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How to make a DIY upholstered headboard

How to make a DIY upholstered headboard

Upholstered Headboards

alt="rich floral fabric headboard with matching cushions"

Upholstered headboards are having a thing at the moment and feature strongly in every interiors magazine story. Once seen as as stuffy and consigned to room 101 along with Austrian blinds; fabric headboards are enjoying a revival and for good reason. Whether you commission a custom made headboard or create one yourself, the simple structure is an easy way to both create impact and pull a room together. Fabric headboards work well with almost any style and are equally effective in a small or large space. In fact, a headboard can almost exert greater effect in a smaller space, likewise a matching pair of head boards on twin single beds adds order and uniformity to a guest or children's room. 

alt="plush headboard with button detailing"

Style of headboard

Hotel designers use headboards to great effect, a simple way in which to add opulence to a room where space is often at a premium, a headboard can add both height and comfort to a room without incurring huge expense. This style can work well for an apartment or city Airbnb, the classic luxury hotel look uses velvet with button detailing on a headboard and max's out on height to create a luxurious finish. The shape of the board together with the chosen fabric will determine the style of the room, there are no limits as to the shape of the headboard. from a simple demi lume board to the scallop edging that is very now, or a classic rectangle bedhead. Consider the size of the room you are designing for and more importantly the height. When space is tight it often pays to go large with the headboard rather than small which can emphasise the confines of the room.

alt="fabric covered headboard with shaped detailing to the top"

An example of shaped detailing to the top of a headboard, this is further emphasised by two rows of nail head trim, a design detail that is easy to add.

Upholstery Fabric Choices

Once the shape and size has been decided it is down to the fabric and like the shape, the fabric choice will be dictated by the design of the room. As long as the fabric is of a suitable weight and therefore suitable for use as upholstery fabric you can choose from linen, tweed, velvet and cottons. Consider the overall effect you are looking to create. A rich mustard velvet against a dark painted wall creates a rich and luxurious design. A warm wool tweed is perfect for a rural setting, where the browns and purples that are a feature of the rural landscape can be used in the interior to great effect. A natural linen upholstery fabric, works well with almost any style from a Scandinavian decor to an austere contemporary look. Our range of toile de jouy upholstery fabric is a classic choice for this type of upholstery, a design classic that won't date and a fabric that will soften the overall look. 

alt="duck egg toile de Jouy upholstery fabric"

Toile de Jouy offers a classic choice perfect for creating a headboard, this print is available in a range of colours.

alt="Herringbone weave linen upholstery fabric"

Herringbone weave linen is ideal for rustic inspired decor or a contemporary look, linen remains a classic choice that won't date.

alt="Exotic monkey linen upholstery fabric"

The rich colours of our Exotic Monkey linen will create an eye catching head board.

alt="Morris garden upholstery linen in yellow"

The soft warm tones of yellow Gertrude Garden linen make it a great choice for a bedroom.

alt-"Seaspray French ticking upholstery fabric"

Ticking is the classic upholstery fabric, this Sea spray colour is a modern take on a design classic.

How to make a head board

This project is fairly simple and will take a few hours. I generally find that projects such as constructing a head board are made so much easier if you can designate a space in which to work. A space that doesn't require clearing away to make way for dinner, homework or children's crafting!

Once you've decided upon the shape, size and fabric for your design, you will need the following materials and tools to construct the headboard:

  • 1/2 inch plywood
  • The fabric of your choice. Remember to take into consideration the width, and if applicable the pattern repeat.
  • 1 inch foam
  • Batting (Batting is also referred to as Wadding)
  • Nail head trim

Plywood can be purchased at any DIY store and if you visit with your dimensions, there is usually someone on hand to cut it to size, saving you the job, particularly helpful if you don't have access to a jigsaw. For the upholstery materials check out online stores such as 

You will also require these tools:

  • Jigsaw (you can also used a hand saw, but a jigsaw is both quicker and more accurate, especially if you're creating a shaped head board.)
  • Staple gun
  • Rubber mallet (better still,  an upholsterer's hammer if you have one)
  • Drill with screw driver attachment
  • Utility knife such as a Stanley knife.
  • Spray adhesive
  • Clamp clips
  • Steam iron
  • D-rings
alt="Using a jigsaw to cut plywood"

    Step by step

    1. Cut your plywood to size, a more simple process if you are creating a straight forward rectangle. If your design is more intricate, mark out the design with a pencil before cutting with the jigsaw, sand the edges to create a smooth professional finish.
    2. Lay the foam out and place the board on top of the foam. Mark the edge of the board and then cut along the board edges with the Stanley knife. The result should be a piece of foam the exact same size as the board.
    3. Repeat the process using the batting, only this time allow a couple of inches overhang all the way round. This will create the soft upholstered edge to your head board.
    4. Adhere the foam to the board using the spray adhesive and allow to dry completely.
    5. Lay the batting out and place the board foam side down onto the batting. Ensure the board is central, giving an even overlap right the way round when you start to pull the batting over. Secure the batting onto the back of the board using the stapler, pulling it taut each time to create an even upholstered finish.
    6. Check you fabric is crease free, now is the moment to give it an iron if required! Place your board the right way up and place the fabric over it. Use the clamp clips to secure it into place and then place the board right side down to finish. Take the stapler and once more work around the board, pulling the fabric taut and even. Fold the corners in to create a smooth professional finish. Trim any excess fabric to finish.
    7. If you have chosen to trim your head board, lay the trim out and start in the bottom left hand corner. Secure the nail trim at intervals using the nails and the mallet. Take care to continue to pull it taut and check it is straight
    8. Finally apply the d-rings to the reverse, take care to secure them evenly as this will make hanging the board so much easier.

    alt="Using a stapler to to upholster a headboard"

    Using a staple gun to pull the fabric taut.

    alt=" Loft style bedroom featuring a headboard"

    This headboard picks out the muted tones of the exposed brickwork.

    Creating a head board is a fun and easy way to add impact to any room. It's also a cost effective design hack, one where even a remnant can be used to great effect.

    For further how to inspiration, YouTube is a rich source of tutorials, although the design of the head boards are generally more American.

    For design inspiration, check out this piece on House & Garden Magazine website

    Have fun 

    Alex x