DIY Upholstered Headboard

To add a personal touch to our bedroom, we decided to make our own upholstered headboard.

Want to learn how we did it in one afternoon?  Read on to find out.

1.  Know your dimensions.  We got a new king-sized bed, so that determined the width we needed.  We also planned to hang it on the wall (rather than try to attach it to the bed) so we then figured out how high we needed it.

2.  Get your board.  Get a piece of 1/2-inch plywood cut to size at a big-box hardware store (they usually cut it for free).

3.  Choose your fabric.  You’ll want something rather weighty that will stand the test of time.  We chose this one from a book of fabrics in a design store.  It was expensive, but overall much less expensive than buying a finished headboard, so we decided to splurge.

Creating the basis for a beautiful palette with so many colors to choose from

Oh, and choose a pattern you won’t get sick of!  Timeless is preferable to trendy – unless you plan on starting this whole process over really soon 😉

4.  Add depth.  We added a 1/2-inch trim on the back to make the whole thing appear thicker.  (We didn’t want super thick board because it would have been too heavy to hang).

5.  Glue your foam padding.  We got 3/4-inch foam from an upholstery store (they sell it in giant rolls).  We gave the guy our dimensions and they cut it to size, and even offered to do a (free!) diagonal cut along the edges to give us a smoother finish.  Cool.  Secure it in place with spray glue.  (Use spray glue outside if you can – it stinks!)

Foam padding with a diagonal cut

6.  Tack on your batting.  The batting is the white cushy fabric that makes it all work, smooth and uniform.  Without it, the edges would be too sharp, and could wear down and fray your pretty finish.  Also sold in rolls, just get the amount you need to extend maybe 6 inches larger than your board.

Start in the middle and pull it taught but not too tight, tacking with a staple gun every few inches.  Work your way toward the corners, and finally, tack down the corners.

We have an air gun but a manual staple gun will do a great job too.

See what works for you.  We tried hospital corners, and diagonal corners.

We ended up with excess fabric to snip away.

It ain’t pretty, but it works!

7.  Tack on your fabric finish.  Repeat Step 6, but with your nice fabric.

work in progress…  fabric is tacked and we’ve got two out of three buttons done.

8.  Make it your own.  We added 3 handmade buttons for a tufted look, and nailhead trim.  We made the buttons with a $3 button-maker from Fabricville (so cool!)

Making buttons out of pieces of scrap fabric

Coolest gadget ever!
The button is threaded through a loop and pulled into the board, then you tie the string in the back.

don’t tell anyone but this was super easy for such a professional finish 😉

We ordered the nailhead tacks from the same place we got the foam and the batting.  Adding the nailhead was really fun and super satisfying.  Now I’m always looking for more stuff to trim with nailhead.

They’re not super straight, but that’s part of the charm.  It’s not made by machine 🙂

9.  Hang it and you’re done!  Make sure you get heavy-duty hardware designed for the heaviest of artwork, and look for the studs in your walls for added security.

For the full story on this bedroom makeover, please check out Part 1 and Part 2.  Enjoy!  xo
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Val Lonergan is the founder of, where she shares happiness hacks for purposeful people. To get the ZenShmen cheatsheet to jumpstart your joy - 10 easy things you can do right this minute to hack your way to increased happiness - join the free newsletter.
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