A DIY Headboard to Rule Them All

I’m back! And in full force with another bedroom project. No, not another not-really-a-headboard headboard. This is the real deal, folks. A DIY upholstered nailhead trim headboard.

Now, let me be frank. I am THRILLED with how this headboard turned out. But I can tell you one thing that the 87 million blog posts I read about upholstering a headboard did not: this is not a DIY for the faint of heart. This is the kind of project that requires 8 hands and 2 days. So boy am I glad that we saved this for our visit with Marmie and Pops.

Since there are indeed 87 million blogs that show you how to upholster a headboard, I won’t give you every detail here. But I hope a few of these images will help you navigate the world of headboard upholstery. And then you can thank Marmie and Pops for anything you learn. Because this story would not have had such a happy ending if it weren’t for them.

So. We started by taping the wall behind our bed. Even played around with a few different shapes. We decided we liked a basic rectangle shape best. I read that a headboard should be about 8 inches above the top of your pillows. Turned out that was a good rule of thumb, and we lowered the tape which we thought was too high.

We returned from Home Depot and JoAnn with all the supplies we needed and the boys got to work building the basic frame. (1/4″ plywood and 1×2″s)

Now here’s the part where you can thank Pops. He came up with a genius way to hang this thing. See that additional 1×2″ board there? He put some screws into the top of it. Then in the top of the frame, he drilled holes large enough so the heads of the screws would fit in like pegs.

Then they hung the board on the wall using drywall screws. So when the headboard was finished, we could line up the screws with the holes in the frame, and tap it in. Worked like a charm. And probably a bit sturdier than using some heavy duty picture hangers, although that would work too.

But back to the upholstery. We started by gluing a thin layer of foam onto the plywood.

Then glued a thin layer of batting over the foam, leaving enough hanging off the edges so we could staple it tightly around the whole board. Here you see the batting stapled, with our fabric ready to go underneath.

To staple the fabric, start in the top middle, move to the bottom middle, then work your way out toward the sides. This will help you keep the fabric grain taut and straight. Don’t be afraid to pull the fabric. It needs to be tight! Just keep an eye on that grain. (This is where the 8 hands all become useful at the same time.)

Mom went around and cut out all of the extra bulky fabric and batting.

And then we had a finished board! This is a great time to hang up your staple gun and call it a night. I’d recommend some flatbread pizza followed by Premium Rush.

Day 2: Now here’s where it starts to get a little hairy. Nailhead trim, even the kind on a roll that we used, requires some patience and a lot of hands. Hands that are not afraid of being pounded by a rubber mallet.

Slow and steady definitely wins this race. Check, double check, triple check that each nailhead is straight from every possible angle. Otherwise you’ll end up with a wonky mess. But like I said, a few pairs of hands and eyes, and a husband with really good mallet aim, will get you far.

We went around the three sides that would show behind our bed, and then put it immediately on the wall. Voila! We can lean against it and it doesn’t budge. And see how the antique brass nailheads echo the lamp and nightstand hardware? That’s nice too. I can’t help but stop and stare at it every time I walk by our room!

Now that you’ve gotten a sneak peak at our bedroom…be sure to stay tuned for the full reveal coming soon. This sucker has undergone a before-and-after transformation like you’ve never seen. And I have some special people to thank for it. I’m probably jumping the gun by showing you this much, but I couldn’t wait!