DIY Upholstered Headboard

Ever since we upgraded our bed, we’ve been headboard-less.  Honestly we’ve been so busy; it just hasn’t really been a priority.  But lately I’ve been feeling like we just kind of threw some furniture in our house, slapped paint on some walls and have been living with it.  It’s been bugging me that every room is like half done.  I’ve been wanting to finish just ONE room.   So we decided to start with our bedroom.

We had already upgraded our bed, painted the room, and gotten new window treatments.  I just couldn’t decide on a headboard.  What I liked was crazy expensive, plus we couldn’t really agree on one headboard we were in love with.  When you’re shelling out a grand or more on something, in my opinion, you really need to love it.  So I started thinking, how hard could it really be to build our own headboard?  I pitched the idea to G and he was surprisingly game for it, so last weekend we made it our little project.  It didn’t take long, and it actually was pretty easy!  Here’s how we did it:

Step One:  Figure out what you like.  I personally went to a few of my favorite furniture sites to get ideas.  Here are a few of the inspiration pictures I sent to G:

I really liked the shape and color of this Pottery Barn headboard, but I was hoping to have a bit of tufting:

Pottery Barn: Raleigh Upholstered Camelback Headboard

Pottery Barn: Raleigh Upholstered Camelback Headboard

Then I came across this headboard at Z Gallerie and I liked the tufting, but it was totally the wrong shape:

Z Gallerie- Edward Headboard- Parchment Shantung

Z Gallerie- Edward Headboard- Parchment Shantung

I really liked this Crate & Barrel headboard, but G was really opposed to the decorative nails (& the $1,800 dollar price tag-yikes!)

Crate & Barrel: Colette Bed

Crate & Barrel: Colette Bed

So we were able to figure out what we wanted: a headboard with a light curve to the top, no decorative nails, tufting, and a light fabric.

Step Two: Gather the materials!

  • MDF- or the wood material of your choice – we had the store we purchased from cut it to size for us which was a huge help!
  • Foam or some material to act as a cushion.  We decided to buy a memory foam mattress topper from Target.
  • Batting
  • Fabric
  • A button kit
  • Mounting kit – we used interlocking picture hanging clips
  • Thread
  • A Needle
  • Fishing line


  • Jig Saw
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors
  • Hammer
  • Drill & 3/16th” drill bit

My favorite part of this project was probably the fabric shopping!  There were so many fun prints to look at.  We were trying to match our curtains, which are a fairly bold print so I knew I wanted to keep the fabric choice simple.  There were so many cool fabrics that I would have loved to use.  Clearly, we’ll need to make another headboard so I can use a fun print!

photo 1

What to do when you make your purchases and realize that the wood won’t fit in your trunk?  Strap it to the top of your sedan.  I can assure you, if this was G’s car we would NOT have strapped the wood to the top. I didn’t love it, but I wanted this headboard done, so I sacrificed a little.

photo 2

Step Three: Cut your headboard to the desired shape. I had no idea there were this many different shapes!  G and I went back and forth on what exact shape we wanted;  I ended up letting G have the final say on the headboard shape, and he decided on Finsbury.  Here’s a good resource on different headboard shapes, and their names:


Once we had settled on a shape, we spent quite a bit of time debating the best way to obtain it.  We were totally overcomplicating it– in the end, we decided to freehand one side, and then use the material we cut out to replicate the cut on the other side.

The MDF as we debated the best way to shape it

After we freehanded the curvature of the headboard, I let G do the cutting.  He did a great job, he’s so precise!

G cutting along the line we drew

G cutting along the line we drew

Here’s one half of the headboard, as you can see it’s slightly curved.

Slightly curved

Slightly curved

We took the scrap that we cut from one half, and used it to replicate the cut on the other side.  We very carefully lined up the edges, and then we traced the shape, and G cut out the other half.

Replicating the cuts using what we cut off one side.

Replicating the cuts using what we cut off one side.

Step Four: Since tufting was something we had decided we wanted, we decided to drill the holes we would use later to thread the buttons.  Thankfully, G let me take the lead on this one.  I decided I only wanted two rows of buttons; any more rows and the buttons would be too crowded, or they’d be covered by the bed and pillows.  I also knew that I wanted them to alternate, so I decided the top row should have three buttons and the bottom row would have four.

We decided on placement by centering the top button:  width /2 = center

in our case this was 62″ / 2 = 31″ was our center point.

From there, we divided the center point by 2 again to determine the spacing we wanted to use:

in our case this was 31″ / 2 = 15.5″  was our button spacing

We started with the top row, and the placement of the center button.  Then we measured 15.5″ out from that center button and drew the placement for the other two top buttons.   For the lower row, we measured down 10′ from the top row and once again started in the center.  Since we were alternating the buttons to place the first lower button we took the spacing (15.5″) and divided it in half again which equaled 7.75″  So we knew that our first button needed to be 7.75″ from the center of the board.  Once we placed that, we were able to space the remaining three buttons 15.5″ apart.  It ended up working out perfectly.  G then used his drill and 3/16th” drill bit to drill the holes.

