Make Your Own Upholstered Headboard

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Estimated Time: 
2 to 4 hours

 

Whether it's Valentine's Day or the middle of the year, adding a little romance to your bedroom is something that is worth doing all year round. One easy project that will add ambiance is to make your own upholstered headboard. And, it's easier than you might think!

One of the many reasons we absolutely love this project is that for each and every bedroom in your home you get to choose the fabric, color and style that fits the room and the mood you are looking to create. All fabrics work like cotton, linen, velvet, even silk! If you're in the mood to get creative you can even try something different like fake fur, leather, denim or even vinyl!

JANE TIP: When choosing the fabric remember that while matching your drapes is a good idea, the headboard will sit right up against the wallpaper and your bed linens so make sure that the patterns or colors don't fight each other.

The best part is that this project is fun, simple and easy to complete in a single afternoon. You could have more romance in your bedroom by tonight, so let's get started!

Step 1

Get Inspired!

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Take a look at many different sources to get an idea of what style and shape headboard you think you would like to do in your own room. Everything from architectural books to decorating and do-it-yourself magazines, anything that might show you an idea you never thought of and that you love. Remember that you can create any shape or size you want with a piece or plywood, a pencil and a jigsaw. Don't be afraid to dream big!

Here are a few other shape and style ideas:

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Step 2

Sizing Up Your Project

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If you're a beginner DIYer, you can stick with a basic rectangular shape that is easy to cut (you can even have your local home improvement store cut the wood for you).

 

In order to create the ideal headboard for your room, the first thing you'll need to do is determine the size and shape it will be. You can either:

  1. Use a headboard you currently own
  2. Go to any local thrift store and find one to upholster that fits your bed and your style
  3. The other option you have is to build your own headboard from scratch with a bit of plywood and a jigsaw

We personally prefer the third option because it allows you to create the exact shape and size you need for your particular room.

 

If you're creating your own, you can stick to a basic rectangular shape but if you're up for creating something that reflects you, think outside the box and create any shape you want! For more romance why not add curves? If modern is more your style you could even try a triangle, notched side or sleek tall rectangle.

 

While a rectangle will be the easiest and quickest to complete, remember any shortcuts you take in choosing your shape will be one you have to live with. This really isn't rocket science so why not create a shape and style you love?!

So, to start you'll need to know a few things about your bed:

  1. Width of your bed: The headboard should be slightly wider than your mattress. Don't forget - the padding and foam will add slightly to the width also (usually less than 1").
  2. Height of your headboard: This is up to you; first you'll want to figure out the purpose of your headboard. Are you creating it only for décor purposes, or is it also for functional purposes such as for resting against it to read a book or watch TV? If it's for function, be sure you make it tall enough so you can comfortably lean against it without your head hitting the wall!

Step 3

Go Shopping!

 

If you're going to build your own headboard continue on. If you've found a headboard you're ready to reupholster, you can skip down to Step 5.

 

Store #1: Home Improvement Retailer or Lumber Yard.

 

For the wood, you can use basic ¼" plywood. Any home improvement retailer will carry this. It is relatively thin and lighter than solid wood. It also comes in large sheets. Make sure you have a trunk or back seat wide enough to handle it too! If you don't most home improvement centers will make 1-2 cuts for free. Hopefully that will help it fit in your car, but make sure you don't cut it any smaller than your basic measurements. If you are going for a basic rectangular shape, the retailer should be able to cut it for you. (if there's no way you can fit the wood in your car, many home improvement retailers rent trucks hourly for a nominal fee so you can get your purchase home)

JANE TIP: Many people get plywood and particle board confused but it's important to make sure you use plywood. The reason for this is particle board is made with a great deal of adhesive that typically releases fumes until it's fully dry. If you choose to use particle board or find your plywood is giving off odors, you may want to seal both sides with a coat of polyurethane and let it dry fully before getting started. You will need at least 24-36 hours of drying time before getting started on your headboard.

 

Store #2: Fabric, Foam, Craft or Upholstery Store

 

  1. TIMESAVER: Call the store ahead of time to see what types of foam and batting they carry. You will want the foam to be at least 2" thick to make it comfortable. Have them cut the foam to the exact size of your board. If you are opting for a more decorative shape, you will need to cut the foam at home to the shape you desire.
  2. Batting or Fiberfill comes in large rolls and is a thin, white gauze-like substance. The store will cut off what you need. Be sure to add at least 12 inches of batting to the length and width as you will use it to wrap around the foam and board.
  3. Decide on your fabric. Keep in mind durability - it's always best to opt for a slightly thicker upholstery type fabric (for strength and you also don't want to be able to see through to the foam). Otherwise, your options are wide open! Just like with the batting, be sure to add at least 12 inches to the length and width of the fabric.

 

Step 4

Beyond the Box

If you are looking to cut your own personalized shape, here are a few extra steps to doing it right the first time:

 

  • Come up with your design and make a template: For a decorative or curved headboard, you may want to make a template out of paper (like brown Kraft paper) first. Draw and cut out your headboard, tape it to the wall and see what you think. (Remember it will look different covered with foam and fabric, you are just looking for the shape) If you love it, then trace the template on the plywood using your pencil.
  • Create your shape: After tracing the template, cut the plywood. For straight cuts use a circular saw or a handsaw; for curves use a portable jigsaw. While you're at it, remember that you can leave the bottom as a rectangle or cut out a pair of legs. hbs4

    Cool Tool: If you don't currently own a jigsaw, one of our favorites is SKIL's 14.4 volt, Cordless, Orbital Jigsaw. We love the fact that it's light-weight, easy to use and cordless. It also has a great feature that allows you to cut at a slower speed which will help to create a smoother edge which means less sanding once you've finished!

  • Sand the Edges: Once the wood is cut, use sandpaper or a sanding sponge on the edges to remove all splinters and round over the corners. Though if you've used the slower speed on your Skil jigsaw you may not have much sanding to do!

     

    SAFETY TIP: When cutting or sanding be sure to always use safety goggles and a sanding mask. Sawdust and eyes don't go well together and sawdust isn't exactly great for the lungs either! To keep risk of splinters at a minimum, be sure to wear leather work gloves while handling your plywood as well.

 

Step 5

Cut Your Foam

Lay the foam on the ground and place the cut plywood or your "recycled" headboard on top of it. Then trace the shape using a black marker onto the foam. Go ahead and cut the shape out using a utility knife. If you are using a 2-3" foam or greater you may want to use an electric carving knife to cut it.

Step 6

Cut your Fiberfill

Whether you opted for a basic rectangle or a decorative shape, you'll want to cut the fiberfill with at least 5 to 6 inches of batting to wrap around the foam and plywood.

Step 7

 

Where it all comes together

To put your new headboard together you'll need a large, clean, flat work surface (the floor works fine). Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Place the fabric on your work surface front side down.
    JANE TIP: It's a good idea to iron your fabric prior to completing this portion of the project to remove any wrinkles or creases creating a more professional looking headboard.
  2. Place the batting on top of the fabric.(This should be the same size as the fabric.) Lay the foam on top of the batting. Now place the plywood on top of all of it. You should now have all 4 layers sandwiched together. Be sure to line up the foam and plywood, and have plenty of fabric and fiberfill around the edges to be able to pull the two up and around the back of the plywood.
  3. Begin attaching the fabric and batting over the back of the plywood and using a staple gun, begin stapling it with 1/4-inch staples every 2 inches.
    JANE TIP: Begin by stapling 2 staples into the center of two opposing sides; then do the same in the top and bottom. Now flip the entire headboard, foam and fabric around to see if it is sitting where you would like it to be. If so, flip it back over and staple your way out from the center, alternating from side to side and top to bottom. If not, then just pull the few staples out that you've done and start over. If you are using a patterned fabric, be careful not pull too hard while stapling as it can throw the design off-center
  4. Trim excess material and batting with scissors.

 

Step 8

Putting it in its Place

hbs8The best hardware to secure your headboard to the wall is actually a very simple design. Flush mounts are attached to the back of your headboard and to the wall and simply slide together to create an interlocking and stable mount. After all, you don't want the headboard banging against the wall every time you move!

To install these mounts, first locate the studs on your wall behind where the headboard will be located. Attach the bottom part of the flush mounts to the wall and into the studs as wide as possible within the width of the headboard. Lean the headboard against the wall to mark the location of the receiving mount on the headboard. Take the headboard away and drill the holes for the mounts and attach facing down. Then just lift the headboard onto the wall mounts to secure (you might need a friend to help you). Finally, move your mattress and frame back against the wall and your new headboard to complete the look.

Finally a bed that says "Wow!"

Whatever choices you make, the addition of a personalized upholstered headboard adds so much more to any bedroom in your house. In fact, you may be surprised to find a new found comfort, elegance and even a sense of romance! So, now that you have the reasons, get started on making your new headboard this weekend!

Click here to see us demonstrate this project on The Today Show 12/28/2006.

