Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

Creating a custom upholstered headboard

September 16, 2001



1/2-inch plywood cut to the size and shape of your headboard design

Quilt batting

Fabric of your choice

1-inch by 4-inch pine boards as legs

Plain cotton backing


Staple gun and staples


Step 1: Create the headboard design

As always, I like to have the lumberyard cut the wood to size. If you are making a creative shape, like curving the top or rounding the edges, you will probably have to do the cutting yourself. A jigsaw works just fine for this project.

Step 2: Soften it up

Lay the face of your headboard on a thick piece of quilt batting. Cut around your design, adding about 6 inches to the outside edge. Then fold the batting over and staple it to the back of the headboard.

Step 3: Let's add some color

Using the exact same method as step 2, place your soft headboard face down on the wrong side of the fabric you're using to cover it. Cut around it, adding 6 inches to the edge for folding over. Then, do just that. Fold the fabric over to the back and staple it on. Make sure to move from top to bottom then side to side to stretch the fabric taut as you go, eliminating any wrinkles.

Step 4: Hide your work

Now it's time to cut a piece of plain cotton cloth to the exact size of the headboard. Lay it on the back, covering all your staples and raw fabric edges, fold it under about an inch, and staple it all the way around as neatly as possible.

Step 5: Mounting the legs

Mount the 1-inch by 4-inch pine legs to the back of the headboard using wood screws. The two should be placed about 6 inches in from the outside edges of the headboard, and a couple inches down from the top for maximum support. Determine the length of the legs by holding the headboard up to the bed. The headboard should start about an inch below the top of the mattress, to help hold the mattress and pillows in place. If you are adding a headboard to a platform bed, screw the legs to the trim of the bed with wood screws. If you're using a metal bed frame, check to see where the legs need to be to match up to the holes in the frame, and then drill matching holes into the legs and use nuts and bolts to attach. For a king-size bed, add a third leg in the center of the headboard for support.

Extra tip:

There are all sorts of ways to make your headboard special. You can gather the fabric top and bottom for a fuller, more cushioned look, or add ribbons or contrast welting to really get a custom look.

Making your own dresser and nightstands would be quite a project. So keep it simple and make a custom upholstered headboard. With the money you save, buy the wooden case pieces of your dreams.

-- Shari Hiller writes this column with Matt Fox. They also co-host the Home and Garden Television show "Room by Room." For more information, visit

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