G drilling the holes

G drilling the holes

Step Five: We sanded all of the edges to make sure they were nice and smooth.  I felt that it was important to do this because I didn’t want there to be any extra stress on the fabric once we upholstered it.

Step Six: We laid out the foam mattress topper and cut it to size.  A few tips- the mattress topper we used had quite a bit of give to it.  We were careful not to stretch it out when we were cutting because we wanted to ensure that it would be true to size.

Here's the memory foam mattress topper we used

Here’s the memory foam mattress topper we used

To make the cutting easier, we lined up as many of the edges as we could so we could reduce the amount of cutting that we needed to do.  When we actually made the cuts, they weren’t perfect, but in the end it worked out just fine!

Cutting the foam to match the wood
Cutting the foam to match the wood
Playing around with the memory foam

Playing around with the memory foam

Step Seven: We covered the foam and wood with the batting.  I was careful to pull it very tightly and make sure it looked very nice, since this is the layer directly below the fabric we were going to upholster it with.  I also wanted to make sure that it held the foam securely in place. We may have went a little overboard with the staples, but I’d prefer to err on the side of caution.

We pulled the batting tight, and made sure to secure it with plenty of staples.

We pulled the batting tight, and made sure to secure it with plenty of staples.

Once we got the batting secured, we could see the headboard really starting to take shape!

Covered in batting

Covered in batting

I asked G to help me move the headboard inside so I could finish the upholstering.  I didn’t want the nice, new fabric to get dirty out in the garage.

Step Nine: I started by taking our fabric and laying it on our coffee table.  We then set the headboard on top of the fabric and I pulled it to ensure that it fit.  I had a bit of extra fabric intentionally (for the buttons) so I wanted to lay it out and see where I could make the cut to take off that extra fabric.

I got down on the floor to make sure everything looked good from underneath before I placed any staples.  I wanted to make sure it looked perfect.  Once I was satisfied, I started by placing a few staples on each side to keep everything in place.

Laying out the fabric

Laying out the fabric

Then I started on the top right corner, I was very careful to ensure that the fabric was neatly folded and looked good and clean from the front.  Once I was confident the corner was just right, I stapled it in place.  I then worked my way along the top edge.  I found that there was a sweet spot of how tight to pull the fabric.  If I pulled too tightly, it created weird wrinkles- but if I left it too loose the fabric would look sloppy.  I took my time and made sure to do it right.

Pulling carefully to ensure the corners were neat

Pulling carefully to ensure the corners were neat

I did not spare the staples on this step either : )

Plenty of staples on the back to hold our fabric in place

Plenty of staples on the back to hold our fabric in place

Step Ten: This was probably the most time consuming step.  The button kit I purchased, did not work with the thick suede like fabric I purchased. I spent way more time trying to make them work than I’d like to admit. Thankfully, I was able to find this tutorial on making cover buttons and it saved me!  I was able to follow her instructions to make the buttons work.  Although it ended up taking a bit more time than I would have liked, it wasn’t difficult at all!

Step Eleven: Securing the buttons proved to be another challenge that required creativity.  I decided to use fishing line to secure our buttons, and I doubled it up for extra strength.  One side was a loop, which I stapled to the back of the headboard.  We then used a long needle to thread the fishing line through the holes we had drilled easier, and to the front of the headboard.  This was much easier with G’s help.   He threaded the button on at the front and pushed the needle back through.

I’ll admit, it took some patience to get the needle back into the hole.  Thankfully, we both have a pretty good sense of humor and many jokes about getting it in the hole kept us laughing and helped to diffuse the frustration.  Once we were able to get the needle into the hole, I double knotted it and we pulled it tight.  G was adamant that the button needed to be as tight as it could be, to maximize the tufting.  So we were careful to pull the fishing line tightly and staple it securely into place.

Step Twelve: I left G to hang the headboard himself, he’s so good with this kind of stuff.  He advised  that he used four interlocking picture hanging clips, and he tied into the studs for extra strength when mounting.  He called me in to check it out, here’s what it looked like before we moved the bed back.  As you can see, it’s totally mounted to the wall and independent of our bed and frame.

photo 1 (3)

The headboard has made a HUGE difference in our bedroom.  Here’s a quick before & after:

photo 5




All in all this was a perfect weekend project.  It wasn’t very complicated, and with just a little money and some hard work we were able to create a headboard that I’m very pleased with!  I’d estimate the total cost was under $150.00 and the total time spent was probably 6 hours.   If you’ve considered building your own headboard- I think you should certainly consider doing it yourself!


I’m linking up with House of Rose


2 thoughts on “DIY Upholstered Headboard

  1. Thank you for posting such a detailed step by step! I’m with you on the half-finished rooms, so ready to have our bedroom fully “finished”! Might have to give this a try.

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