A daybed is a nap station, a convenient sick bed for an ailing child, an unobtrusive guest room for overnight visitors and an opportunity for some creative design using fabric, paint and pillows. Set it up as the main living room sofa, a half-hidden retreat or a magical playhouse -- and don't limit your daybed to a piece of furniture designated for simply one purpose -- sleeping. Surprise your family with a built-in or a new interpretation of an attic find.
1. Sofa Substitute
A daybed with an upholstered frame looks more like a proper sofa when it sits against a wall painted in a different shade than the rest of the room. Paint the section of the wall behind the daybed chocolate in a champagne room or deep rose in a faded-pink room. Add a shallow frame at the ceiling to support a valance and narrow side panels made from the same fabric as the upholstery. Use framed art to further define the contrasting wall paint behind the daybed. Bookend the bed with side tables and lamps; place a coffee table in front of it and toss a bunch of throw pillows against the wall for a comfortable backrest. Position extra chairs around the coffee table, facing the daybed. Use an area rug to define the seating arrangement as you would for a regular sofa.
2. Create a Cloud
A daybed can be a dreamy reading nook converted from an odd-size antique. A painted white wrought-iron crib with one side removed fits into an all-white alcove with a melange of pillows and accessories. Cover a crib mattress in white canvas and pile it with pillows encased in white vintage tea towels, cotton lace and scraps of embroidered bed linens. Add a flaking, white-painted cabinet -- an old farm cabinet is roomy, but any cupboard treated with crackle glaze will look suitably antique -- to hold lots of books and a few throws for snuggling into on chilly days. A small trunk, painted white, serves as a table to hold a mug of tea and a white porcelain flowerpot for a bunch of daisies or an orchid plant. Up-cycle a shabby lace tablecloth into a curtain over the nearby window and hang spray-painted birdcages, wired as pendant lamps, on either side of the daybed.
3. Cozy Cabin
Sail away from the stress of the day with a daybed built into a frame like a bunk in a ship's cabin. The mattress sits on a cabinet with drawers that hold bedding for guests. The side frames of the daybed nook are shelves for books, a lamp, favorite photographs and a portable music player and dock. Cover the mattress with sailboat-printed canvas or faded blue-and-white stripes. A deep red Roman shade over the window warms the hideaway. If there's no window, frame a nautical chart as wall decor. For more privacy when the cabin is used as a guest room, a rod running between the two bookcase-sides supports curtains, which are made from the same material as the shade, that enclose the daybed when pulled shut.
4. Petite Four-Poster
An easy mini-daybed for the nursery or playroom is no more complicated than flipping an unused dining table upside-down and adding a block of thick foam or a crib or toddler-bed mattress. The table legs turn it into a four-poster that you can drape with gauze or fit with dowels to hold open-and-close curtains. Its low height makes it a perfect and safe play fort, house or castle, and it is handy for curling up in with some beloved stuffed animals and a blankie for an afternoon nap. When the kids outgrow their custom daybed, flip it right-side-up and move it to the porch for summer picnics.
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