DIY Upholstered Headboard

First, thank you all for your comments on the progress we've made with our master bedroom redo! I say that like my husband was all about this project... ha! I actually think he is coming around to the idea of making things ourselves though, he was pretty shocked when I told him this headboard cost a grand total of $110! And brace yourselves because this post is picture heavy.

You can see the updated tutorial with much prettier photos and a diagram of the headboard dimensions here!

And now back to the old iPhone photos... 

I had very specific requirements in mind for our headboard, which is why I ultimately decided to forgo the logical decision of purchasing a headboard and attempting to make one on my own.  Of course, as an overachiever a beginner DIY-er, I had to challenge myself. You can see my inspiration here, but the one headboard that really stuck with me is the Z Gallerie 'Grayson Bed' which retails at about $1,200.

Obviously that was not happening. I didn't get the bed frame I wanted but I'm okay with that because I managed to tick all of my other boxes for a headboard:
  1. Grey, velvet-like fabric
  2. Taller than most headboards so it will be noticed with all of our pillows arranged
  3. Nailhead trim
  4. Fabric all the way down the sides, onto the legs of the frame so that if you happen to see the side, it won't look ugly
  5. Make sure the legs can be screwed into the bed frame if needed (we haven't done that yet, it seems to be holding well with the frame pushed up against it)
  6. For the love of God, it cannot look homemade
Note: If you are considering making your own headboard, please save yourself the headaches, cursing, and staple gun injuries by choosing a more simple shape or even avoiding velvet for your fabric. More on that later...

There are tons and tons of upholstered headboard tutorials out there, but this tutorial from Sara at Running from the Law was by far the best. She has lots of great pictures and seems better than me at using the jig saw, so feel free to check that out if this tutorial blows. ha!

What you need:

1 (23/32 x 4 x 8) piece of Plywood, uncut: $25
1 (1 x 6 x 12) piece of lumber, we used Top Choice from Lowes and had it cut in half: $12
Staple Gun: Own
1 pack of 3/8" (10mm) Staples: Own
Hi-Loft Batting in Twin Size: $16 (with coupon at Joann's)
Twin Foam Mattress Pad: $10 from Walmart
1 50-pack of 1 1/4" Wood Screws: $6
Spray Adhesive: $5 (I used Aleene's Tacky Spray from Joann's with a coup)
Nail Head Trim: $11 (with coupon at Joann's)
Rubber Mallet: Own (randomly found this in my car's emergency kit?)
Jig Saw: Borrowed
Circular Saw: Didn't actually use one, but if you have one it would be helpful
Fabric: $25 (I used one 55" x 98" "Sanela" Ikea curtain panel)

Total: $110 (or $118 if you count the 2 x 6 x 12 lumber the guys talked me into buying because they weren't understanding my design plan... don't be intimidated at Lowes, ladies!)

First we cut the plywood down to the size I wanted it with our Queen bed, which was 63" wide by 65" tall (at the tallest point).

Next, I already had the shape of my headboard in mind so we used a paper bag to make a stencil. I traced the left side, then flipped over the stencil and did the same on the right side. You could also use a compass but my shape was a bit too advanced for a compass, of course!

Cut your headboard shape, and remember... safety first!

He's going to hate me for posting that picture, but I did warn him. Also, I forgot to take pictures of us cutting the headboard to shape...  must have been distracted from my husband's sexiness in those glasses....

Because I knew I would be upholstering this and the nailheads would need something to hammer into, I decided to follow Sara's tutorial and frame the headboard with the piece of lumber (as the legs) and the left over plywood for the top of the headboard and leg reinforcements. Does that even make sense?! Your legs can be as long as you want them to be, but ours stick out 21 inches from the bottom of the headboard.

Please ignore the mess in our garage!
That part was tricky because the leftover plywood wasn't the length of the headboard. We ended up having to piece it together and even though there are a few tiny gaps, those won't matter in the long run.

We then attached the legs and the frame pieces to the plywood with the wood screws, about every 6-8 inches.


You can see in this photo that the legs have extra pieces of plywood on the backside so that everything is flush with the headboard. We decided not to trim them to match the 1 x 6, too much effort and no one will know once you upholster it. 

Next, cut your foam padding to fit within the frame you just completed before spraying the plywood with adhesive and sticking the foam to the board.

Easy peasy. Next I put the batting underneath of the headboard and started stapling.