Related articles:
The Color of Love
Get a Bedroom for Romance
Add Romance with a New Light Fixture

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68 comments

15
Nov

I am making two upholstery head boards for my daughters. I need to know where can I get those flush mounting kits. I have search the internet and can't find them. Any help would be greatly appreciated I want to be done with this project by this weekend.
19
Nov

Hi: The major hardware stores don't carry them, after all it is too useful a product! If you go to Rockler.com, they have 2 versions at about $2.50 ea. Hope this helps. They are also located in quite a few cities.
15
Dec

You can get them online at Rockler.com or at The Home Depot - they do have them in their specialty hardware aisle, usually by the ceiling hooks, etc. They come in many sizes and are suprisingly easy to install. Just in case (don't want to frustrate anyone in trying to find them), here's a direct link to them at Rockler: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=346. I wouldn't recommend attaching the headboard to the bed necessarily since depending on the height you go with, each time you get in and out of bed, it will sway back and fourth and may hit the wall. Since it's only point of contact will be near the floor to the bed, not a very secure solution.
5
Mar

A very easy way to make your own and they work great. Take a 2x4 or 1x4 and have the lumber store cut it about 10" short of the width of headboard on each side. Then have them angle the blade and make a cut 45 degrees the whole length of the board. Attach one of the boards with the angle sticking out from the wall UPRIGHT. Then attach the other with angle out facing DOWNWARDS on the headboard. They fit into eachother. Make sure you MEASURE and level both boards first to determine where the headboard will "hang". Make sure to put the screws (on the wall piece) into studs. Very sturdy and easy to remove.
17
Apr

After hanging the headboard on the 2x4 , did you secure it in any way? Or not? Did you use this yourself, and has it worked for you? I like the concept , but need to know that it stays secure. Thank you
10
Jan

Hi. I am wanting to decorate the headboard I already have. It is a sleighbed...Any suggestions??
21
Feb

I bet you could sew a simple slipcover (with or without piping along the edges) to go over a sleigh bed headboard. Make it like a giant pillowcase, sewn on 3 ends and open on the bottom, and slide it over the headboard. I've seen similar things done to quickly cover up dining room chair backs.
22
Jan

I checked with Rockler.com and found the flush mounting kits, however the postage is $6.99--more than 2 flush mounts! Check around with your local stores, such as Ace Hardware, if your Lowe's or Home Depot don't have them. They usually carry such items. Since these are also used for mounting cabinets, you may also wish to check with any store that sells cabinets.
28
Jan

the instructions provided here are great, thank you! But before I get started I have two questions: 1. does anyone have any tips on how to make the fabric along corners tidy and flat? I've done this sort of project in the past and found that the corners can bunch up a bit when you go to staple the fabric on the back. Also, I am planning on tufting, should I make the fabric a little loose on the board so that it can accommodate the pull of the buttons? cheers!
4
Feb

I have also been wondering if when tufting if you will need to allow for the pull of the buttons or if there is a rule of thumb as to how many inches between each button. I would also like suggestions on keeping the fabric neat and flat when doing the corners and curves of a more custom shape of headboard like pictured above.
1
Feb

I have been wanting to update my 4 year old daughter's bed room without spending a massive amount of money. I went to my local thrift store and picked up a twin size head and footboard set with the frame (only $10.00) Then since I just happen to work at a Joann fabric's store I picked up a 1" foam peice($6.00 on sale) 4 yards of 1/2 thick batting($3.30) and the cuteist 4 yards of home dec. fabric($9.78 on sale), picked up a can of light lavender paint at Home Depot($5.00)and POOF!! A totally new look for her room all for only $34.08! This of coarse doesn't include bedding but I was almost going to spend $300 on just a bed so this is a really great way to strech your dollar and give you a great feeling of I did that!!!
9
Mar

Hi, not sure what they're called, exactly, but I'd like to know if anyone has made upholstered headboard using those decorative nail heads as a border? Saw this done on one headboard and just loved it, but using these will be an issue with the fabric as there is not a "do-over" once the hole is made. I have my headboard frame made and ready to go... Thanks, Lisa
22
Mar

I am not sure how the "real" nailheads would work, but if you want them for the look only, they sell a "stick on" version. I have seen them on several pieces, and I couldn't tell that they weren't the real thing. The only down side is that I don't know how tacky they are, and how they will hold up if there is a lot of rubbing or friction placed on them. I have seen them at Michaels, as well as some fabric/decorating stores. Hope this helps!
31
Mar

I would like to make an upholstered footboard as well. It needs fabric on both sides. How do i do that? Where do I put the staples? Any clues? Thanks.
20
Apr

I would recommend making a large "pillowcase" type covering with the opening on the bottom. You can then slip the cover over the padded footboard and staple underneath the frame where no one will see it.
18
Apr

I too want an upholsterd foot board.....any plans on this site
14
Jun

I am planning on trying to make a padded headboard for my own queen size bed. My main concern is how do i determine the size of the wood that i will need. I am really excited about doing this project I just want it to come out without any problems.
1
Jul

