A custom padded headboard makes a bold focal point for the bedroom.


Last week’s design team column was about making your bedroom into a multi-purpose place to hang out rather than just a place to sleep at night. We discussed installing a dramatic custom headboard as a way to increase the functionality of your bedroom.


For example, a padded headboard would allow you to comfortably read, use a portable computer, knit, or whatever you fancy. Plus it looks absolutely smashing as a bold focal point! And the great news is that a padded headboard is a project that you can do yourself without too much muss and fuss.

Here are some easy-to-follow directions on how to make an upholstered headboard.

1. Decide on the measurements of your headboard. For width, you can either use the same width as your bed, or for a pleasing effect, measure it wide enough to fit behind both the bed and the side tables. For a dramatic height, measure three feet or so above your mattress. For a more conventional headboard, measure about 18 inches or so above the mattress.

2. Now use paper cut to the right measurements to test the look of the headboard. Would you like it a little taller or wider, or would you prefer to scale down a little? You can also experiment with shapes and edges. Why not try rectangular with rounded edges or semi-circular? It’s up to you. Keep in mind that simple shapes are easier to upholster.

3. Transfer the paper to a sheet of plywood, and trace the shape onto the plywood. Cut it out with a power saw.

4. Sand the edges with medium grit sandpaper to remove any edges that may catch on the padding.

5. Cut upholstery foam to the side of the headboard plus an extra inch around the edges and staple it with a staple gun to the edge in five or six places.

6. Cut upholstery batting to the same shape plus an extra two to three inches. Smooth it over the foam to even out any rough or uneven edges and staple it to the back of the headboard.

7. Lay the headboard face down on your upholstery fabric. (You may have to iron the fabric ahead of time to make sure it is free of wrinkles and fold lines.) Cut the fabric to the shape of the headboard plus four inches. Fold your fabric over the edges of the board and start stapling at the top in the centre. After about 12 inches are covered, continue stapling at the bottom, straightening and smoothing as you go. Lift up the board periodically to check the front to fix any bulges or puckers. If everything looks fine, move on to the sides. Finish stapling, straightening and smoothing as you go.

8. If you want, you can complete the back with a plain white lining fabric for a neater look.

9. Attach the headboard to the wall. We’ve found that a French cleat, a long “shelf” cut at a 45 degree angle, supports and securely holds a headboard in place.

10. Enjoy!