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What is a Sleigh Bed?

One of the more distinctive types of bed available is the sleigh bed. Here we will be discussing what a sleigh bed is, the history of the design and the different types of sleigh beds that are available.

What is a sleigh bed?

A sleigh bed is a type of bed that has a distinctive shape modelled after a sleigh. It has a headboard and footboard that curve or scroll outwards, giving the bed its unique silhouette.

Sleigh beds are typically made of a solid wood like mahogany, but today they can be made from a variety of materials, such as different metals. However, the curves that give the bed its distinctive silhouette are usually less exaggerated when made from these materials. Depending on the style, sleigh beds can bring an elegant, rustic, or whimsical feel to a room.

The history of sleigh beds

Sleigh beds originated in the early 19th century and are a product of the Empire style that was popular in France and the United States at the time. The Empire style drew inspiration from the ancient empires of Rome and Greece, which contributes at least in part to the sleigh bed’s opulent aesthetic.

It is believed the bed’s original design was based on the artistic depictions of Roman-era beds with their curved, sweeping ends. People also think that one of the earliest fans of this style of bed was Napoleon, resulting in the style’s popularity across France.

At the time, the American Empire was particularly focussed on Greek architecture, particularly the curved feet and columns, as well as beds with headboards that curved into a scroll-like shape at the end.

The combination of these styles resulted in the sleigh beds we know today, with their aesthetic reminiscent of an ancient horse sleigh, or indeed, the sleigh we see in depictions of Father Christmas!

Originally, sleigh beds were bought with pride, as a status symbol, often designed to be very ornate and therefore expensive. In some cases, people would place them in the centre of the room as a statement piece to show their wealth and position in society.

Today, there are many different varieties of sleigh beds, from those resembling the traditional styles, to those that are more contemporary and suited to a modern home. 

Types of sleigh bed

While sleigh beds do have a distinctive aesthetic, there are a few different styles of the bed. French and Celtic-style sleigh beds for example, have variations in the style, such as the curvature and height of the headboard and the type of detailing or carving that is featured. As well as these stylistic variations, sleigh beds also come with different structures:

Classic sleigh beds – these beds feature the traditional scrolled headboard and footboard.

Storage sleigh beds – these types of sleigh beds feature underbed storage in the form of drawers, giving the whole unit a thicker base, but still retaining the elegant curves on the headboard and footboard.

Sleigh beds with pull-out guest beds – These sleigh beds are similar to the storage versions, except the base houses a pull-out bed on castors, giving you a sleeping option for guests that doesn’t take up any extra room when not in use.

Sleigh beds with a low foot end – As the name suggests, these types of bed feature the traditional curved headboard of the sleigh bed, but without the footboard. These beds can be a bit more versatile in settings where the classic sleigh bed may feel a little too opulent.

Half rail and full rail sleigh beds – These beds still feature the curved style of the traditional sleigh bed, but the headboard and footboard are split into rails (either at the top of the boards or through the full length).

Divan-style sleigh beds – These sleigh beds keep the curved head and footboards but have a frame that goes all the way to the floor and houses a divan bed in the middle.

 

Sleigh beds certainly have a distinctive appearance and their international history gives them a timeless character.

Sleigh beds can add a touch of elegance to any bedroom and here at AKD we have mahogany sleigh beds in a variety of designs and finishes, so you can find the right piece for your home.

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Can You Paint Mahogany Furniture?

Mahogany has a beautiful, authentic aesthetic that is often imitated but never matched. The strength and durability of this solid wood are desirable characteristics for homeowners, but mahogany’s natural hints of flame and deep red-brown tones aren’t always the best match for existing home decors. This leads many to ask, “can you paint mahogany furniture?”

The answer is yes – mahogany furniture can be painted. However, if you are doing the painting yourself, you need to make sure you correctly prepare the wood, use the right paint for the job, and choose the colour that will best suit your home.

The process of painting mahogany

While some woods are ready to be painted straight away, or at least with a suitable primer or base coat, woods such as mahogany, walnut and maple have a high tannin content. Even after the wood has been cut and treated, these tannins still seep to the surface, which can bleed through and discolour any paintwork. 

To paint mahogany furniture, it first needs to be sanded to remove surface imperfections, or any gloss if it was previously painted. Next, a stain-blocking primer must be applied to the wood, which prevents the tannins from bleeding through to the surface as the wood ages. The number of coats required will depend on the brand of primer that is used, and whether or not it is tinted.

