DIY: Upholstering Headboards

26 Sep

Although I am now living in my fabulous apartment, I have been holding off on the big unveil of my new digs on Funky Bear. I apologize for the delay but I want to make sure it looks its best before showing the world.

For now, I can give you a sneak peak into my place by showing you how to create your own headboard — a project I recently completed for my apartment with my mom. There are tons of helpful articles online about the various ways you can do this and although they seem wordy, the process can actually be quite simple.

Better Homes & Gardens

Do It Yourself


Be Jane

So if you don’t feel like watching Sunday football all afternoon with your dad, brother, or boyfriend all day for some strange reason (what, no football?!?), then get started on this fun and decorative do-it-yourself project!

There are many ways of decorating a headboard…


Inspired by: Alkemie


Inspired by: The Decorista


Inspired by: Oh Joy!


Inspired by: Decorati

(definition: gluing tons of paper, wall paper, or wrapping paper overlapping in an enticing pattern)

Inspired by: Lovely Undergrad

In my humble opinion, the best and most dramatic way to create a beautiful and attention-grabbing headboard is to upholster it.

Upholstering involves applying stuffing and/or cushions, and then covering this padding  with fabric of your choosing. Depending on the look you are going for, upholstering a headboard can be young and sweet, glamorous and dramatic, or even mature and sophisticated.

I mentioned a few different websites above that give a helpful breakdown of this DIY upholstery project. But here is how my mom and I created the look in a more quick and dirty (and less detailed) way than most of these articles offer:


1. Old wood headboard (in dire need of re-purposing) — this could also be a piece of plywood that you have cut to fit your bed in any shape. If you go to Home Depot or Lowe’s you can purchase the wood and have them cut to your specific dimensions. Just make sure to measure what you want first!

2. Thick foam — can be bought from most fabric stores such as Joann’s. I chose 2-inch thick foam but this can be whatever you want depending on how thick you want the padding on your headboard to be.

3. Batting — also from Joann’s

4. Fabric — enough to cover the entire headboard with plenty of room to spare on all sides (at least 5 inches for wrapping around).

5. Staple gun — an electric staple gun is best. For the amount of stapling you are about to do, investing in a $30 piece of machinery like that will save you years of carpal tunnel syndrome. Even with the electric staple gun, you should still prepare yourself for a swollen hand after a few hours of upholstery.

6. Staples — don’t forget to buy these with the gun! Based on the fairly thick, furry fabric I chose coupled with the batting, I chose 1/2 inch staples.

7. Scissors — this one’s obvious.

8. Blue painters’ tape — this will help secure the batting and fabric so they don’t slide as you staple them in place.

9. Spray glue — this is necessary in order to adhere the foam to the headboard base while you work with the batting and fabric.

10. Old sheet or drop cloth — this will help protect the floor you are working on from the spray glue and any scraps of fabric or stray staples will be easy to clean.

11. A partner in crime — I don’t believe this project can be done by yourself so find a buddy to help.


1 hour of purchasing materials

2 hours of upholstery time


1. Cut foam: Lay out all of your materials on top of the sheet. Cut your foam out to the shape of your headboard. Try to get as close to the actual shape as possible, it will look much better in the end if everything lines up exactly. For mine, we had to use 2 layers of foam to cover the entire headboard so make sure everything is flush together with no spaces or cracks.

2. Glue foam: Once you have cut out your foam, use the spray glue to adhere it to the headboard. It doesn’t have to be perfect, this is just to keep the foam from moving when you add the  batting and eventually the fabric.

3. Apply batting: Cut a large piece of the batting that will cover the entire headboard. Smooth said batting over the entire front of the headboard. This is the batting’s entire purpose — to smooth out any cracks where the foam falls short and prepare the headboard for fabric application.

4. Staple batting: Wrap the sides of the batting around to the back of the headboard. This is where your partner comes in handy. With their help, stand up the headboard and use the blue painter’s tape to secure the batting in place to the back side. Then, flip the entire headboard over so you only see the back of it. Grab the staple gun and adhere the batting to the wood. The staples work best if placed relatively close to one another (.25 inches apart). Make sure to pull the batting tight each time you staple so the smoothing effect takes place.

5. Check batting: Have your partner hold up the headboard so that you may see the front. Ensure that you have stapled the batting down tight and now bumps or air pockets exist.

6. Cut fabric: Lay your headboard back down so the front with the new batting is facing up. Lay your fabric (or in my case, we bought a furry blanket) over the entire headboard. If need be, cut the fabric so that there are about 6 extra inches on all sides. These extra inches will be important when you wrap the fabric around the foam and batting.

7. Apply fabric: This part can get tricky because you really need to make sure the fabric is pulled tight and looks flawless — this is what everyone will be seeing! Carefully stand the headboard up again and adhere the long side pieces to the back with blue painter’s tape.

8. Staple fabric: Gently lay headboard so the fabric/front side is facing down, and the back is exposed. Staple your fabric making sure to pull tight and smooth as you go. Start from the middle of the top and work your way out. The top is the most important section because it will be the most prominent once the headboard is set up with your bed. It can be a tedious process, but perfection is key — this is what everyone will see as the final product! For the corners, we just played with folding the fabric as you would make the corners of a bed. As long as the front looks good, you will be fine. The back will most likely look like a jumbled mess of staples but no one will ever see it so it doesn’t matter.

9. Check fabric: Stand the headboard up and eyeball any areas that seem lumpy. Use your staple gun to smooth these areas. Again — it doesn’t matter how messy the back looks with all of the staples, so long as the front looks fabulous.

10. Admire your work: You’re done! Stand back and admire your work. Go place behind your bed immediately and accept all compliments you receive with a smile.


6 Responses to “DIY: Upholstering Headboards”

  1. arielhall September 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    ahhh Ive been waiting for this post! I can’t wait to do this when I get back!!!

  2. Beatriz Foxworth June 18, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    There are regularly transforms on the web. I can’t predict which will occur tomorrow. No crystal ball right here.

  3. Rachael April 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    awesome steps — thanks! can’t wait to try this. I would not have thought of using spray glue.


  1. Spotlight On: Headboards « The Funky Bear - September 28, 2010

    […] pictures for some genuine headboard decoration inspiration. Then get crackin’ on the DIY part. And send me your pictures of your projects! I love getting updates from you. Try dark brown, tan […]

  2. DIY: Re-upholstering Chairs « The Funky Bear - October 11, 2010

    […] having great (personal) success with upholstering my brand new, super fab headboard, I decided to take a a few more upholstery projects under consideration. This time are, my medium […]

  3. Casa de Funky Bear: Day 2 – My Room « The Funky Bear - December 21, 2010

    […] my self-upholstered headboard (see my DIY article here), I artfully placed a mirror and two canvas paintings I […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: