Thursday, May 13

Simple Upholstered Headboard

My husband & I had never had a headboard. Since we live in a rental, we can't paint the walls or anything and I knew a headboard would be the best way to add a little bit of us to the bedroom. This was my first building project. I built it with my dad's help in just a few hours, in the basement because it was winter. And it was super easy. And I love it.

We spent about $50 and had a big piece of plywood left over (enough to build the coffee table). A big part of the cost was the foam padding, and all I can say is watch for those 50% off coupons for Joann Fabric! Let me know if you find someplace to get it cheaper!

Home Improvement stores will generally cut your plywood for you. Ask them to cut your shelves to size to save you some trouble. And don’t forget to check out Knock-Off Wood for more tips!

Shopping List:
1/2" plywood cut to 48x20"
1 1x8 @ 10'
1 1x8 @ 6'
2 1x2 @ 8'
4 small L-brackets w/ screws
1 1/4" screws
48x20" piece of foam (I used 2" thick)
1 1/2 yard fabric
6 buttons (with holes on the back)
stain or paint

Saw (and a triangle unless you have a miter saw)
Screw Driver
Hot Glue Gun
Needle & Thread

Cut List:
A) 2 1x8 @56 1/2" with top end mitered (legs)
B) 1 1x8 @ 60" with both ends mitered (top)
C) 2 1x2 @ 36" with top end mitered (side trim)
D) 1 1x2 @ 60" with both ends mitered (top trim)
E) 1 1/2" plywood @ 48x20"

1. Build the Frame
Begin by cutting the pieces specified above. Lowe's cut the plywood when I bought it, and I did all the other cuts using a hand saw, which wasn't too hard since there aren't many cuts. To make the miter corners I used a triangle to mark a 45 degree angle and cut it with the hand saw as well. Okay, technically my dad did most of the cutting. :)

Assemble the 1x8's as shown above, using the L-brackets on the backto connect them at the miter joints, using 2 brackets per joint as shown below. It will seem a little flimsy for now, but once the plywood is on later it will be sturdy.

Attach the 1x2's to the front, lining them up with the edges of the 1x8's. I did this by screwing through the back of the 1x8 and into the 1x2 so there are no screws visible from the front. I used 3 screws across the top and 2 down each side.

Stain the assembled frame and let it dry. You can also use a coat or two of polyurethane if you want a gloss finish. Or you can paint it. Whatever you like best!

2. Upholster the Main Panel

If you want buttons, you first need to decide how many/where and mark it on the plywood. Then drill a hole in each button spot using the biggest drill bit you have (shown above).

On the back of the plywood, put a screw on each side of each hole and leave it sticking out a little (also make sure it isn’t poking all the way through). When you add the buttons later you will use these screws to keep them on…it will make sense then!) Doing the buttons this way will make sure they are just where you want them at the end. Hopefully the picture above helps! If you want the buttons to match the headboard, cover them with the same fabric by wrapping it around and hot gluing it on the back.

Layer (face down) the fabric, foam, and plywood, lining up the edges of the foam and plywood, and leaving plenty of extra fabric around all the edges. Wrap fabric up to the back of the plywood and staple in place. I would start in the middle of a long side and work out to the edges, then to the opposite side the same way, then the short ends.

To add the buttons, sew through the hole in the plywood, from back to front, using a long needle and thick thread. (I used several strands of regular thread together) Then loop through the hole on the back of the button and sew back through the headboard, coming out through the same hole (that's the tricky part!) Then wrap the thread around the screws by the hole and tie the ends together. (It's nice to have an extra set of hands for this part if you can find some!) Hopefully the picture above helps!

3. Put it all together

Lay the upholstered panel face down and mark lines on the back, 1 1/4" in from each side. Now lay the frame face down on the top of the panel, lining up the inside edges of the frame with the lines you drew on the panel (this will leave an even 6" of frame visible, shown below). Now just screw them together from back to front where they overlap (remember they only overlap 1 1/4" (shown in blue above), so your screws need to be within that space!) I used 5 screws acros the top and 3 down each side.

4. Set it up and enjoy! Ours is simply standing at the head of our bed, but you could attach it to the wall or bed if you prefer.


The trim pieces (1x2's) don't go all the way to the floor, they stop just below the mattress. This is just because I would have to buy a whole extra 8' board to do each side (and you can't really see them down there anyway). If you want to go all the way down, just buy and extra board and cut the side pieces 56 1/2" long instead.

There is a gap (about 5") between the bottom of the upholstered headboard and the top of our mattress (our mattress is 25" high, so if might be different if yours is higher or lower) That is just because we have outlets up there that we wanted to be able to reach without moving the headboard, and when the bed is made the pillows hide the gap anyway. If you don't want a gap, just cut the bottom off the legs of the frame to get rid of the gap. (but be aware that that will change the look and less of the headboard will be visible above your pillows.) The other alternative would be to make the padded portion taller so that it fills the gap without affecting the overall height of the headboard, but that requires math. :)

Have fun! Let me know if you have any questions!

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  1. I love your headboard!!! Is this plan for a queen size bed?

  2. Thanks! Yes it is queen size. I guess I should have said that somewhere! Oops! :)

  3. Hmm...what fabric did you use? It looks so nice and smooth.

  4. I think it's like a pleather. I got it for free when a friend moved & it didn't have any labels or anything on it.

  5. I am joining the party a little late but if you dont mind my asking, what stain color did you use? I love it. :)

    1. I used an espresso, I had to order it online because no local stores carried it. This is the one I used:

  6. I love Fabric Guru because I have had to re-upholster a few outdoor furniture items. They have lots of fabric that is high end and so beautiful but extremely low price. I love shopping that site. I once bought 6 yards of Osborne for 30 bucks. Big Savings!!

    1. Wow! I definitely need to check this out! Thanks so much for the tip. :)

  7. How did you secure it to the wall? Or is attached to your bed frame?

    1. In our first house we just stood it between the bed and the wall and the weight of the bed was enough to keep it in place. Now that we have little guys running around we used a couple drywall screws to anchor it to the wall (all below the height of the bed so the don't show).

  8. I am planning to make a headboard this weekend. How do you attach it to a metal bed frame?

    1. I guess it would depend on your frame. Ours has some holes for attaching headboards, if yours does you could use some nuts and bolts to attach it there. I'm not sure what to do if you don't have holes though.

  9. What kind of wood did you use? I love the knots!

    1. The larger boards are labeled "whiteboard" at Lowe's I believe (and some are even knottier!) and the smaller boards are the real cheapy pine. :)

  10. So you did a awesome job on this headboard!!!! but i guess to do it for a King size bed i would need different sizes and you by chance would not no those would you thank you :)

    1. Yes! The top and top trim would need to be 76" wide instead of 60". The plywood piece would need to be 64" wide instead of 48". Also measure the height of your mattress to see if you need to make the legs longer, I think king beds tend to sit a little higher than ours does. But the height is more personal preference so go with whatever you like! Happy building! :)

  11. You can use a memory foam mattess topper for the foam. I got mine at Walmart. Much cheaper than foam from Joann's !!

  12. What would the dimensions be if it were a double bed
    ? and would it be possible to make it all wood?

    1. A double bed would be 54" wide (a queen is 60") so you would just need to make all the width measurements 6" shorter. What are you wanting to make all wood?

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    1. Hello,
      I just found your plans and like them. I see you suggest a 1x8 at 10 ft and another at 6 ft. Could you not just buy three 6ft boards? Just easier for many people to manage and get home. I may use clear pine and I wasn't seeing 10 ft boards, so I re-read the plans and realized I could use three boards instead of the 6 ft and 10 ft.