Make Your Own Upholstered Headboard

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!


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:



Step 2

Sizing Up Your Project



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.

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