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DIY Upholstered Headboard


Over the weekend I decided to build the headboard for my Mom's guest bedroom. I can not believe how easy this project was and I love the result! I added curved lines and nailhead trim which made the project a little more difficult, but it was still pretty easy. Since there are already a million tutorials on the internet I didn't take many how-to pictures but this is basically how I did it.

First I went to Lowes and bought a 4' by 8' piece of plywood and a large piece of MDF. Our table saw is broken and I didn't want to mess with the big cuts anyway so I had Lowes cut the pieces down for me. Since this headboard is for a queen size bed, I had them cut the plywood down to 48" X 65". Then they ripped the MDF into two 5" wide sections for the legs. 

Once I got home I used our miter saw to cut the legs to the desired length.

To make the cutouts on the headboard, I used a compass to draw the curves and then used a jig saw to cut out the shapes.

Next, the legs were attached with screws and the extra MDF was cut down to make a frame around the rest of the headboard. When finished the frame looked like this:

I added the MDF pieces because I wanted to use nailhead trim and they provided a raised surface to nail into. I wanted to use a thick foam inside the frame to make the headboard soft but I only used a thin layer of quilt batting over the MDF pieces so the nailheads could tack into the hard surface. But even if I wasn't using nailhead trim, I still would have added the MDF pieces because they also give the headboard thickness. Since I was using the nailhead trim, the picture above shows the front side of my headboard. If I wasn't using nailhead trim then I would have flipped it over and used this side as the front and wrapped the whole thing in the thick foam:

Does that make sense?

Anyway, next I used 1 inch foam and spray adhesive (plus a few staples) to fill in the interior of the frame and make everything approximately the same thickness. Then I laid my fabric (P Kaufmann Jacobean Batik Floral - Inoteca Indigo) facedown on the floor with a layer of quilt batting on top. The headboard was laid facedown on top of the fabric and the batting and I got to work wrapping and stapling everything to the backside of the frame.

Once the headboard frame was covered in fabric I used extra batting and fabric to wrap the legs for a finished look.

I bought some nickel-plated nailhead trim and this nailhead spacer on EBay a few months ago and I decided to use it on this project. 

Attaching real nailhead trim is tedious but the spacer definitely helped keep things straight. I ran out of nailheads so I had to order some more, but here is the final result (minus a few nailheads).

What do you think? I can't wait to see it in Mom's guest room! 

Reader Comments (50)

That looks awesome! You should sell those bad boys on etsy!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaura

AhhhH! That is EXACTLY what I want our headboard to look like! This is perfect. You've motivated me to finally get started. Thanks, Rach!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuz

It's perfect! Wow - I love it! Great job!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrancoise

Turned out beautiful!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershannon sinn

I'm new to your blog, but I love it and the headboard is very nice - I love how sturdy it looks. I've been a little turned off by some the DIY's because they look flimsy. This looks high end! Great Job!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I am so impressed! It looks fabulous!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary-Stewart Loring

This looks so beautiful. I am starting to gather the instructions to do my own diy headboard. Do you mind telling me how thick the plywood/MDF was that you used? Also how many nailheads did you use? I am trying to determine how many I will need to order. Thanks!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

It's beautiful!! Wow. You should totally sell those on your etsy shop. I'm dying for an upholstered headboard.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen B

You are so talented.. and I second that about selling headboards on Etsy, or anything you feel like selling! I'll buy it!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Love the headboard! I had no idea there was a tool such as the nailhead spacer, thrilled to know now. Beautiful job!

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Malone

I love it--make me one!!

You definitely should follow these people's advice and sell these. That's is BEAUTIFUL.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill

That blue & white fabric is gorgeous. Now that you've made making an upholstered headbood seem so easy, I might have to try it myself. Great job!

So beautiful!!!! I'm always stumped as to how to come up with a design. Did you just wing-it, or did you have a pattern? Truly one of the best
I've seen. Perfect!

May 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKerry

Another first class job! Simply lovely - BTW, in which bedroom will your mom be using this gorgeous headboard?

May 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Thanks everyone! The problem with selling them on Etsy (or online in general) is the shipping costs! But, if anyone is local or doesn't mind paying for shipping, I would be glad to make you one. Just send me an email!

May 19, 2010 | Registered CommenterRachel

Michele - I used 3/4" plywood and 3/4" MDF for the frame. And I used 200 nailheads before I ran out so I think it is going to take around 250-300 total.

Kerry - I didn't follow a pattern. I just winged it and, luckily, it worked out!

Susan - the headboard is going in Katie's old bedroom. Maybe you can stop by and see it when you are in NC for Megan's graduation. Can't wait to see you!

May 19, 2010 | Registered CommenterRachel

Wow! The headboard looks super great!

May 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNellie

This looks AMAZING!!! Makes me want to do a headboard ASAP. :) And I love the fabric choice. Did you attach it to a standard bed frame?

May 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeila

That is gorgeous! You have given me hope that I think I'm going to try it for our guest room this summer, now to find fabric... *Amy

May 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

looks beautiful....amazing job!

May 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette Van Wicklen

looks great but would like to see the fabric lined up evenly for a more professional look

September 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjp

I emailed you about making me one as I would pay for shipping!!

November 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlana

I love your headboard! Just curious--you said you used thick foam. How thick? Just one inch thick? There are no pics here of this--did you cut it to fit inside the MDF? How many inches in from the edge did you place your nailhead trim? I'm guessing about 4 inches? Do you remember the radius of the circle you used for the cut out at the top? It's just the prefect size. Your headboard is beautiful!

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeth Wirka

I also love this. Just as the last post asked, I would like to learn more about how you used the foam to create a thick inside and show the contrast with the nailhead trim. How thick was the foam? Was it difficult to cut the foam to match the shape of the headboard? Did you put the foam right up against the outer of the MDF? Did you apply the nailhead trim right on the edge of the MDF and edge of the foam?

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Came upon your post today when searching for some instructions on a DIY headboard. I am a big fan of the shape and the nailhead trim on yours. You did a beautiful job! I'm making a headboard for my own mom's bed for Mother's Day. She wants tufting but no nailhead. I just might borrow a jigsaw and copy the shape you used, as it's so much more interesting than the rectangle I was planning on!

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