Once all those stages have been completed, the wood is ready to be painted. Gloss finishes are best applied with foam rollers, whereas matt or eggshell finishes can be applied with a normal brush or roller. In addition, if you have the correct equipment, you can spray paint the wood for an attractive, even finish. At least two full coats of paint will need to be applied (with adequate time left between coats) and then the furniture will need to be left untouched to cure for at least 24 hours.

While you can paint mahogany furniture yourself, it is also possible to buy it professionally spray-painted, which gives it a perfect, blemish-free finish. Here at AKD, we carefully follow this procedure when painting mahogany furniture: 

  1. The wood is sanded.
  2. A coat of sanding sealer is applied.
  3. We carry out super sanding (very fine sanding) on the wood to give a completely smooth surface on which to apply paint.
  4. A blocking primer is applied which seals the wood. This is very important as it stops natural tannins in the wood from leaking into the painted finish and causing blotching and discolouration of the paint.
  5. An undercoat is applied.
  6. Finally, the customer’s chosen colour is applied. The standard finish is a soft satin but matt or gloss finishes are also available.

Choosing the colour for painted mahogany furniture

While we love the natural hues of mahogany, and the pronounced effect of the grain from using wood stains, this aesthetic isn’t ideal for all decors. Our mahogany furniture is available in a range of painted finishes, not just the commonly found black and white painted mahogany. We believe these colours still allow the quality and craftsmanship of the piece to shine through:

  • Black
  • French White
  • French Antique White
  • French Cream
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Other colours (e.g blue, green)

We can also create an antiqued effect on any of the above colours to give it the desired vintage aesthetic.

While you can paint mahogany furniture yourself, if you are buying a new piece, it is probably worth buying one that has already been professionally painted. If you do decide to do the painting yourself, just make sure to follow the above steps so that the tannins of the wood don’t discolour the finish!

If you are interested in painted mahogany furniture, you are welcome to get in touch with us to find out how we can create bespoke, made to order pieces to suit your living space.

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What is a Partners Desk?

Mahogany Georgian Partners Desk with Filing Drawers and wine read leather top

All furniture has a history, even if it’s not something many of us think about every day. One piece of furniture that has a particularly interesting origin is the partners desk, with one particular model being the most famous piece of furniture in the world.

Here we will be talking about what a partners desk is, its rich and interesting history, and why it is still a popular piece for the home office today.

What is a partners desk?

A partners desk is a style of large antique desk. Imagine two pedestal desks joined back-to-back, with drawers and cupboards on both sides to create a large working area. This means two people can work opposite each other at the same desk.

This type of desk originated in the UK during the Georgian period to allow banking partners to sit and work closely with each other while still enjoying the prestigious status of a pedestal desk. Partners desks were also adopted by law offices where they were used by solicitor partners or by solicitors and their clients.

Traditionally, partners desks are made from a high-quality hardwood such as mahogany, with brass fittings and a leather insert worksurface. Modern partners desks today tend to be a little slimmer but are still plenty spacious with ample storage.

The famous partners desk

Despite the desk’s original purpose to seat two people, arguably the most famous example of a partners desk seats just one very important person.

The Resolute Desk is the elaborately carved desk in the Oval Office that the President of the United States sits at. This desk was originally gifted to the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B Hayes, in 1880 by Queen Victoria.

The wood that makes up the Resolute Desk comes from the oak timbers of the HMS Resolute, a British Arctic exploration ship that became trapped in ice and was abandoned in a Canadian Arctic waterway during its search for Sir John Franklin’s missing expedition.

The abandoned ship was found by an American whaling ship, taken back to America, and repaired before being returned to Queen Victoria as a gesture of goodwill during a turbulent time of US-UK relations.

As a token of gratitude, once the HMS Resolute was decommissioned over 20 years later, its timbers were used by skilled joiner William Evenden to create the Resolute Desk. This was then gifted to then-President Rutherford B Hayes and marked a significant step forward in the partnership between the two countries that we now have.

What are the different styles of partners desks?

Partners desks come with a few different options when it comes to shape, wood type and style, but we prefer the authentic Georgian styling of a traditional mahogany partners desk. The pedestals can contain either traditional drawers, filing drawers or cupboards on both sides.

Our mahogany partners desks here at AKD also come in a range of different finishes and with coloured leather insert choices, meaning the perfect combination can be created to suit the décor of any home office. While brass handles are traditional, partners desks are also available with rounded wood handles instead.

Should you get a partners desk for your home office?

A partners desk is a great addition to any home office that can accommodate it. They are striking pieces of furniture that exemplify quality and status. Partners desks look great from all angles and are also designed to be positioned away from the walls, which provides you with more options when it comes to placement and storage.

