Back to all articles

The History of Sleigh Beds

The sleigh bed got its start as part of the Empire style, a Neoclassical trend that became popular in the 1800s in France. The Empire style had a strong influence on both visual and decorative arts, including architecture and furniture. One of the most popular aspects of it was the Empire bed, which was inspired by the beds depicted in ancient Greco-Roman art. Napoleon reportedly fell in love with the style and ordered all of his beds to be made with the style’s characteristic curved, sweeping ends. With such a famous fan, the style exploded in popularity in France and then migrated to America, where the Greek Revival was at its height. The American version of the Empire bed featured plainer surfaces with a curved headboard and footboard and sometimes curved feet. The ends of the curves were typically “scrolled,” a feature modeled after ancient Greek ionic columns. Because the bed had curved or scrolled ends, it closely resembled a sleigh, hence the name “sleigh bed." Although it originated around 200 years ago and has roots in the ancient world, the sleigh bed remains a popular bed style today.

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.