How To Make An Upholstered Headboard, Part 2

Woot, it’s done! Remember yesterday when we left off here?

Now we’re here. And we’re in love.

Little did we know that the first shot of this post might actually be the most “helpful” when it comes to seeing how the headboard fabric plays off the rug. In person, from the door it looks just as good together – but these far away pics just don’t capture it (maybe it’s time to take a photography class). At least the closer detail shots are a little more accurate than the wider ones. But you’ll just have to come over to see things in real life.

 I might even let you get under the duvet. If Burger’s not in there defending his turf…

Eventually we’d love to stain the floors and maybe even the dresser (not rushing into that though), so it might look more like this someday…

John has actually been campaigning to repaint the walls a little darker for a while now, so who knows – we might end up here someday (really quick photoshop job, so squint):

But for now we’re just enjoying things as they are. It’s so much cozier to read in bed now (we made the headboard extra plush- more on that in a minute). And Burger seems to like using the new fabric as camouflage.

Oh and that picture reminds me. There were lots of questions about if we could comfortably reach our side tables/lamps from bed. Thankfully John’s side is the nook side, and he has quite the wingspan – so it hasn’t been an issue after over a week of living like this. He actually complained more about the old side tables (they were low, so we both had to reach down a lot – and we couldn’t open the drawers from bed since they were beneath us) but the new “normal” height of our side tables has been great so far. If we decide over time that the lamp distance annoys us, they also sell little light remotes at Home Depot, so we’ll let you know if we go that route. But so far, so good.

The room has definitely “come into its own” in a pretty awesome way for us over the last few weeks of rearranging and bed-post cutting (which were two blissfully free and less-than-an-hour projects, so thank goodness for those!). Remember when things looked like this?

As for how we finished our little headboard project, after the frame was built, we laid out four yards of extra loft batting that we got (from JoAnn Fabrics for $4 thanks to a 50% off coupon) – which was enough to do two thick layers to make it extra plush. So I trimmed just two yards of it to go around the headboard frame as the first layer.

Then I pulled it taut and stapled it around the back perimeter of the headboard. Then John made me pose for this awkward photo. Winning.

Close ups are where it’s at. Just call me Staple Gun Sally:

Here’s how I did the corner. Just like wrapping a present. You just fold it back and staple it so it all looks smooth from the front. Bam, bam, bam – it’s done.

Eventually the whole thing was stapled nice and tightly.

We lifted it up to make sure it all looked taut and wrinkle free from the front. Then I rolled out more batting for a second layer (call it extra credit when it comes to a cushy result).

Again I trimmed around it and used the staple gun to secure it around the back perimeter of the frame, being sure to pull it tightly as I went.

Then John leaned it up so we could check it out again- just to make sure it was wrinkle free. I love this picture of Clara peeking up at John holding her bag of crackers. #crackersmakeeverythingbetter

Then I ironed our fabric to make sure it was nice and smooth. It’s by Braemore, called Gazebo in colourway “Cloud” which was $20 a yard from a local fabric outlet called U-Fab (here’s an affiliate link to it on amazon for any non-locals). We actually bought this fabric for a book project that we completed in January (so you’ll see it as something entirely different than a headboard in the book, which is kind of fun) but it was awesome to be able to reuse it for this project. We liked how the occasional leafy splashes of turquoise in the headboard fabric picked up that color in the rug, but brought in a natural and organic sort of vibe (whereas the rug is very geometric and symmetrical, so a little more loose softness is nice for the room). It didn’t feel like an obvious choice like something that matched more directly or was more symmetrical/geometric, so maybe that’s what we love it so much?

But back to the bidness of upholstering the thing. As for adding our top layer of fabric over our batting, just like we laid out the batting under the headboard as it was facing down towards the floor, we did the same for the fabric, making sure it was pulled taut underneath the headboard to avoid any wrinkles. Then I trimmed the perimeter of the fabric around the headboard as a guide (leaving a few inches for it to be wrapped and stapled around the back, just as I had with the batting).

Next I got busy stapling each side of the headboard, being sure to pull it extra tight so it won’t end up all loose and baggy over time. I started with one side, pulling it all very tightly, then stapled along the opposite side, again pulling it nice and tight.

Once it was secured on those two sides, I did the same thing to keep it secured vertically, by pulling tightly and stapling the top side and pulling it tightly and stapling the bottom side as well.

Then we flipped the headboard up to see it in all of it’s plush, tightly upholstered glory. Bing, bam, boom. The whole upholstery step took less than forty five minutes to complete. Is it weird to call it one of my favorite fabric projects to date? I just love love love the pattern.

Next we carried it into the bedroom to attach it to Ed’s original headboard (which was so short that you never even saw it behind our pillows). The new one is such an upgrade! See how plush it is from this angle? It’s cushy, but tight – so we won’t worry about it getting baggy with everyday lounging against it.

As for the attachment process, we pulled the bed out from the wall so we could scoot behind it and pre-drill some holes into the original headboard and then used screws that we were sure weren’t going to go through the fabric (the key is to go with something long enough to pass through the old headboard and half of the new one but not all the way through) to attach the new headboard to the old headboard in six different places.

Here’s the view from the back:

And from the front:

Once it was attached, we just pushed the bed back into place and beamed at it. Once again I’ll take a moment to moan that this picture does it no justice and in person the way the headboard sort of subtly plays off the rug is really cool. In these pics it sort of looks like “independent events” but in real life it relates without being too matchy, so we love it. You know what the answer is, right? Sleepover party at our house to see it in person. Who’s down?

Another picture? Why not.

The fabric is sort of like the bridge between the yellow ginko pillows (since there are greeny-yellow flowers in the headboard fabric) and the turquoise in the rug (thanks to those subtle leafy sprigs of turquoise in the headboard).

It’s hard to capture the feathery lightness of the chandelier on camera (in person it’s really soft, sort of like a lace-like dandelion) but this picture captures it pretty well. It just layers into the room, and the added pattern in the new headboard mixed with some colorful accent pillows feels like just the right mix of happy + calm.

I think Burger looks especially dapper in front of this new backdrop.

Look at that handsome boy.

As for a budget breakdown here we go:

  • Wood frame (plywood and some bracing boards from Home Depot): $22
  • Two layers of extra loft batting (from JoAnn thanks to a 50% off coupon): $4
  • Discount designer fabric (from a local fabric outlet called U-Fab): already owned – but it was originally $20/yard ($40 total)
  • Total spent: $66 (if you add in the fabric we previously bought for a book project and reused for this)

Sixty six bucks isn’t pennies, but compared to upholstered headboards that are sold at places like Overstock, it’s at least $100-200 cheaper than even the most basic types. And considering places like Ballard Designs charge around $400-$700 for custom headboards (where you get to pick the fabric) it was awesome to get to choose the fabric and whip this up ourselves.

It definitely makes a difference to have something substantial behind the bed and the mirror hung higher. Of course we’re just using what we have on the walls (that’s an already-owned-it mirror leftover from the living room, art that used to hang in another corner, etc) but it works for now. I’m sure things will evolve over time, so we’ll just have to keep ya posted…

But we love how it has been shaping up in there lately. See how the mirror was sort of too-lined-up with the art in the nook next to it before? Everything felt too much on the same plane – and the bed looked a little bit lonely & bare.

Then look back at the picture above this one. Isn’t it funny how breaking up that perfectly-aligned-mirror-and-art-business somehow makes that back wall feel better? Maybe because the new height of the mirror ties more into the chandelier than the art next to it? And the art above the dresser is aligned with the top of the leaning mirror on the left?

Is it weird to be in love with a headboard?

I think so, but I’m ok with it.

Anyone else making headboards with fabric? What about wood or something even more unusual, like tin? We have four different DIY headboard projects in our book (all of which we made and shot in various corners of our house) and only one of them is fabric – so there are definitely other ways to go! I think we just were craving the plush softness of something padded to lean on. You know what they say (and by they I mean Al Green and Bill Withers): we all need somebody to lean on.

