Choosing and styling a four poster bed – 5 top tips from interior designer Henriette von Stockhausen

A four poster bed is a huge investment and the focal point of a bedroom – VSP's Creative Director tells you how to perfect your decisions

Four poster beds
(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

'Historically four poster beds were a sign of wealth, and the richer the owner, the more elaborate the bed's hangings or carvings. There were many different styles – some early ones were like bunk cabins, on platforms and others only had side and back rails projecting from the walls. 

'The more over-the-top four posters could be dressed in the finest gold embroidered silks, trimmings and even adorned with precious stones,' says Henriette von Stockhausen.

Even if you are looking for more modest bedroom ideas, her advice is current.

'At VSP Interiors, we do a lot of four poster beds for clients – a good night’s rest being more important than ever in our fast-moving lives. Some four poster beds are more detailed, while others simpler and more contemporary – but in essence they all do the same thing, which is to create extra comfort and a sanctuary, a room within a room, really. 

'This is particularly relevant in country houses where rooms tend to be large and cavernous with high ceilings in which one could otherwise feel quite lost.'

Here, Henriette offers her expertise on choosing a four-poster bed – plus there are tips on how to style a bed.

1. Create coziness with deep interior colors

Four poster beds

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

'I personally like to compound the feeling of cosiness and comfort by using darker colors on the inside of the beds as it helps create that womb like experience and a feeling of security that one craves after a long day at work.

'One tip to keep the budget down is to choose a cheaper fabric for the inside as it needs a lot of meterage and choose the more expensive fabric on the outside where less is needed, especially if the bed only has back and side curtains at the head end.

'We always work with an expert curtain maker for the drapes as it is quite a complicated treatment and needs detailed knowledge to avoid costly mistakes!

See: Country bedroom ideas – bring charming rustic style to your master and guest bedrooms

2. Tailor the drapery to the room's proportions

Four poster beds

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

'Whether I use a full set of curtains to all sides or just at the head end depends on the size of the room and the client’s requirements. Sometimes I only use a half tester if for some reason the full four poster is not an option.'

3. Add character with antique fabrics

Four poster beds

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

'I adore using antique fabrics or bed hangings if possible, a nod to the historical four poster beds while preventing it from looking too newly done. Sometimes a tapestry hung on the interior back of the bed creates an extra special vintage effect – such as on the bed above.

See: Decorating with antiques – 5 top tips from designer Henriette von Stockhausen

4. Pick a four-poster style to reflect your scheme

Four poster beds

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

'We mainly custom-make our own range of four poster beds which can be made with elaborate carvings or in simple Georgian style – fully upholstered or bare, painted or lacquered, metal, mirror or wrapped in fabric – anything is possible really! 

'You can also find an amazing range by London-based company Beaudesert whose beds are exquisite. My personal favorite is the faux bamboo four poster and I have just specified their Lit a la Polonaise, an 18th century playful version with swooping drapes, making this one particularly romantic.'

5. Consider the ceiling treatment carefully

Four poster beds

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

'Pay special attention to the inner ceiling options. There are so many options and this is what you will be staring at when in bed so it’s important! 

See: Traditional bedroom ideas – classic ways to combine tradition, luxury and comfort

'You can have more traditional starburst and rosette ceilings or a more simple gathered linear treatment or, if even more contemporary, a flat upholstered ceiling with some trimmed detail works very well too.'

Henriette Von Stockhausen
Contributing Editor

Henriette studied at City & Guild of London Art Schools and gained a master’s degree at Sotheby’s Institute where she honed her appreciation and love for antique furniture and decorative design from 17th Century through to 20th Century. Henriette studied at the prestigious Inchbald School of Design. On graduating she gained experience with leading interior designers including Stephen Ryan who had been head of David Hicks Design. She also had a spell in theatre design which enabled her to indulge her more flamboyant side and made her realise just how much she relishes any challenge.