Town & Country (UK)

SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON… A bedroom favourite returns

Nostalgia at its loveliest, with an affectiona­te revival of the headboard


Few household furnishing­s divide opinion as decisively as the upholstere­d headboard. Loved by traditiona­lists, loathed by modernists, they are an instant signifier of your entire attitude to interior decoration. They exude comfort and decadence, and have done for centuries, whether in the boudoirs of the Regency belles who spent mornings lounging in bed, quaffing cups of hot chocolate, or those of Hollywood’s Golden Age starlets reclining in their negligees amid masses of pale-pink satin.

The last couple of years have seen an upsurge in the headboard’s popularity; along with the reappearan­ce of patterned wallpaper, colourful fabrics and gloss paint, they herald a move away from neutral palettes and Scandinavi­an minimalism. The interior decorator Kit Kemp has long been a champion of this bedroom staple, creating statement pieces that lend character and life to the many rooms of the 10 hotels that comprise the Firmdale Hotels empire.

‘Headboards add scale to a bedroom – they act as a centrepiec­e and allow you to show off a really beautiful fabric,’ says Kemp, who works with Chelsea Textiles and Fine Cell Work to produce hand-embroidere­d designs. ‘We often commission artists to craft special pieces – they treat the surface as they would a canvas. A headboard is the perfect excuse to be creative; you can use a found fabric, or even a remnant mounted onto black cloth.’

Kemp is so well known for her use of upholstere­d headboards that she has almost single-handedly popularise­d the trend. ‘We get customers ringing up saying that they want a “Kit Kemp-style” piece,’ says Laura Kelway-bamber, who founded the Headboard Workshop with her husband Euan six years ago. ‘Previously, they would choose a style to match the rest of their room, but recently that process seems to have reversed and people are looking for something that stands out.’

Kelway-bamber’s workshops are based in rural Wales, where everything is handmade by skilled craftsmen. Their customers tend to favour deep-buttoned classic models, although requests for patterned textiles are on the rise.

Another interior decorator with a long-standing appreciati­on of the headboard is Tara Craig, who launched Ensemblier in 2014, after realising that there were few places to buy shaped and custom-size versions in the UK. She drew on historic silhouette­s and invented her own designs, liaising with a network of upholstere­rs across the UK. Each headboard is constructe­d using traditiona­l methods, giving them a structure and springines­s that is built to last. The bulk of her trade comes from profession­al decorators such as Turner Pocock and Rita Konig, who like the bespoke options and high-quality finish.

‘Headboards are a piece of furniture in their own right,’ says Craig. ‘They make a good investment, as you can take them with you if you move house – simply unhook them from the wall or unbolt them from the bed. And a well-made headboard lasts for ever – they’re a bit like a sofa in that they can just be re-covered, while keeping the basic form.’

‘I feel that there’s so much hostility in the world at the moment that people are seeking comfort and softness in their own homes,’ Craig continues. ‘That slightly “granny” look with tassels and trims has come back around again. It’s the perennial situation where each generation hates their parents’ furniture but the successive one absolutely loves it.’

And while the bold fabrics and fantastica­l shapes of contempora­ry headboards feel very much of the moment, they also evoke the spirit of a different era, a sense of romance and a licence to dream. Kit Kemp (www.firmdaleho­ The Headboard Workshop (www.theheadboa­ Ensemblier (www.ensemblier­

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 ??  ?? above: a covent garden hotel room designed by kit kemp. below: kemp in her design studio
above: a covent garden hotel room designed by kit kemp. below: kemp in her design studio
 ??  ?? below, below right and opposite: headboards by ensemblier
below, below right and opposite: headboards by ensemblier

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