A canopy bed is a decorative bed somewhat similar to a four-poster bed. A typical canopy bed usually features posts at each of the four corners extending four feet high or more above the mattress. Ornate or decorative fabric is often draped across the upper space between the posts and a solid swath of cloth may create a ceiling, or canopy directly over the bed.
The canopy bed came into existence more for utilitarian means rather than for extravagance or decadence. Canopy beds with curtains that could completely enclose the bed were used by lords and noblemen in medieval Europe for warmth and privacy, as their attendants often slept in the same room. Until the 16th century, these beds, even those of the nobles, were fairly plain and understated. During this period, carved work on the headboard and posts became popular and more ornate canopy beds followed.
Today’s canopy beds generally fit into one of two categories: traditional or contemporary. Most of the traditional canopy beds have a Victorian aesthetic, with either metal rod frames or intricately carved wood frames and posts. These throwbacks also often feature ruffled, pleated elaborate draping, sometimes with rather heavy cloth. In contrast, contemporary canopy beds generally employ a simpler design. Wood, metal, or a combination of the two is used in the construction of modern canopy beds, which usually have little to no detail on the foot and headboards and often feature sharp, geometric designs.