From a practicality standpoint, partners desks also allow you to share the desk with someone else which, despite the size of the unit, can save you space. Partners desks also come with more built-in storage than other types of desks, which means you won’t need as many additional storage units.

 

Do you think a partners desk could be the right fit for your home office? If so, you can take a look at our exceptional handmade partners desks here

 

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How to Style Dark Wood Furniture

dark wood chest of drawers

Dark wood furniture is rich, striking and full of character and is sure to enhance any interior design aesthetic when used with careful consideration. It’s important to make sure it lives up to its full potential when placed in your home so, in this blog, we will be going through some tips on how to style dark wood furniture.

Set dark furniture against a clean backdrop

The reason people can be cautious when styling dark wood furniture is that it has such an eye-catching and distinctive appearance that can dominate a room in some situations, especially if there are too many other elements vying for attention.

To avoid clashing, we recommend setting dark furniture against a clean backdrop such as white walls and a lighter floor. You can use colour too, just try not to make the backdrop for the furniture too busy as it will diminish its effect.

Combine the dark furniture with pops of colour

Colour is not the enemy of dark wood furniture. It can actually prevent dark rooms from looking too moody, it just needs to be used thoughtfully. Depending on how dark your furniture is, you may consider a semi-monochromatic look, playing the dark wood against lighter neutral tones which then gives you plenty of freedom to add an accent of any colour you want through furnishings, artwork, ornaments or even a painted statement wall.

Mahogany furniture, for example, has quite a few different colours it can pair well with. Cool blues contrast very nicely, while warmer tones like orange and red complement the hints of flame in the wood. Mid greens and grey greens can also work very well.

Take advantage of alcoves, corners, and nooks

If you’re struggling to find a clean, open space to place your dark wood furniture, then consider going in the opposite direction. If you can make use of an alcove or corner, then you don’t need to worry so much about blending the piece in or creating a ‘blank canvas’ to set it against. Alcoves and angular settings will naturally frame the furniture without it looking incongruous or too dominating.

Match the furniture with other dark tones

Another tip for styling dark wood furniture is to match it with other dark tones throughout the room to create a theme. This doesn’t mean filling the room with other large furniture pieces; just creating an accent with smaller units such as shelves, ornaments and picture frames will provide a sense of cohesion.

These other dark tones don’t need to match exactly if you are playing them against lighter colours in the room. Mahogany furniture, for example, will match well with a range of black and brown furnishings, as well as other dark woods.

Or go eclectic

If these design tips don’t sound like your style, then why not throw the rules out the window and go for a full-blown eclectic aesthetic? After all, the most important element in home design is your own personal taste and preferences. 

Deliberately eclectic styles allow you to work with plenty of colour, but you also have room for some unity. You could consider having all your furniture made from natural materials, for example, or tie the room together with some matching rugs or throws.

 

That concludes our guide on how to style dark wood furniture but, as mentioned earlier, your personal taste is the most important factor when decorating your home, so go with what feels right for you. The wonderful character of mahogany furniture and other dark woods means you should be able to find a place for it anywhere with a little creativity.

If you’re looking for some dark wood furniture to enhance your home, you can start by browsing our range of mahogany furniture.

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What Is Needed for A Home Office?

Twin pedestal desk, reclaimed wood and grey metal legs. File drawer on left, cupboard on right & central flap down keyboard drawer.

Whilst we should see some restrictions being lifted in the near future and more people returning to work, it doesn’t mean that all of us will be going back to the office. 

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses have learned that workers don’t need to be in the office full time and will continue to encourage their employees to work from home where possible. Continue reading What Is Needed for A Home Office?

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Mahogany vs Walnut: Which Should You Choose?

Rectangular Mayan Walnut Open Coffee Table with magazine shelf

Solid wood is a great choice for furniture and decor – it is strong, durable, and has a timeless look that can suit almost any aesthetic. However, not all woods are equal when it comes to choosing your furniture. In this blog, we will be looking at two popular hardwoods you may be considering – here’s what you need to know about the mahogany vs walnut debate. Continue reading Mahogany vs Walnut: Which Should You Choose?

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A Guide to the Different Mahogany Finishes

As well as being exceptionally sturdy and durable, mahogany has one of the most distinctive and striking appearances of any wood. Different finishes can highlight different aspects of the red-brown tones and the natural grain, or it can be painted to better suit a certain design or colour palette of a room.

We’ve put together a guide to the different mahogany finishes we provide here at AKD Furniture, and where each would be best suited.

Continue reading A Guide to the Different Mahogany Finishes