39 In DIY projects

DIY an upholstered headboard: the easy how-to guide

After our labour-intensive bathroom renovation (see the final reveal of that here), I was in the mood for an easy, high-impact project. A “quick win”, you know? I have had ‘make a headboard’ on the to-do list ever since we moved into our pad in 2009, so I figured the time had come. Here is how I made our new DIY an upholstered headboard for less than $100.

DIY upholstered headboard - the sweetest digs

Here was our bedroom before, looking pretty sad. ?

After humming and hawing for way too long about what the accent colour in our gray bedroom should be, I have finally decided on yellow. Such a happy colour that pairs nicely with gray.

I knew I wanted to do a basic upholstered headboard, so I waited for a sale day at my local fabric store, and went on the hunt for some yellow fabric. Sometimes I have no luck, and then other times I hit the jackpot. This was one of those jackpot moments. I came across this pretty gray and yellow ikat fabric by Richloom. The original price tag was just over $25/meter, but sale day meant 40% off. Everything was comin’ up Gemma!

I thought I had seen the fabric somewhere before, and realized when I got home that Sherry and John posted about on Young House Love quite a while ago…

I couldn’t find the exact gray and yellow fabric on Amazon to link to here, but I found other fabrics by Richloom that are similar (I LOVE the quality of the Richloom fabric we got – heavy weight and gorgeous… highly recommended!).

Here is the orange version (Richloom Ikat Marlena Orange Home Decor Fabric):

richloom fabric - orange

Another style in gray and yellow (Richloom Kashan Lemongrass Home Decor Fabric):

richloom fabric - gray and yellow

And this other beauty in blues (Richloom Ikat Django Turquoise Home Decor Fabric):

richloom fabric - blues

While at the fabric store, I also grabbed some hypo-allergenic extra thick batting. I didn’t want to shell out for foam AND batting (some people use both for upholstery projects), so I made sure to grab the really thick double-ply stuff.

For the actual headboard, I went to Home Depot and got some 1/4 inch plywood. They are able to cut it to size in the shop, so we brought our measurements with us and walked away with a piece ready to go. Definitely do it this way – saves a lot of time and hassle. Plus, it means you don’t need any special power tools.

First step was to lay the batting out.

headboard pic 1

Then I put my sheet of plywood on top and started stapling. Make sure to check the depth of your staples before you start. You don’t want to use ones that are too deep and stick out the other side of the headboard.

headboard pic 2

Just staple your way all around the board. Super easy.

headboard pic 3

Once the batting was all secured, I laid out the fabric with the patterned side down. I gave it a quick ironing to get out any wrinkles before starting.

headboard pic 4

Now it was time to start stapling the fabric. I started off by doing the two long sides. I made sure to pull it tightly as I was going so that it wouldn’t be too loosey-goosey in the front.

headboard pic 5

The corners are the part you want to be careful with. My technique (and I’m not sure if this is the “right” way or not, but it worked) is to approach it like I was wrapping a present. I get one side stapled, and then fold it in to the un-stapled side. Then I bring that piece up and pull it really tightly and staple along the seam. It takes a bit of practice, but I would just do it a few times until I got the perfect seam and then staple ‘er down.

headboard pic 6

upholstered headboard - the sweetest digs

Here she was all stapled and ready to go.

headboard pic 8

Now came the tricky part of actually hanging it. We wanted to attach it directly to the wall rather than to our bed, so we went through a few different options. We could have hung it using heavy-duty picture hangers, but we worried about it being wobbly and un-level. So we searched around and finally came across this heavy duty E-Z Ancor french cleat. It’s 18 inch and holds up to 200 pounds. I couldn’t find the same brand on Amazon, but this OOK Hangman French Cleat is the exact same in terms of dimensions and weight as the one we used.

headboard pic 9

You attach one piece of the cleat onto the back of the headboard, and one piece onto the wall. Then you slide them in together – they have grooves that fit into each other and snap in firmly.

headboard pic 10

headboard pic 11

Level and snug on the wall, that baby isn’t going anywhere.


We’re really happy with how it turned out. The colours are just right and it’s nice to bring another textile into the room. Now I’m on the hunt for some zippy yellow throw pillows to tie it all together!



The headboard itself is really soft and a nice spot to rest your head against while reading. We couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out!

And the budget breakdown? Not crazy cheap, but considering upholstered headboards usually run a couple hundred dollars, this DIY version definitely saves a bundle of moola by coming in at under 100 bones.

  • 3 meters of fabric + batting: $70
  • plywood: $15
  • staple gun, staples: $0 already owned
  • French cleat for hanging: $13

Grand Total: $98

What about you guys? Any DIY headboards under your belt? Or any other upholstery projects? I think the best part is picking out the fabric. I’m like a kid in a candy store at the fabric shop. 

