DIY Upholstered Headboard


Newly upholstered headboard

I have spent the last year swooning over the plethora of upholstered headboards out there…from leather, to patterned, to ones with nail-head trim.  However, given that we’re likely to upgrade to a king size bed in the next few years, I couldn’t bring myself to spend $$$ on a decent headboard just to store it in the basement down the road.  In comes the DIY upholstered headboard!  After scouring the web for DIY tutorials using existing headboards, I decided to take the plunge and make myself a new headboard!


Before shot of our ugly faux-wood headboard

After having spent the last 6 years with this terrible headboard (see below), I was ready for a change.  At first glance, you may think “it’s not so bad.”  Well, from far away, it’s not.  But, at close range you can see it’s yet another cheap, particular board, faux-wood headboard purchased during the college years…and quite frankly, should have stayed there.  Considering it’s made the move from Florida to Ohio to Pennsylvania, it’s held up quite well!  That being said, it’s ugly.

Below I outline the materials and steps you can use to transform your own headboard into something beautiful.


  1. Existing headboard (or cut piece of plywood)
  2. Fabric (add an extra 2 ft to your width and height measurements)
  3. Foam (I used an old twin-sized egg crate)
  4. Batting (used an old twin-sized mattress pad)
  5. Staple gun

Since I upcycled the egg crate and mattress pad, and I already had the headboard and staple gun, the only cost of the project was for the fabric, which was $38 for three yards.  Awesome!

Step 1: Find inspiration.  I looked on Pinterest, my favorite furniture and design sites (Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Joss & Main, One Kings Lane, Decor Pad), and looked to see what spoke to me.

Step 2: Find your fabric.  After considering a variety of fabrics (solids, faux leather, textured) I chose a modern gray/cream pattern that complemented our existing paisley fabric but didn’t compete with it.  I ended up choosing Cross Section Charcoal (at the time on sale for $11.99 a yard!).  When deciding how much fabric to order/cut, you should measure the width of your headboard and add 12 in to each side, or 2 ft extra.  This will give you plenty of room to staple over the other layers of materials.

  • Tip: When mixing patterns, it’s important to consider color and scale.  Keeping the patterns in the same color family (in this case greys, blues and creams) helps the patterns blend together.  Also, keeping one pattern bold and the other subtle helps maintain balance.  The paisley, while very detailed, is also a large pattern.  Keeping the geometric pattern of the headboard small in scale allows the paisley to stand and the headboard to serve as a backdrop.

Step 3: Gather your materials.  I already had many of the materials (egg crate, mattress pad, headboard), but if you don’t, they’re easy to find.  Batting and foam can be found at Michaels or Joann Fabrics.  Also consider buying bedding materials as these may be cheaper!  There are also many helpful tutorials out there about cutting wood to size, preparing it to hang, etc.  Here are some DIY upholstered headboard tips I found.


Center the headboard on the foam {Rocky photo bomb!}

Step 4:  Attach the foam.  Lay the headboard face down on the egg crate.  Make sure the textured side is against the headboard, otherwise you’ll see and feel the texture through your fabric when all is done.  As you can see, for this headboard the twin-size egg crate was plenty big with just the right amount to fold over.  Folding over the foam, staple the foam all around.  Pull it tight (but not too tight as to rip the foam).  You might need to cut around the legs to make sure it wraps around properly.  If your headboard doesn’t have legs and will be mounted on the wall, don’t worry about this.


Staple the foam to the board


View of the stapling around the legs

Step 5:  Attach the batting.  Lay the headboard with foam attached on batting material (or in my case, an old, stretched out mattress pad).  In a similar way as the foam, staple all around ensuring that the material is pull tight.  Rather than stapling through multiple layers of material, I staggered the foam and batting, pulling the batting just over the edge of the foam.  I did the same with the fabric.


Center the headboard on the batting

Step 6: Attach the fabric.  Repeat the steps above using the fabric.  To ensure the fabric was pulled evenly, I stapled a few staples in the 12 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions (in that order).  Then I went back and stapled the rest.  For the fabric around the legs, I tucked the cut edge under and stapled the outside to the leg.  This part will be behind the mattress, so it will be hidden.  Just make the fabric even on both legs so it looks ok.  Finally, I stapled the top corners.  I was very careful to make sure the way the fabric was folded looked good from the front, not just the back.  If the back is against a wall, it doesn’t really matter what it looks like from behind 🙂


Staple the fabric around the back of the headboard, pulling the edges and corners taught

Step 7: Reattach to the bed (or wall).  Altogether (with a break for lunch), this took me about 3 hours to do.  I didn’t rush and didn’t get frustrated (which often happens with my DIY projects), so I would say that alone was a success!  Once I was done, the hubby and I hung the headboard back on the frame of the bed and stood back in awe!

Step 8: Enjoy!  A brand “new” upholstered headboard for less than $40!




It’s amazing how much brighter the room is now!

2 thoughts on “DIY Upholstered Headboard

  1. How did you find out about this website? I love what you have done. Lisa, you are so creative!! It’s great that you have a beautiful home and enjoy decorating and making it comfortable. And I am amazed that you find the time to do these things.

    • Thanks for the support and feedback! I first found out about in a professional development class I took in Cincinnati, but that was strictly work stuff. So, when I was thinking of doing a blog, I turned back to WordPress. It’s great for beginner bloggers but still gives you flexibility to make it your own.

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