The sleigh bed first appeared in the early 1800s during the French and American Empire periods. These ornate beds feature a high curved headboard, lower curved footboard, and low side rails. The resulting design resembles a horse-drawn sleigh. The first sleigh beds were made of wood with mahogany veneers, and both the headboard and footboard curved upward and rolled at the top. Originally, sleigh beds were designed for one person and were used as daybeds. The style comes from the French court of Napoleon, which was inspired by archeological discoveries of the Roman Empire being unearthed throughout Europe at the time. Napoleon was an advocate of the style and required all his beds to be made in this fashion. Known for its regal appearance, the sleigh bed is still popular 300 years later.
Walnut upholstered sleigh bed, France, 19th c
Cast iron sleigh bed, France, 1850