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  • Courtney

    That looks GREAT! Wonderful job – I hope you’re pleased!!!

    • gemma

      I am!! Thank you (for the nice comment and for all the support in the fabric & batting buying… thank your mama too!) :)


    • kristie

      Very beautiful job. I love love grey and yellow. Another idea, if your handy is to make your own french cleat. Heres a good link to it. cat-thesis.blogspot.com

      • gemma

        Cool! Thanks Kristie! :)


  • Me WANT! Awesome, I want that fabric. I’m a sucker for grey and pastel fabric, but I never know what to do with it. The french cleat thing is smart too, who knew!?

  • Love the fabric, great choice! Bed looks so much better!

  • Cute! It looks awesome! I’m in Ottawa too..wondering what fabric store you visited?

    • gemma

      Hi Melanie! Great to connect with fellow Ottawa folks. I always go to Fabricland (the one on Merivale). Not always amazing selection, but sometimes I get lucky. I also find the prices there a whole lot better than some of the other fabric stores in the city. I wish we had more options though!!


  • Wow, looks great!

  • Lauren M

    I love it! Way to go Gemma, you’ve got an amazing eye. And, I think you probably wrap presents better than I do.

    • gemma

      Ha ha.. not sure about that, Lauren!! :)


  • Gwendy

    It looks absolutely fabulous Gemma and I think you were modest in estimating the amount you are saving. I’m keen to do ours!

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  • nice job! i looove it!

  • What a LOVELY headboard!!!!! I love the fabric you chose too, it’s beautiful! I’ve been wanting to do this project too, I’m just a little intimidated by it! I love what you did!

    • gemma

      Thanks!! It’s so much easier than it seems… definitely give it a go! It is such a high impact project.

      Good luck :)


  • carey

    Looks great! Two questions: Is that a queen size bed? What are the dimensions on your headboard?

    Thanks, Carey

    • gemma

      Thanks Carey! The bed is actually King size, so the headboard is about 78 inches wide. I can’t remember the height, as we had sort of just eyeballed it. We didn’t want anything too tall, so kept it pretty low profile. The other nice thing is that the way we mounted it (with a french cleat bracket), meant we could adjust the placement right before mounting. So if we had made it a bit too tall, we could have just mounted it a little lower so some of it was hidden behind the bed.

      Hope that helps!


      • carey

        I appreciate your quick response. Great point about adjusting the height on it. Thanks for your help!

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  • Gemma, you did a wonderful job. What staple gun did you use?

    • gemma

      Thanks Falu! The staple gun I have is a Mastercraft (nothing fancy).


  • Lori Seifert

    Beautiful! What color paint is on the walls?

    • gemma

      Thanks Lori! It’s called Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore.


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  • Michelle

    What size would you use for a Queen?

    • gemma

      Hi Michelle – I don’t know the dimensions of a Queen bed offhand, so what you would want to do is measure the width of your bed (ie. the part that sits along the wall). Make the headboard the same width and choose the height you like (remembering that some of the headboard will be hidden behind the bed).

      Hope that helps!


  • Victoria

    Hey Gemma! I love this fabric and have been searching for it everywhere! Where can I get it? Any identification information would be awesome.


    • gemma

      Hi Victoria – unfortunately I don’t have the name for it, but I know it was by Richloom. I would google around for it. I came across it at my local Fabricland.

      Good luck!


    • Carey

      I think it may be Richloom Modesto Citrine. (Modesto being the name of the fabric and Citrine the color) hope that helps!

      • gemma

        Thanks for this, Carey!!! Glad someone out there is in the know :)


  • Hannah

    I love the project, I am updateing my bedroom on a college/part-time working budget and this is great inspiration! I was wondering where you got your bedding?

    • gemma

      Nice! The bedding is from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (about 2 years ago). Good luck! :)


  • Brittany

    Love this, I’m gathering materials to try my own. I was quoted $300-600 to have a tufted one made, and when I saw what you did for less than $100, I was sold! Can you tell me about the batting? Is it sold by yard or in a bag?

    • gemma

      It’s sold by the yard. I got mine from Fabricland (my local fabric/sewing store). They usually have different thicknesses you can choose from. Good luck! You’ll be super pleased with the result – and for a fraction of the cost!



  • michelle

    I love your headboard. Quick question, when you screwed in the french cleat to hang it, don’t those screws stick through to the front? And what size staples did you use? Thanks!

  • Kim Thomas

    Just found this Pinned on Pinterest (of course!)…great tutorial. Easy to follow instructions and great photos. I might just give this a go! Thanks for sharing!

  • Elvina

    Great job! I have the same question as Michelle from 2 years ago, about the depth of the screws and staples.