Hi, I am wondering where you buy the foam? I went to Joann's and couldn't get it there. They only had the 2" thick in 24"x74" I believe. My twin headboard measurements are 40"x51". Do I piece the foam together, or is there somewhere I can buy it big enough? I really want to get this done without screwing it up! Thanks!
3
Jul

I had to buy 2 pieces of 24" X 74" foam and I just cut them and pieced them together. This might be what you need to do also. It worked out great and you can't even tell that 2 pieces of foam were used! :) Good Luck Tara!
7
Jul

The foam At Joann's will work fine you just butt two pieces up up against each other and cover it with batting. I promise it will come out smooth. Another alternative are those memory foam mattress toppers, they come in twin, full, queen, king, and Cal king and in 2" and 4" thicknesses. You can also order custom sizes off of the internet. Hope this helps.
5
Oct

I found the foam at Joanns to be very expensive. I went to Walmart and got two of the foam mattress toppers, like the egg crate one with the "zones", and put them face to face so that the peaks were interlocking, and used that as my foam. It was much, much cheaper and there was no piecing it together. My headboard for a queen bed was, I believe, 65 inches, so I think I either used two twin or two queen toppers.
3
Jul

I am so excited! I just made my own upholstered headboard! The dimensions I used for my headboard to be used with a queen size bed was 32" by 64". I wanted to make my headboard a little bit taller so that my hubby and I could lean up against it comfortably and read a book or watch TV. I really think it turned out great! I got the plywood at Home Depot and had them cut it to the dimensions I needed. I got the fabric, foam, batting, spray on adhesive, and buttons at Hancock Fabrics. And the other supplies I already had! :) All in all it cost approximately $115! (Not bad for an custom made upholstered headboard.) Start to finish it probably took me about 4 hours to complete. Thanks to this website I got a lot of guidance and ideas! :)
20
Jul

I made my headboard under $100, probably around $60-70. I would recommend getting your fabric and foam when JOANN's had a sale (4th of July). It saved me nearly $25. I also had problems finding the flush mounting brackets, ACE hardware had them. It was a little difficult to mount the headboard, due to the fact that it was pouffy on the back. But we added a few pieces of cardbaord and made the mounting on the headboard pop out more...Good luck
20
Jul

I made my headboard under $100, probably around $60-70. I would recommend getting your fabric and foam when JOANN's had a sale (4th of July). It saved me nearly $25. I also had problems finding the flush mounting brackets, ACE hardware had them. It was a little difficult to mount the headboard, due to the fact that it was pouffy on the back. But we added a few pieces of cardbaord and made the mounting on the headboard pop out more...Good luck
25
Sep

Hey....I got a great idea when shopping for my comforter. I am purchasing a KING sized bed, so I purchased a TWIN sized matching comforter (same pattern) to use for the headboard fabric. My dilema is the puffiness of the comforter, and the fact that I would like to alter the design. For the puffiness, I am wondering if I should use less dense foam. For the design alter, I would like to make it mounted on the wall BUT have it have a insert (hence the matching comforter) to be able to POP out when I change the bedding. Any Ideas?!?!?! I will also ask Jane too. I have not started my project. Still looking for ideas...this is a great website....I will recommend to all my pals!!!! Thanks!!!
22
Jul

what size should I make for a headboard on a full size bed? I dont want to get the wrong amount of fabric! I'm thinking of doing mine in a pink velvet or silk to contrast my black toile bedding.
22
Jul

also, how would one do a border piping along the headboard, like in the pictures posted as ideas?
24
Jul

Just to let everyone know... Home Depot no longer carries the flush mount brackets. I had to go to a little locally owned hardware store to find the brackets. Also... I recommend adding two wooden blocks to the back of the headboard where the flush mounts will be attached. This way the bulkiness of the back of the headboard won't get in the way when trying to use the mounts. :)
26
Sep

Hey....I got a great idea when shopping for my comforter. I purchased a TWIN sized matching comforter (same pattern) to use for the headboard fabric. My dilema is the puffiness of the comforter, and the fact that I would like to alter the design. For the puffiness, I am wondering if I should use less dense foam. For the design alter, I would like to make it mounted on the wall BUT have it have a insert like a shadow box design(hence the matching comforter) to be able to POP out when I change the bedding. Any Ideas?!?!?! I will also ask Jane too. I have not started my project. Still looking for ideas...this is a great website....I will recommend to all my pals!!!! Thanks!!!
29
Jul

After reading everything on here, I decided to make my own uphostered headboard this wkend. I love it! It only took me just over an hour to put it together, but forever to get it mounted. lol. I couldn't find any 2" foam, so I wound up usuing 3". I actually like the added thickness. Measurments are 30x62. It took me a whole afternoon to find the mountings too...finally located them at a local specialty harwaare store downtown. When all was said and done, it wound up costing me about $120. I'm really pleased with it!

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