At the heart of design, I really love solving problems. Making something for the sake of DIY can be fun, but when it solves all sorts of problems, well, that’s my fave! Take this DIY upholstered headboard. When you are moving, have an oddly shaped room, no bed frame, and a small budget, how can you amp up the style and utility of a room? An Upholstered headboard may just do the trick.
But the start of this project was really almost two years ago. I ordered a piece of furniture for a client, and it came crated with these MDF supports. They weren’t useful once we unpacked the furniture, but they were just too nice to toss. Maybe I could make something with them. They sat in my garage for months. No, we’re not talking about the actual (blue) headboard in this picture, but rather the ladder-looking thing in front of it.
Then this staging opportunity shows up, and the king size bed really needs a headboard, but we had other things to spend our money on. Some things you can’t easily DIY, but an upholstered headboard? No problem, assuming you have…
- an appropriate frame- check!
- some batting – or a queen sized mattress pad – check!
- some fabric – or a curtain panel – check!
- Staples and a staple gun
- D-rings to hang the finished piece
The queen sized mattress pad provides some inexpensive batting material (about $25), and perfectly covers the frame when folded in half. The first step is to staple that to your frame. (You could purchase foam and batting, but in my geography, that’ll cost you more than $25.)
Next, staple the curtain panel to the frame covered with batting. Why a curtain panel? Two reasons. This pair of slub silk panels was less than $25, and honestly, you can’t even buy the fabric for that amount anymore. I do a lot of projects turning tablecloths and curtain panels into something new. Because I bought two sets, now I have a matching headboard/curtain set, which looks very intentional and coordinated. They have the added advantage of also being hemmed, so many times I get away with little or no sewing. I did trim one of the grommets from each corner to make finishing the stapling easier.
Finally, attach one D-ring to each side of the back of the headboard, and hang it as if it were a picture.
In this particular space, the dormered ceiling was working against us, making the room feel small and only fit for a child. By hanging the headboard at a normal height, and placing a tall piece of furniture next to the bed, the room feels larger. (Designer trick: paint the entire room in the same color so the eye moves seamlessly around the room, which also makes it feel larger. Don’t try to paint a dormered ceiling white, which will instantly make it feel smaller.)
I do recommend having an extra set of hands to help with upholstering items like this. It’s very important to start in the middle and work out to the edges, and to keep the material taught as you work, to get a good finished look.
So, we solved so many problems:
- creating a finished, coordinated look in the room
- using low cost materials for a high-impact stage
- visually raising the ceiling even though the mattresses sat directly on the floor
- creating a true headboard that was safe and secure without adding a bed frame
- and perhaps most satisfying of all…finding a use for the sturdy packing frame that I’d been saving from an earlier project
I’m sharing the instructions on how to upholster a headboard with you, even if you have to make your own frame. After all, not everyone is going to have the packing item that I started with. But you may find an old door or window frame to start with. Keep your eyes open, and the perfect opportunity may appear. And if you happen to have an extra queen or king mattress pad that needs a new job, even better!