Friday, March 9, 2012

DIY Upholstered Headboard

There hasn't been much blog posting around here lately, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been a lot of projects! Look for a few posts coming soon, including ones about a baby shower, some dining room updates and a couple other craft projects.

First up is a new upholstered headboard for the bonus room. We have this great big fourth bedroom above the garage that is the perfect space for guests. We've been in the house for about six years now and up until a couple weeks ago, this room (as well as most of the second floor) still had the builder paint on the walls and the guest bed was nothing more than a mattress and a frame. It always bothered me that our guests never had an inviting, cozy place to stay.

I came across a DIY upholstered headboard tutorial from one of my favorite blogs, Centsational Girl. I really liked the look of the nailhead trim and thought it would be a cute, inexpensive addition to the bonus room. And, my parents were coming in town and I thought this would be a fun project to do together. I LOVE how it turned out!

Here's how we did it:

1 piece of 1/2 inch plywood cut down to size
1 6-foot piece of 1x4 wood cut in half 
4 yards of 8 oz batting - enough for two layers
1 nailhead trim kit in Nickel finish from Beacon Fabrics
2 yards of upholstery fabric - I used Cameo Ovals by Dwell for Robert Allen (available at JoAnn's by special order in the upholstery section or online)
12 bolts and nuts and washers
1 yard of 72" wide felt

A jigsaw
A drill
A staple gun with both 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch staples
A rubber mallet or nylon-tipped hammer
A ruler
Spray adhesive
Hot glue gun

Step 1: Measure the bed frame width and determine how tall you want the frame to be. 

Step 2: Go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy a piece of 1/2 inch plywood. If you use a softer wood and not an MDF it will make it easier to put the nailhead trim on. If you don't have a saw at home, ask them to cut it down to your size (in my case 62 inches by 36 inches for a queen). They will do this for free (Menard's won't cut it for you.)

Step 3: Draw your design out on the wood and use the jigsaw to carefully cut it out. Use some sandpaper to smooth out the edges.

Step 4: Cut the 1x4 boards in half. These will be the legs that connect the frame to the plywood. Hold the legs up against the bed frame and mark where the holes should be drilled. Drill the holes.

Attach these legs to the frame and then hold the plywood up against them to give you an idea of how tall you want the finished headboard to be. Mark the back of the board, and then use bolts to attach the board to the legs at this height. We used some furniture grade bolts for this step - they lay flatter than the cheaper bolts and hide better underneath the upholstering.

Some tutorials I've seen skip this step and have you attach the finished headboard to the wall instead of the frame. I wasn't too excited about attaching things to my newly painted walls, so we opted for the bed frame method. It gives you more flexibility when rearranging furniture and I think it looks less like a hotel room that way.

Step 5:  Spray a thin coat of spray adhesive on the front of the plywood. Be careful of overspray because it leaves a gummy residue on everything it touches. Place the batting on the front and wait for the adhesive to dry just enough to hold it in place while you flip it over, batting side down on the ground.  (Make sure the batting is big enough to cover the wood with a few inches extra on all sides.) Some people skip this spray adhesive step, but I think it helped hold the batting in place for the next step.

Step 6: Using the staple gun, pull the batting tight around the plywood and staple to the back side. Make sure you have strong staples. We used 1/4 inch for the batting step and 1/2 inch for the fabric step. The 1/2 inch staples were MUCH easier to use.

Step 7: Place your upholstery fabric face down on the floor and lay the batting-covered plywood face-down on the fabric. If your fabric has a pattern, make sure to line it up where you want it to be.  Pull the batting tight around the plywood and staple in place.

We started with the curvy parts at the top because we thought it would be easiest that way. We did some creative folding on the corners to make sure the fabric lines were clean and tight. Also, we had to trim the fabric to fit around the attached legs. We wrapped the sides around the board, then folded them under as best as we could to maintain a finished edge. Then, we cut the fabric up the legs just to the bottom of the plywood and then wrapped it up. There was a little bit of a raw edge left but fortunately it's at the bottom of the mattress where no one will see.

You could probably upholster around the legs too, but I wanted to conserve as much fabric as possible for other projects in the room. I'll probably stain or paint the legs at some point. 

Step 8:  Affix the nailhead trim using the rubber mallet. Look for a separate how-to post on this coming up soon. The nailhead trim kit makes it so easy - it looks intimidating but it isn't!

Step 9: Flip the headboard over so that it is face-side down. Spray the back with adhesive and attach a piece of felt to hide all the staples. Trim as needed and use a hot glue gun near the edges of the felt to ensure it is securely attached. Again, you could skip this step but I think it makes everything look much more polished.

Step 10: Bolt to headboard. Stand back and admire your handiwork!

I love how this project turned out. The total cost was about $125,  about $80 of which was the fabric and nailhead trim, so you could probably do it for much less depending on your fabric choices. The room now has paint and a new headboard and is well on its way to being an inviting space. Next up is new window treatments, wall art and replacing the TV stand with an actual bedside table. 


  1. That looks terrific! If you're comfortable working with a few wood cutting tools, making your own DIY headboard is quite doable, and as you've shown here, they'll turn out beautifully.

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