From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cupboard Bed

Dutch bed in a wall



Isaac and I recently spent a few hours in the antique stores in the riverfront area of Paducah, KY. I bought this picture postcard at one of the shops, because it reminded me of the cupboard beds of Dutch children in my storybooks, when I was a little girl.

Oh, I would have loved a cozy bed in the wall like those little Dutch children always had. I thought it would be the perfect place for reading all day or playing with dolls or giggling with my sister. And I imagined that at night, I would climb into my bed, close the doors, nestle down in the blankets, and enjoy the most perfect and delicious sleep.

I looked at a few websites about cupboard beds tonight and found a very nice little cushioned cubbyhole that someone built.It doesn't have doors that close, but it does have a cool, round entrance. The lucky little girl whose bed it is looks happy with it. And here's another cupboard bed project that turned out well.

During my brief research, I read that in Holland and other European countries, entire families sometimes slept together, sitting up, in the home's single cupboard bed. Sometimes all the children slept in one cupboard bed, and the parents slept in another one. It seems that in real life, some children were a lot less private and a lot more snug in their little Dutch beds than I imagined!

This photo was taken in the Netherlands, so I presume that it shows an authentic, typical cupboard bed. I don't know the purpose of the open area beneath the bed. Isaac theorized that it might have been a place to set a pan of coals or some hot bricks that would warm the bed from beneath. It does look like there is a grate of some sort there.

5 comments:

Sammie said...

I also read a book about a little girl in Europe with a cupboard bed. I too wished I had one!! Cozy and private. Especially since I shared a 9x9 bedroom with my two sisters. Ha.

Genevieve said...

Well, your bedroom was cozy -- just not as private as you might have wanted!

anna in spain said...

Interestingly,in Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte mentions Cathy and Heathcliff hiding from the old servant in a cupboard bed carved with the Apostles. They closed the doors so he wouldn't know where they were.

Genevieve said...

Thanks for your comment, Anna. I suppose those beds, like any piece of furniture, were candidates for embellishment, especially if the owners were wealthy.

Miranda said...

Hello,
I am Dutch and actually slept in a cupboard bed just like this!

It was at my grandparents house and you friend is right. The hole beneath the bed was to place a pan of coals :-)


(like a old fashioned foot stove)
Thanks for the picture as I was looking for one.



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