I go a little overboard with the staple gun, y'all. It totally wasn't necessary to use an entire pack of staples but I did and I'm not ashamed of it. The curves of the headboard were a bitch and the only solution I had after finishing a bottle of wine was going staple-crazy. The last thing I wanted was to finally reveal the headboard I spent hours on and it have a bunch of puckering and bunching.

Before moving on, trim all of the excess batting.

Once I got to the actual fabric, it was basically the same process as the batting. However, this velvet fabric was out to get me and I am so thankful Steve helped because my hand was sore from stapling at this point. It also helps to have one person pulling the fabric, and the other stapling.

I worked my way around the headboard, only doing a few staples on the top, then bottom, then the sides. I continued this process, saving the curves and most of the top of the headboard for last.

It helps to cut the fabric in 'V' shapes in the curved portions to minimize puckering. But let me tell you, this fabric refused to cooperate. I almost cut it too far to where you would see it ripping onto the side of the headboard. AH!

Terrible, terrible curves! At least we won't see the back!
I used leftover batting and fabric for the legs and did those the same exact way.

It was getting dark at this point

Applying the nailhead trim was actually easier than I imagined. You only have to nail every 5th nail into the wood and its flexible enough that you can bend it however you need it for the curved portions. The trick is keeping it straight, so I used my leveler because it was the perfect width from the edge of the headboard.

My first attempt at keeping the nailhead trim straight was using painter's tape, but when I pulled it off some of my super high quality Ikea velvet came out. I panicked at the time, but you don't notice it now unless you look really close.

I actually got into a rhythm when doing the nailhead trim and it only took about 20 minutes.

Finally, sit your headboard up on its legs and admire your work! Then, pop open another bottle of wine or some pumpkin beer and put your feet up!

For more of the finished product, visit here. I've actually gotten a lot accomplished since then so hopefully the final reveal will be soon!

Do any of you think you'll give it a shot? If you have any questions, let me know! I know it looks a bit complicated but its totally doable with some patience and in my case, wine. 

Savvy Southern Style


  1. So impressed!! That looks amazing!

  2. That looks incredible! You are so handy!

    1. Thank you so much Megan!! All you can do is try, right? :)

  3. That is awesome!! I upholstered a foot bench for our master bedroom, but I think that was the limit of my capabilities. Great job!

  4. The headboard looks so good! I still can't believe y'all made it. It looks professional! I was really surprised that applying the nailhead trim wasn't too hard! I figured that'd be one of the hardest things! Good job!

  5. This is so impressive! It definitely doesn't look handmade, which is awesome! I have not attempted any DIY projects yet, I don't think I have those skills, haha. I can't even hang a picture frame on the wall correctly. :D

  6. I love it! It turned out so great! Definitely worth all of the trouble.

  7. This looks so good!! I told my husband this is his next project!! Hoping to get a larger bed soon so I'll wait so we get the right dimensions.

    1. Guess what...I am baaaack! I just sent this to my husband in an email titled CHRISTMAS haha. Let's see if he bites my bait :)

  8. WOW! I can't believe how good that looks. We did our own headboard, too, but it doesn't look nearly as nice as this. :) I love the nail head trim!

  9. That is very impressive. I love your style!

    FYI - giveaway at my blog!

    ~ Ashley @ A Cute Angle

  10. Very nice! Your headboard DEFINITELY does not look homemade!

  11. I said it before, but I am SO IMPRESSED!! Amazing!

  12. Obsessing over your headboard!! Awesome job, so impressed!!!

  13. Wow, that's impressive! I may attempt this, but I will likely keep it rectangle - keepin' it simple :)

    I'll let you know how it goes!

    1. Thank you!! A rectangle would be much easier, but you can totally do it no matter the shape. I'm so glad we didn't buy one because its so much cheaper to DIY. Definitely let me know how it comes out! :)

  14. Looks great! I've been wanting to try making one, you may have inspired me to get started!

  15. Thank you so much Carrie, I really appreciate the kind words! I hope my tutorial was helpul! :) I will definitely check out your link up!

  16. I absolutely love this headboard. You did such a great job!! I'm hosting a fall wreath giveaway that you should enter!

  17. Thanks for sharing this at Wow last week. I will be featuring it when the party goes up tomorrow morning.

  18. It looks amazing!!!! I found you via the link up party. What a great tutorial! I really have to try this soon! Yours turned out gorgeous!!!!!


  19. This looks great. I know Im a little but I'm actually about to tackle my own King sized headboard. I purchased upholstery grade chenille and was wondering if the one mattress pad provides enough cushion for a bed. I found a place locally that will cut foam to my exact proportions but it cost almost $50.


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