Build a Bed: Dreamy Headboard (part 1)

The Man and I are (eternally) continuing some major house projects. I will lose momentum if I don’t accomplish at least something small every few days, so, in an effort to keep my energy up, I knocked out our custom headboard this weekend. It’s goooorgeous, and will be joined with an equally as goooorgeous custom bed frame is part one of my two-part bed build, so expect a second post on how to build a platform bed soon!

Making a headboard is perhaps the simplest thing you can do to spruce up your bedroom without breaking the bank. Headboards can be both functional, protecting your noggin from bonking into the wall, and aesthetic, becoming the focal point for your space. And, thanks to the seemingly endless choices of upholstery fabric, any bedroom can benefit. The project shouldn’t take more than a few hours, assuming you’ve got all the materials in order. (Which, of course, I didn’t.)

Ready to make your own? Great! Here’s how:

Plywood/MDF piece (cut to desired shape)
2 inch-thick upholstery foam (cut to desired shape, 2-3″ larger than headboard frame)
Two 1x4s (approx. 36″ long, although this will differ depending on mattress depth)
Four 1.5″ screws
Four 2″ bolts + corresponding nuts (your bed frame may allow for more bolts)
Staple gun (shooting at least 1/4 inch staples)
Upholstery fabric of choice (approx. 3 yards for a king headboard)


  1. To prepare your headboard, lay your cut to shape plywood sheet on a flat, sturdy surface. Brush it with a dry cloth to knock off any dust or loose pieces.
  2. Measure the distance between your bed frame’s headboard mounting points. This will vary depending on your bed frame. Measure this same distance on the back of your headboard, centering and marking with a sharpie. This is where you will later need to attach the 1×4 planks to the headboard.
  3. Lay cut upholstery foam down on clean, flat surface. Place headboard face down on the foam, lining it up so that two to three inches of foam hang over each edge. Pull foam from the top, centermost point of the headboard over the edge and staple it to the back of the headboard. Do the same at the bottom centermost point. With these two points secure, continue pulling foam and stapling all the way around the headboard.
  4. Flip that sucker over so the foam side faces up. Align your fabric over the headboard, checking to ensure that all lines are level and all visual elements display evenly. Leave at least 8 inches of fabric on all sides. With the help of a buddy, firmly clamp together the headboard and fabric, flipping the whole piece foam-side down without allowing the fabric to slip. (Did the fabric slip out of place? It probably did. Double check.)
  5. Beginning at the top, centermost point, pull fabric taut over the headboard and secure with a staple. Do the same for the bottom, centermost point, pulling the fabric more taut than you think you need to. Once these two points are secure, work your way across the top and bottom edges of the headboard, pulling fabric firmly over the headboard and stapling it to the back. Check your work every once in a while by carefully flipping the headboard back over to look for any bunching or loose fabric. (A flathead screwdriver is great for removing heavy duty staples. Not that I would know.)
  6. When securing the sides of the fabric, begin at the center of each side and work your way out to the corners, pulling tight. Corners can be fudged a little bit, but I recommend using an origami squash fold– again, pulled very taut. Staplestaplestaple.
  7. Attach those 1x4s in the places you marked in step 2 with some strong screws and attach the whole thing to your bed frame using nuts and bolts.


  • If your headboard has some curves, simply pleat the fabric to ensure it lays flush against a curve.
  • You don’t have to use plywood to make your headboard! Any sturdy wood will do, so repurposing old closet doors is absolutely an option.
  • Don’t want to pay for upholstery foam? Use a few layers of cheaper egg crate foam instead.
  • Spray adhesive can also be used to secure foam to headboard. You can also staple a layer of batting in between the foam and fabric to secure foam in place.
  • Don’t have a bed frame that allows for easy headboard mounting? Consider mounting the headboard on the wall instead. This means you can eliminate the 1x4s.

Questions? Let me know in the comments!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *