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. says

    We weren’t as enterprising as y’all and ended up getting a really good deal on a platform bed with an upholstered/nailhead headboard from Wayfair. Other than loving how it looks in our room (makes it look way more finished) I was surprised at how much of a sound barrier it is! We don’t live in a loud neighborhood by any means, but as soon as I was in bed that first night it just seemed more…silent! Which is good when you want to sleep! Have y’all noticed that with your new cushy headboard?

    • says

      I haven’t noticed that (our neighborhood is pretty quiet and our bed is in the back of the house) but I’ll have to listen tonight and see if I notice that!


  2. says

    I did nearly the exact same thing this weekend! Who knew that making your own headboards was so popular (and easy!). Certainly beats the multi-thousand dollar alternative of buying a plush fabric headboard at a store. My blog is covering my headboarding adventures this week… I’m going to be attaching mine to my bed a little differently than you though.

    Also, you guys are awesome. I love your blog.

  3. Jen says

    1. I fell in love with your blog last week and i can’t get enough! Spending far too much time here! I can’t wait until I have my own home, but for now decorating and redecorating my apartment will have to do.
    2. This post is just perfect timing! A friend recently moved into her own place (moving up from the parents’ house!) and I told her my gift would be a headboard. I was thinking about doing it pretty much the way you did, but I was wondering what suggestions you might have for mounting it. It will be behind a bed that is just your standard metal stand, box spring, and mattress. I thought about getting an extra tall piece of ply wood so that the bottom is on the floor, but then I wouldn’t be able to wrap the fabric under the bottom. I could mount it to the wall, I’m just not sure how I would keep it from flopping around like it’s just a picture frame on the wall! Any suggestions from you or your followers would be great!! Much love from Bethesda!

    • says

      I would check out our project page for a headboard we made with a canvas stretcher frame that’s so easy to hang on the wall! Otherwise a french cleat (google that to see for more details) can always work. Hope it helps!


    • Jen says

      Thanks so much, Sherry! I think I will try to go the french cleat route with this sturdier version you guys have! Hopefully it’ll turn out as good as I see it in my head!

  4. Tiffany says

    Everything looks so great guys! This is a random question and hopefully not a repeat, but what is that cute little yellow book I’ve been noticing next to the bed? I love the tiny pop of bright color and it keeps catching my eye!

  5. says

    Oh. My. Goodness. I love, love, love the room now. All of it. I love all the fabrics together and I love the bed in all it’s unadorned glory. It looks really great you guys. That headboard fabric is AMAZING.

    I, too, wanted an upholstered headboard, but didn’t want to pay the $574 dollars for the Pottery Barn one I coveted. So I made one. And saved $532 buckaroos. Um, yeah, not bad for a days work. Here’s the link if ya wanna check it out:

  6. Carla says

    I’m a new YLH addict who discovered you through the “Top 100 Blogs for Women” list Forbes just released; congrats! Your bedroom is beautiful! I think I’m in the minority, but I love the current paint color. The dark color starts feeling too matchy-matchy and less airy; I think the current paint color actually provides another “layer” of interest. Thanks for sharing your lives with all of us for inspiration!

    • says

      If we have a spare moment to take the mirror down, take a pic, and upload it we will! Otherwise maybe just cover it with your thumb? Haha. We definitely prefer it with the mirror, but it’s a different strokes for different folks thing! It looked empty without it!


  7. Jennifer says

    I would love to DIY an upholstered headboard but doesn’t the fabric get grubby over time? Does anyone have experience with this? Especially if you are leaning against it in one spot all the time….. How hard would it be to unstaple and wash the fabric? It’s not that we are dirty or anything (this is sounding worse and worse!) but have you ever noticed how especially on hubby’s side, the pillows get a bit sweat stained over time and it doesn’t really wash out well (oh dear, getting even worse!) and this is with weekly washing of bedding….. OK, I sound like a freak. But I’d like to know. Thank goodness this is fairly anonymous – ha!

    • says

      We had a green upholstered headboard for the past seven years (in my apartment in NYC, our apartment in Richmond, in our bedroom and then our guest bedroom, it’s still there now!) and it looks great! I think people are generally clean when they get into bed and you lean back on pillows behind you (not necessarily resting your whole body on the headboard – ya know?) so if you use nice durable upholstery grade fabric it should be great! You could also unstaple it (pop the staples out with a screwdriver) every few years if you wanted to launder the fabric and then staple it back on!


  8. elizabeth says

    I’m really interested in the remote for the lamp that you mentioned – we have a lamp in the bedroom that that would be perfect for! Could you post a link? Thanks!

  9. says

    Oooh I luuurve that fabric so much! I want it on my duvet and on my couch cushions and possibly on my body.

    Love the headboard and I think the darker walls would be gorgeous. I think it would make the bed and new headboard pop!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *