DIY Fabric Headboard for the Master Bedroom

My first project for the master bedroom was to create a fabric headboard for our queen sized bed (see room inspiration board here!). I found this great Calico Corners print and knew it would work perfectly as a neutral backdrop for the rest of the room. Next I needed to find a frame with a bit of architectural detail… and I scored a white wooden headboard from Craigslist that was perfect.

Here’s my step-by-step:


{DIY Fabric Headboard}

Headboard frame, sand paper, spray paint, fabric, foam (1″ – 2″ is easy to work with), quilt batting, staple gun, hem tape, utility knife

1. I asked Kevin to cut off the bedpost knobs since they would get in the way of my vision for a sleek, rounded form. 2. Then I sanded and painted the legs (at least the areas that would show) the same mahogany color as my platform bed.

Forgive the messy workshop… but I was in crunch mode and brought my big project inside for some late night work.

3. After painting, I traced the line of the headboard frame onto my 1 1/2″ foam pieces (one for the front and one for the back). One foam form was about 6″ longer on each edge to allow for folding over the bedposts so that the sides would be just as soft and cushy as the rest of the headboard.

A heavy duty staple gun and utility knife were the perfect tools for the job.

4. Because my rolls of foam were only a couple of feet wide, I also added thicker 3″ foam just below my foam forms so that my fabric headboard would extend at least 2/3 of the way down the frame (this may or may not be necessary if you try this project yourself). Be sure all foam is even and patch where necessary.

5. My final foam finish was a simple strip across the top of the headboard to match the sides.

(Don’t mind the sun discoloration… my foam is faded but it’s a bit cheaper and it doesn’t affect the project!)

6. The next step was to cover the entire headboard frame with quilt batting. This should hide all seams and create a sealed, soft look (especially around the edges and corners).

7. We repeated step 6 but this time with fabric, working from edge to edge and pulling the fabric taut as I stapled. This would be a great time to add tufted buttons (super easy, check out the process during this ottoman tutorial) but I wanted to keep a more modern shape and thought they might be a bit distracting and competitive with the pattern.

8. We finished the headboard by applying a lining across the back to hide all folds and staples (the one picture I don’t have!). The lining was cut just a few inches shorter than the headboard outline on all sides (it followed the staple indentation for a cleaner finish) and was hemmed (hem tape works great) before it was attached to the back.

And here she is! I can’t wait to see how it will look in the room… once we get that put together and decorated.

My DIY headboard set me back a mere $100 for a Craigslist frame, spray paint, foam, batting and fabric (try a complimentary solid shade for the backside lining if you choose an expensive print and don’t forget to take advantage of 40% off Jo-Anns coupons since foam can be pricey). I actually purchase most of my foam for projects from a nearby discount store that collects Jo-Ann rejects (usually because of sun discoloration). It doesn’t hurt the project and brings my overhead down even more.

The labor and time was definitely worth it, I love the look and I know it will tie in so well to the finished bedroom!

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  1. Rhonda Sarmento says

    Great tutorial! How much do you estimate was the total cost of the project?

  2. katie says

    How did you go around the bottom corners (around the legs). Did you fold it under? I’m trying to figure out how to go around the legs on mine!

  3. amy says

    I know this is an older post but I would like to replicate this project. I see you used thick foam. Does this mask the feel of the spindles? I have a old (free!) spindled headboard that I would like to upholster, but still want it to be comfortable to lean on.
    Thanks again for your detailed tutorial!

    • says

      Hi Amy, I would suggest a thicker foam. You have to really press hard to feel the spindles in ours, I don’t notice them at all (though it is on the guest bed so I should quiz our guests :)). Perhaps two layers of batting?

  4. Patsy says

    You mention purchasing foam from a discount store that collects Jo-Ann rejects . . . would you mind sharing the name of that store? I am gathering items to make a headboard similar to yours. Thank you for the tutorial.

    • says

      The store here in San Diego is called Discount Fabrics and they’re located on Adams Ave in an old movie theatre. They’ll cut the foam to size which is a huge plus as well. If you’re not in SD you can use a 40% off coupon at Jo-anns for about the same savings. Good luck with your project!

  5. says

    You did a beautiful job. Do you think I can do the same with the curvy metal end of a daybed? We are cutting the ends off anyhow to make it just a guest bed. I was going to throw the ends out, which have the same shape as your finshed headbosrd, until I saw your tutorial. I’m just not sure how to attach foam etc to a metal frame, mabe a few thin wood slats screwed onto the backside??

    • says

      Ooh that’s a great question. I imagine it might be tough to adhere foam and fabric to the metal frame but might be worth a try with a glue gun? That’s a tough call… please do let me know how it turns out!

  6. tiffany says

    hi! I love your blog!
    i’ve been searching for directions to reupholster my headboard and this is the best one i’ve found by far :)

    one question- if my existing headboard is rectangular, is there a way to add curves to the top of the headboard?

    thanks! and keep up the great work

    • says

      Hi Tiffany, Good luck with your project! You might try adding some sort of wood addition to the top of your headboard to account for curves – maybe a piece of plywood cut with a jigsaw in your desired shape?

  7. says

    What a beautiful finished product! You’ve inspired me to do one for my guest room. I’ll need to get in gear…SIL coming to visit from Connecticut in just two weeks!

  8. says

    This is such a great idea! I can’t believe it never occurred to me to use an EXISTING headboard. A huge duh moment for me. =) I’m so glad I saw this- we’re getting ready to make a fabric headboard next week. How timely. Thanks tons, I’ll be spreading the word as well.

    • Morgan says

      Thanks so much for the mention! And glad you love the idea – best of love with your headboard!


  9. Jan Jessup says

    Morgan, I forgot to mention that the headboard fabric you chose from Calico Corners is the print LUXOR in Silver. It’s printed in Italy and retails for $52.99/yard. It’s a little more expensive than many prints because of the heavy basecloth, the pearlescent inks and the fact that’s it’s imported from Europe. However, it’s now on sale thru 8/14 for 25% off. It’s a great pattern and we love it too!

  10. Jan Jessup says

    Dear Pepper–
    Wow, what an effort! It turned out beautifully–and what doesn’t show in your photos is that the fabric has a slight pearlescent finish, so that it really is pretty when it catches a little light. It can be hard to fire those industrial strength staple guns, and you really gave it your all. Can’t wait to see the final result!

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