Yes, yes we do.


  1. t says

    I like the fabric you chose – it’s a nice flowy, soft pattern.

    Don’t stain that dresser; it looks great the way it is. I think different woods, stains are more interesting in a room and give it more a layered look.

    • says

      We promise to think long and hard before rushing into anything! In person the dresser needs some work (it has stains/scratches, etc) but we’re not rushing into anything!


    • sophie says

      ditto – the fabric is lovely and it works well.

      But don’t stain the dresser and floor darker. then it all starts to look generic, rather than fun. and it makes teh room much heavier and darker.(sure the dresser needs some work, but you can do the work without going dark)

    • says

      We promise to take things one step at a time and just make our room fit for us! It’s probably not going to be the same exact series of choices that others would take if it were there room (everyone has to take their own path) but we try not to rush into anything, so who knows where we’ll end up! Will keep you posted for sure!


  2. Alecia says

    I am sooo not good at all the DIY stuff, but I need to get with it! This headbord is the bees knees and you guys always make things look easy! I am uber jealous of all of your cuteness! Nice job. Can I sleep in your room? So pretty!! :)

  3. Steph says

    Okay, I may have just laughed out loud at that picture of John creepily loving on the headboard in a conference room waiting for a meeting to start, hahaha!
    The headboard looks perfect, like it was made for that room! The room is coming together so nicely with your latest upgrades to it! I also love how it looks like Burger is trying to be part of the design in the pattern, hah.

  4. Bethindc says

    A quiet vote here for not staining the dresser. The glowing reddish wood tones are perfect as is, and tho I know photoshop is a bit of a blunt instrument, a darker stain might really kill the charm of the piece. And–another argument–dark dresser, dark floor, dark mirror might verge on the dreaded matchy-matchy.

    • says

      We don’t mind a few things having the same finish as long as other things are different (ex: we have a white nightstand, a light mocha chair, and a dark mirror- so if we stained the floors dark and the one night stand stayed white, we don’t think a dark dresser is too matchy- it’s all part of the mix). But who knows where we’ll end up!


  5. E.Lefebvre says

    I LOVE it! Beautiful! This is one of my favorite projects you’ve done, and I think it’s in part due to the fabric, which is great! I’m excited to see it with the refinished floor, although I have to say, I have a soft spot for the red/medium wood of your dresser. Anyway, it looks great!

  6. Claire says

    Hi, I’m a daily reader but almost-never commenter.

    I love the headboard. You are so right about the combo of the geometric carpet + botanical-y print. Congratulations!

    Can you tell us about your staple gun? What brand, etc.? Lightweight, heavyweight, easy to find replacement staples? I bought what I thought was a “basic” one once, and had lots of problems.

    • says

      We got it for around $20 at Home Depot. Don’t even remember the brand and it’s just all silver (no brand name on it) but it seems to work well! Sorry I don’t have more info. Anyone else have a staple gun they love?


  7. Christy says

    Headboards are such an easy way to update a room. I’m totally a novice compared to you all, but I was able to make mine. I used an old quilted throw that I had bought that matched my summer and winter comforters as my fabric. Mine was a little more expensive because I used foam instead of batting material. Other than that, I did basically the same steps you did. Oh, and I used three small metal claw things (not sure what they are called) to mount it instead of a piece of wood. It just slides on and off.

  8. Taya says

    Looks great! I love the Teal/Yellow combination and the new arrangement makes it seem cozy yet airy and relaxing at the same time. Not going to lie…. I’m kind of jealous of your newly improved space!

  9. Tara L says

    Looks so beautiful! Any suggestions for how to incorporate a headboard when all you have is a bed frame? Is there a way to attach it to the bed, as opposed to hanging it on the wall behind it?

  10. carrie says

    “John has actually been campaigning to repaint the walls…” That is so funny to me. I cannot imagine my husband requesting to repaint anything. Go John!

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