tall beds are SO GOOD, folks. Color me surprised – I never would have guessed before hunting down all these rooms! In case I haven’t said it enough, the real key to making a canopy bed work in a regular room is just making it feel deliberate and NOTHING makes it feel more deliberate than a bed that’s inches away from kissing the ceiling. Instead of looking crowded (what I would have anticipated), it actually looks really bespoke and high-end. BRB on the hunt for a 94-98″ bed, see you in a bit!!!
A quick little digital resting point for my calm bedroom lovers 🙂 I think this is a nice example of how to modernize traditional pieces. It honors the intent (a canopy bed absolutely belongs in a room like this) but adds a little spice (that dual-tone bedframe) in a way that’s updated but still neutral. Also very into how the top portion of the bed seems to match the moulding + ceiling + picture frames on the right. So polished and beautiful 🙂
Obsessed that the bed on the left feels bold and graphic while the one on the right feels light and airy. Same idea, wildly different execution. NEAT!! I was also so busy taking in these multicolored beds that I had no idea how tall either ceiling is, which is cool (and kind of the point of the post). My favorite thing about the photo on the left, though, is that if this had *just* been a big black bed in the middle of this room, you woulda been like “uh, why did they get such a heavy bed?” Instead, though, the canopy lightens the whole look and brings such a nice balance. It’s wild how something so simple can make a difference in perception!
Okay, okay, you caught me. THIS IS A TALL ROOM. But I just wanted to say that the half-and-half idea doesn’t just have to apply to the bed frame – you can make it work with some wall treatments, too. There’s something really serene about packing all your furnishings and a ton of classic color and pattern into a defined space and then letting your ceilings breathe – it simultaneously feels timeless AND fresh. (This home is in Italy and it belongs to an art historian, so like…of COURSE he nailed that balance.)
Pick Some Statement Flooring
I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but we’ve seen some big statement flooring choices throughout this whole post – wall-to-wall leopard carpet, so many hides, 3 chevron floors, and that gorgeous tile above – but MAN, this silk chartreuse carpet kinda takes the cake for me. The rest of the room is so quiet and lovely (I’m really loving the bed styling, are you??) and that paint texture is just sublime, but that bold color on the floor takes it from “beautiful” to “magazine-worthy.”
This brings us to the end, and our thoughts are this: CANOPIES FOR ALL. It may take a little extra time and consideration in rooms with standard 8′ ceilings but MAN, the design impact:cost ratio is HIGH. I’m finally feeling excited to take on my bedroom and y’all know I’ll be sleeping in something lucite and/or shiny by the end of the year. All the inspo I needed is right here 🙂 Now, what say you??? Would you canopy in any room?