Why Do You Need a Headboard? History, Uses, and Alternatives
Ever since its invention in Ancient Egypt, the headboard has been installed both for functional and decorative purposes. The design trends may have changed over the centuries but the general look of the headboard as well as the reasons behind its installation remain the same. So, why do you need a headboard?
In the past, you needed a headboard to regulate room temperature and protect sleepers from drafts. With modern insulation techniques, now you need a headboard as a stylish and decorative centerpiece for your bedroom, or as a comfortable support to prop up your pillows while reading or watching TV.
What Is a Headboard?
The headboard is a decorative and functional piece of furniture designed to be installed at the top of your bed.
If you go into your local furniture store, you’re likely to find an assortment of designs from carved wooden pieces to headboards covered in soft fabric. The design of the headboard is only limited to the imagination of the craftsman or artist – which means there is literally no limit to the variation of headboards available.
Generally, you can think of the headboard as a mounted piece of artwork that’s separate from the bed but is also complementary to it in both aesthetics and function. The size will vary widely but generally it’s going to be at least as wide as the bed. Depending on the available space and the overall look you are going for, the headboard can extend all the way up to the ceiling or only a few inches above the mattress. You have to remember, that when it comes to headboards, as with anything decorative, there really are no hard and fast rules – but it’s also good to bear in mind that there may be some guidelines that are good to follow in order to evoke a certain kind of look or theme.
Most headboards are rectangular or arched, but this too will be subject to the imagination of the artist or the preferences of the bedroom owner. You can either opt for a simple headboard or go for one that’s ornate, regal or intricate.
Whatever the type of headboard you choose, they add beauty and design to bedrooms that might otherwise appear plain. With that said however, there are still plenty of creative ways to “frame” your bed without utilizing a headboard.
- How do you choose the right headboard size using a size chart?
- Even oddly shaped beds like trundle beds can benefit from headboards
- How do headboards work?
- How to attach a headboard - a step-by-step guide
History of Headboards
It’s no surprise that something so lavish comes from the time and the place of the pharaohs. In ancient Egypt, royal beds had headboards. They were typically made out of precious metals like gold and silver, or luxurious woods like ebony. Aside from their practical use of keeping drafts away, these ancient headboards of the pharaohs were a show of affluence. They were made to be as extravagant as possible, perhaps to match the glamor and luxury of the lives of the Egyptian royalty.
In the time of the Ancient Greeks, the headboard became a practical part of what was essentially their bed – a wooden platform with a headboard. This upward protrusion of wood at the head part of the bed served its purpose of keeping the cold away since wood insulates from the cold. Another reason why the headboard was in common use in Greece at those times was because during the day, the platform bed with headboard became sort of like the living room furniture they use to eat, drink or even entertain guests.
During the middle ages, the world was introduced to the canopy bed. In contrast to how social the bedroom was with the Greeks, during the Middle Ages the bedroom became much more private. The headboard both served as a decorative piece as well as a functional part of the bed that helped shield the person lying in bed from the cold.
With the rise of insulated walls and rooms, also came the rise of artistic innovation. In the 19th century, bed frames started to be made overwhelmingly of iron which ended when all iron had to be utilized in relation to each country’s war efforts in WWI.
Today, modern headboards can look like anything, consist of just about any type of material available and serve whatever purpose you may want.
Reasons Why You Need a Headboard
There are a few reasons why you need a headboard. Some may apply to you and some may not. If you’re convinced, maybe you’re now ready to read our guide to choosing a headboard. Do you already have a headboard that you don't use because it's too short for your bed? Take a look at how to raise the height of a headboard for some ideas.
Reasons why you need a headboard include:
The Headboard Keeps the Cold Away
One of the main reasons why the headboard was developed in ancient times was to help the person in bed stay warm and toasty at night. The headboard was traditionally made of wood, and served to insulate the sleepers from the cold. Now, even if you have a relatively well-insulated home, it’s still nice having the added level of insulation provided by the headboard – at least this is the case with headboards with a wooden, tufted or stuffed component.
The Headboard Frames the Bed and Completes the Look
There is little doubt that one of the main visual components inside the bedroom is the bed. Without a headboard, the bedroom may lack an important decorative centerpiece. In order for you to effectively frame the bed, you need to have a headboard that will bring everything together aesthetically. You can build on the overall decorative theme for your bedroom or choose to go with specific concepts and design ideas that will stand out.
The Headboard Acts as a Backrest
Another functional reason why you need a headboard is that it provides a sturdy and comfortable back rest for when you want to sit up in bed. You can lean back on the head board itself or you may prop up your pillows against the headboard so that you can comfortably sit up in bed, well supported. In this position, you can read, watch TV, eat, use your laptop or even be active with your partner.
- Consider using a headboard as an accessory on the top bunk of a bunk bed to provide a backrest for reading.
- What if your headboard wobbles, squeaks, or bangs against the wall? Can you fix it?
The Headboard Keeps Your Wall Smudge-free
The last reason why you may want to use a headboard has to do with cleanliness. The human body excretes oil and sweat from the head, that’s why your pillows and pillow cases get stained after a while of use. Without a headboard in place, sweat and oil may inadvertently come into direct contact with the wall, possibly ruining the finish. Prevent this with the use of a headboard.
