Monday, July 23, 2001 at 1:00am

Remember being a kid and dragging a pup tent into the backyard to sleep out under the stars? As adults, somehow sleeping on the ground is not nearly as tempting, but we can still have a taste of summer in our bedrooms by adding a canopy over our beds.

"We tend to forget there are seasons anymore," Marilyn Hansen, ASID, from Omaha, Neb., said. "But years ago people put up mosquito netting around their beds and also in their windows because there were no window screens. Today, we're so static by contrast. We tend to create spaces and just forget about them."

To get a summertime mosquito canopy look even if you don't have a four-poster, take Hansen's advice: "Just add drapery rods to the ceiling and hang netting from them," she suggested. "Iron rods draped with sheer fabric are especially pretty."

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Juli Catlin, FASID, loves the look of a bed swathed in fabric but feels that full canopies covering all four sides of the bed are a bit much in any season. Instead, the designer suggested creating a half canopy. A carpenter could create a wood box with decorative molding attached to the ceiling or the wall from which the fabric could be anchored. Although you might be tempted to use a bright floral, Catlin cautioned against too much pattern: "Bedrooms are really about tones, and the prettiest ones are more monochromatic in shades of taupe, peach and celadon. At the end of the day, you don't want a lot of things blaring at you."

Designer Jane Keltner created her own soft retreat in the master bedroom of her Memphis home. Drawing inspiration from French dressing rooms, Keltner added diaphanous silk curtains to the frame of her four-poster bed, but just at the corners, for a light touch. For a cool, sleeping-in-the-woods feeling, she also used florist's wire to anchor evergreen branches along the top of the frame.

I've also seen some ingenious designs in the pages of my own magazine. One homeowner created the effect of a starry summer sky overhead by swagging twinkling white Christmas tree lights across the ceiling then suspending openwork lace over the top. (You could create the same effect with a hammock or fishing net.

Another created a bed canopy that looked sumptuous but is really nothing more than a vintage chenille bedspread draped by hooks from the ceiling and anchored in folds to the wall.

I hope you're inspired to create your own "mosquito canopy," even if you're not bothered by things that go buzz in the night.


Filed under: Lifestyles