Design History: Jenny Lind

Jenny Lind, also known as the Swedish Nightingale, was an immensely popular Swedish singer who made her American debut in 1851.  P.T. Barnum promoted her American tour, and to create buzz he made a ‘Jenny Lind’ brand.  ‘Jenny Lind’ products included Jenny Lind hats and gloves, Jenny Lind tobacco, and, the subject of today’s post, Jenny Lind furniture.

The Jenny Lind bed–a spool bed with square corners on the head and foot boards–was supposedly the type of bed that the singer slept on during her American tour.  However slight the connection between Jenny Lind and the furniture style that bears her name, the association has endured and Jenny Lind furniture is still popular today.

A lithograph of Jenny Lind with tinsel painting from the American Folk Art Museum.

A lithograph of Jenny Lind with tinsel painting from the American Folk Art Museum.

Jenny Lind beds in particular are a favorite of ours.  They look equally perfect in dark and moody bedrooms and bright and happy bedrooms, giving both a vintage leavening that always appeals to us.  This bedroom, with its navy walls and abutted persian rugs, is a dreamy oasis.

This bright and light bedroom is pretty much the opposite of the room above, but the classic Jenny Lind bed works just as well.

This image has long been a favorite of ours.  The otomi coverlet, the lace-edged sheets, the modern line drawing, and of course the Jenny Lind bed–we love it all.

Jenny Lind furniture also looks great in kids’ rooms.  The spools, painted in playful hues, look like stacks of toys or candy.

Jenny Lind furniture shows up a lot on Craigslist and in thrift stores.  But if you’re looking for something specific, Jenny Lind furniture is also cropping up in retail stores in all shapes and sizes.  Here are a few options from around the web:

Jenny Lind Furniture

1. Side Table // 2. Navy Spindle Bed // 3. Bookshelf // 4. Four Post Bed // 5. Twin Bed

What do you think, are you a fan of Jenny Lind furniture?  Did you have a Jenny Lind bed in your childhood room?  Did you see one years ago at a thrift store that still haunts your dreams?  Tell us your Jenny Lind story in the comments!

17 responses on “Design History: Jenny Lind

  1. Aaron Ostrovsky

    I love this – last fall Ada and Astrid both got Jenny Lind beds in their rooms – they are fantastic and as you noted, esp. for Astrid’s room, they really can make a small room feel somehow bigger and more playful. Good stuff guys.

      1. Aaron Ostrovsky

        Well, truth be told, their rooms right now are full of giant air conditioning units that look like R2-D2 – come in the fall! 😉

  2. Nina

    I am a fan of the beds, and I appreciate that they work with so many different design sensibilities. They are like the little black dress of beds! Only know them from blogs, though. I’ve never seen one in person.

    Nice selection, and interesting background info.

  3. Susan Glassow

    My grandparents’ guest room had a lovely walnut Jenny Lind double bed. I slept there many times and can remember holding the spindles as I fell asleep. I dusted them too! My grandmother Charity sang from the time she was a young woman and revered Jenny Lind. She also had a spinet piano that she told us was a Jenny Lind. My mother must have sold the bed at some point. I don’t remember seeing it after I left for college.

    1. Mera Post author

      So many great Jenny Lind connections! I can almost feel what it would have been like to fall asleep with a Jenny Lind spindle in your hand as a child (and dusting them is probably no small feat). Thank you Susan!

  4. Audry

    Boyd’s crib was a Jenny Lind, in a lovely dark walnut. So classic. We’re reusing it for baby #2! I looked all around for an affordable toddler bed version but never found anything I fell in love with. Wonderful post, thank you!

  5. Jenny Depa-Karl

    I had purchased my friend’s antique Jenny Lind bed (formerly her dad’s twin size bed) with thoughts of using it as a day-bed. I finally sold it/gave it away! (sigh)

    I hope the new owner loves it as much as i did!

  6. Virginia Lawhorne

    I am trying to learn the approximate age of the Jenny Lind bed I just bought from an antique/thrift shop. It is a 3/4 bed and looks similar to the red twin beds you have in the picture. It has 8 spindles each on the headboard and footboard. On the back of the head board is printed “34s-HAL” I would appreciate any help or opinions! Thanks!

  7. Jackie Weibly

    Thanks for the background. I have a bed from my grandmother that she always call the “hired hand day-bed”. It is of the Jenny Lind style and is quite long and narrow. I have a photo of the family youngsters (at the time) sitting on it from around 1955. It was painted a blue color. Grandma refinished it and used either varnish or polyurethane on it. I have it in my library and it is great to lay down on and read. If you are interested I can send the 60 year old photo and one of today. Just let me know.

  8. Ruth Ogden

    My whole childhood, I slept in the the Jenny Lind bed that was given to my grandmother when she was 8 years old by her father. That would have been in 1861. It is a 3/4 size bed and I still own it. I need to sell it as I am downsizing, but I don’t know to where or how much it’s worth. It’s beautiful.

  9. Beth Simmons

    I have 2 jenny lind beds. One is still painted the original color of green. I am currently trying to match it. I got it from a lady that is in her 70s and it belonged to her mom and she got it from her great aunt. She had stripped and painted one of them but didnt finish stripping the other. I love the shade of green. I see it alot in victorian shades. Wish i could send a picture of it. It is the twin size of the very first picture you posted. So how old are they? Is there a way to date them? I love what you wrote of them in your article by the way. I had not heard of that story.

  10. Curt

    My mom left me a five spindle child’s bed one spindle missing. I found it and plan to restore it. Will try to find out more about her . My uncle has the other one.

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