How to Turn a $200 Blanket Into a Statement Headboard
WITH A DARING sense of wit and color, and a style equal parts Scandi-chic and Anglo-eccentric, Swedish designer Beata Heuman crafts interiors that look and feel like no others—as illustrated in her new book, “Every Room Should Sing” (Rizzoli). The wellspring of her inspiration? A knack for what she calls “magpie borrowing,” and a canny eye for potential in even the most obscure sources.
Take, for instance, a circa 1931 photo Ms. Heuman stumbled on via Instagram a few years ago. Shot in the Paris studio of American model-cum-photographer Lee Miller, the picture shows Miller and a friend lounging in bed against the backdrop of a Jean Cocteau cubist tapestry. “I love the slightly theatrical and bohemian feel, and how the rug’s softness seems just right for bed but also really works as a piece of art,” she said. “It makes an impression without insisting on itself too much.”
When doing up her own London home, Ms. Heuman reimagined the concept as a whimsical headboard. A repurposed cotton throw of rose, charcoal and turquoise, featuring cactuses and an abstract nude, stands in for the ’30s tapestry—a move that has become a trademark design in many projects since. The spontaneous design decision not only scratched a creative itch but it helped Ms. Heuman solve a logistical dilemma. After furnishing her tiny bedroom with the requisite pieces—wardrobe, bedside table, chair—she had little space left for large-scale flourishes. “I wanted the comfort of a generous upholstered headboard and the impact of a big artwork, so I combined the two,” she said.
Before affixing the blanket to the wall, Ms. Heuman had it framed in lengths of remaindered indigo velvet to match the width of her mattress and stretched on a cushioned backer. The result is a joyful visual statement that puts to rest any lingering stereotype of the upholstered headboard as staid or stuffy. Four years later, the piece has proven as durable as it is delightful. “The combination of the pattern and the natural materials has turned out to be quite forgiving,” she said. “And the velvet takes on a lovely patina.”
Indeed, the effect was such a success that she added it to her professional toolkit, using the concept again with a tapestry that includes rich red tigers, by Slow Down Studio, in the petite bedroom of a Notting Hill flat. More recently, Ms. Heuman brought the technique full circle by commissioning a monochromatic replica of the Cocteau rug to use as a headboard in the master bedroom of a large London family home. “The image itself is a little bold, but the colors are soft and the woman looks peaceful,” she explained. “I love that balance between grandeur and relatability.”