- Headboards are a great way to dress up a platform bed as well
Can You Use Large Pillows or Body Pillows Instead of a Headboard
The Pros and Cons of Using Large Pillows or Body Pillows as a Headboard:
In a Made Bed
Yes, you can use large pillows and body pillows when you’re making your bed to create the illusion of there being a headboard. To an extent, your made up bed with the pillows propped up against the wall will reduce the empty wall space in the background which may add to the appeal of the room, but the result you get will still pale in comparison to getting a real headboard.
While You’re Sleeping in Bed
No, you cannot use large pillows or body pillows instead of a headboard as a functional “headboard” while you’re sleeping, because pillows are not designed to be firm and unyielding -- they are fluffy and can be compressed (unlike a headboard).
Ofcourse, you are certainly free to do so. It could even serve to insulate you from the cold, but it may prove to be a little uncomfortable. Firstly, pillows were not designed to be headboards. Most pillows are fluffy and thick, which means that using them as improvised headboards may reduce the space of your bed by a few inches. Even if you’re okay with this, you don’t necessarily get the aesthetic bonus of having an actual head board in place.
How Does a Headboard Affect Feng Shui? Do You Need a Headboard for Feng Shui?
Feng Shui is the art of arranging everything in your home to help you harmonize with the unseen forces of positive and negative energies that influence your lives. From the perspective of Feng Shui, the headboard is a source of positive energy since it provides protection and support.
While you don’t need a headboard for feng shui, it will help support your room feng shui. Headboards are amazing additions to help your guests feel comfortable in their guest bedroom as well. Here’s how it helps:
Choosing the material of the Headboard for Feng Shui
The first thing that must be considered with the headboard feng shui is the material it’s made of. The best head boards that improve the flow of positive energy inside the bedroom are made of wood or are cushioned and upholstered. The wooden element is always a welcome addition in terms of feng shui because it provides support. Metal headboards are not considered good feng shui because metal is cold, thus evoking bad energy.
How headboard affect integrity Feng Shui
Design features that interrupt the integrity of the headboard like holes, bars, spindles, windows or shelves are seen as leaking positive energy and are best avoided. Bars and spindles also evoke the idea of prison and should be avoided since they leak positive energy out of the bedroom and trap negative energy in.
How to choose a headboard for Feng Shui Strength and Stability
Aside from the material that the headboard consists of, its strength and stability are factors that must be considered when designing a bedroom with good feng shui. A headboard that is flimsy leaks out positive energy as it is unable to provide sturdy support. A well made and sturdy headboard on the other hand brings in positive feng shui energy.
How Headboards affect Feng Shui Prominence
Another way that a headboard affects feng shui is its placement and its prominence in the bedroom. If the headboard serves to draw eyes in as a visual focal point of the entire room, then it also serves to focus positive feng shui energy in the room. If the headboard is just visually lost in the clutter, then it just adds only weak and scattered feng shui energy to the bedroom.
Placement of the Headboard with regard to Feng Shui
The placement should also be considered. The headboard should be positioned against a solid wall to fortify positive feng shui energy with strength and stable support and not placed over a window since this promotes instability and the leak of positive energy.
Headboard Feng Shui – Safety
Headboards that have storage or have things dangling or perched overhead are not advisable in feng shui since they represent physical danger, the opposite of protection and support, thereby evoking negative energy.
How Can You Frame a Bed Without a Headboard?
To creatively frame your bed without a headboard, you can:
Paint the empty wall behind the headboard to frame the bed without a headboard
You can paint the empty wall space behind your bed to serve as a focal point. You can go bold and modern with large simple shapes such as circles, rectangles or squares. Or you can paint more intricate shapes and pictures. If you are a big football fan, then you may want to have a giant football to frame your bed. If you are into graphical art, then you can paint a mural or graffiti. It all depends on your taste and the look and feel you want to achieve.
Mount a picture or painting which helps frame your bed
Because there is a lot of empty space behind your bed, you have the freedom to mount any picture or painting you may want. Remember, to always think about safety. So, if you are going to go with framed pictures or paintings, don’t use glass. If you want to protect your picture or painting with glass, then you should opt for something that doesn’t break such as plexiglass. Also, when mounting frames over your bed, they should be mounted extremely well. If it’s possible, you should reinforce the mounting to prevent them from accidentally coming loose from their hooks or wall mounts and falling on your face while you’re sound asleep.
Hang a rug or macrame over your bed to frame it
You can also hang a rug or macramé over your bed. These add a bohemian appeal to your entire bedroom. Just make sure to regularly vacuum whatever it is you choose to hang to ensure that they’re free of dust and allergens.
Use a Wallpaper to add contrast vs. the adjacent walls
You can also put up wallpaper behind your bed to add contrast to the adjacent walls. This will frame your bed nicely in lieu of a headboard. If you don’t want to go the full length of the wall, you can crop the wallpaper to any size or shape you want before gluing it to the wall.
You can also Display a Collectible behind your bed
If you own a collection you’re proud of that can be safely mounted, such as hats, then you can display them all over the wall behind your bed. The addition of several pieces of collectibles that have a central theme will add personality to your bedroom while at the same time perfectly framing your bed even if you don’t have a headboard.