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. emily says

    HOLY MACKAREL. This might be my favorite project y’all have *ever* done. Our bed could accommodate this type of project, too, and I might have to tackle it one day!!

    Thank you soooooo much for the inspiration and the instructions. Keep on keepin’ on, Petersiks!

  2. Katie says

    If you didn’t have Ed’s old headboard to attach the new plywood one to, how would you do it? For instance, if you had just a mattress and box springs? Your old headboard tutorial is for hanging a framed headboard, not plywood. Just curious because I have some old plywood I was thinking of putting to use as a new headboard…thanks!

    • says

      I would attach it to the wall or add legs so it could be freestanding. Check out our projects page to see how to make a headboard that’s easy to hang on the wall!


  3. says

    It looks fabulous! My husband and I LOVE our upholstered headboard and swear we won’t ever have anything else – it’s so nice to lean one while reading in bed! I love the fabric choice!

  4. Trela says

    Looks fab! It really makes your ginko pillows fit — Loved the rug you chose immediately, but the pillows were a hard sell for me. Now it blends beautifully.

    My own headboard is waiting to get a similar treatment — we lived with an old door as a headboard for years, it’s currently getting a new paint job and new lighting (my husband attached wall sconces to it when it was in our room… hotel style, very cool) for its new life in our guest room. My life has been paint stripping and sanding for the last three days. It will be nice to toss the paint brush for a while to go fabric shopping when I get to my own room!

  5. Christine says

    So pretty! I swear Burger got an extra serving of personality when he was made. I know the darker stain and paint are probably officially “better,” like more design-y correct, etc., but I sorta kinda like the variety of shades, even if they are mismatched. There’s something comforting and homey about it.

  6. says

    I LOVE it! I am so excited to do our headboard now. Maybe this weekend for my birthday project :) And I think the room would be awesome a few shades darker – I like the sunny light color you have now, but the darker photoshopped color made it all look cozier.

  7. Stacy says

    Not like you need an excuse to buy pillows (sorry, John) but I would love to see how gray colored pillows would look in the mix. Might help give the dark feel John is looking for until the walls and floors are redone in a darker shade.
    Ed’s makeover is awesome but John’s face already told you that ;)

  8. says

    So beautiful!! I love it! I’m also a fan of painting the room that darker shade, but I would, I love dark, dramatic walls. :)

  9. says

    I am such a fan of headboards compared to posts! So much prettier and more comfortable!

    I think that if you stain the floors, you should totally leave the dresser alone. It’s great a great aged patina look going on and it’d be a shame to change that. Plus, it would look great against darker wood floors. But I love natural wood (although some painted pieces are nice too). I recently just stripped the paint off my front door and am waiting on getting some help from the “professional” (aka my dad) as to finishing it off… it can be seen here: -it’s defintely come a long way but need some more TLC to make it beautiful, but it’s solid oak so it’s going to shine!!

    • says

      The front door looks great! As for the dresser, we have lived with it as-is for over a year and still are promising to think long and hard before doing anything. Who knows where we’ll end up!


  10. says

    You guys seriously killed it with this one. I’m obsessed with upholstered headboards (as seen by my pinterest boards), but I was a little skeptical of patterns. Not anymore… it looks AMAZING!

  11. says

    I know you already answered the “skipping the foam” question, but I’d love to for you to do an update about this down the road to let us know if the batting holds up (the corners don’t poke through, etc). We love our DIY headboard, and I wish there was a way to save a little when we make one for another room… the high-density foam is PRICEY!

    • says

      Oh yes, we can do an update! We have had a batting and fabric upholstered headboard for over 7 years though (the green one in our guest room was something I used while living in NYC, in our apartment in Richmond, and in the bedroom and then guest room for years here in VA) so it definitely holds up if you use two layers of extra loft batting (the thickest kind they sell) with upholstery grade fabric!


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