A bedroom is so much more than where we sleep. It is a place to calm ourselves in the evenings and prepare ourselves for what is to come the following day. It is a place for recharging and reflection. A place where we go to get away from the world and its stresses. A place to feel safe, comfortable and prepared, and it must provide all of these functions day after day. Over the centuries, we have created rituals for this space that indicate our special relationship to it.
Since this room serves a multitude of purposes, it needs the proper set of tools and pieces to do so. There are many types of furniture that traditionally belong in the bedroom, all created with a specific role or ritual in mind. Antique bedroom furniture pieces, from antique beds to antique armoires, represent a story and have a bedroom ritual associated with them. Read on to discover more about the room you spend so much time in!
Antique beds are a wonderful antique furniture piece to incorporate into your space. While it may be the obvious place to start, the titular bed is the centerpiece of a bedroom. One of the first rituals we are exposed to in life is “bedtime”. As children, our parents set and (tried to) enforce our bedtime, but children are inclined to resist and test boundaries. As a way to ease the transition from wakefulness to sleep, parents had to create this daily ritual so that kids came to expect it.
Bedtime can take many forms, but they all surround the bed itself. The most universal children's bedtime ritual is probably the act of being tucked in. Mom or dad carefully pull the covers up over their child as their heads rest on their pillows and tuck them around their sides, mimicking the comforting feeling of being swaddled as a baby and hopefully lulling them to sleep. Other bedtime rituals for children include reading or telling a story at the bedside or the classic of checking for monsters under the bed to ensure positive energy in the room for a good night's sleep.
Dressers and Armoires
The bedroom is the typical home for personal possessions. Whether this is cherished, sentimental memorabilia or more quotidian articles of clothing, one's dresser or armoire happily stores such items within the bedroom. As a result, our antique dressers and armoires speak to who we are as individuals. The objects stored within, an elegant hat, a love letter from the past, or a hand-knit scarf made by a friend, tell our stories. And when we take time seasonally to empty, sort, and organize the contents of these pieces of furniture, it allows us to reacquaint ourselves with special memories and appreciate the lives we lead.
A lady's bedroom historically has also served as a place to primp a little, whether it be for work, a social occasion, or even just preparing to go out into the world for the day. Vanities or dressing tables are essential parts of this ritual, especially in the era that this example is from in 19th century France. A lady would have sat in front of the mirror here to fix her hair and makeup stored within the vanity.
A woman's vanity would not be complete without her nécessaire, a container meant for holding everything a fashionable woman might need for her personal care and styling. The example below includes such necessities as horsehair brushes, scissors, tweezers, a mirror and even a corkscrew, among other items.
Bedrooms are often described as a sanctuary, so fittingly, it has also traditionally been a place for prayer and meditation. Think of images of children kneeling beside their bed to say their nightly prayers. In times past, this was sometimes a more formal concept that involved its very own piece of furniture. Called a prayer bench or a prie dieu, these were made for use during devotion and included a kneeling surface and an upright front with a rest for books or elbows bent in prayer. These could be found in churches, but were primarily used for private devotionals in the home, and they were often found in the bedroom.
Leisure in the Bedroom
In past centuries, the bedroom also often also served as living space to partake in leisurely activities such as needlework, catching up on correspondence, or reading. There were even chairs designed specifically to sit in while reading. They would feature a high, wide back constructed in a way that it was comfortable for the reader to sit backwards. They would then be able to comfortably rest their arms on the padded chair back. Our selection of antique chairs features some antique reading chairs similar to this chair from 1850.
In the second half of the 19th century, the cave à liqueur, or liqueur caddy, were very popular accessories to have in the home. They were typically handsome wooden containers that held cordial glasses and decanters that you could fill with your favorite spirits. Their small size in comparison to a liquor cabinet meant that they were perfect for spaces other than the parlor or dining room, such as the bedroom, meaning a nightcap was within arm's reach.