How to upholster a headboardMaking headboards for my girls room was the only way to go because I just couldn’t find anything that was cute and girly enough for me. I found some cute beds at Costco that I liked, but they were $399 EACH {no can do}.
So we went for it. I knew I wanted a headboard shaped like this. The shape is called “Portman”.

Items you will need for this project:
1 piece of 4’X8’ piece of 1/2” MDF {about $23.00, but you will have a lot left over}
A Jigsaw to cut the MDF {borrow one from friend. Smile}
1 piece of 4” outdoor foam from Home Depot {by far the best place to get foam} I can’t remember the price, but it seems like it’s about $16.00 for a huge piece.
An electric carving knife to cut the foam {cuts it like butter}
Canvas or Home Décor Fabric {we used 2 yards}
Cotton batting big enough to cover your foam
A staple gun {I use an electric staple gun or my air staple gun and our compressor}
An extra person to pull the fabric during the upholstering process {you cannot do it alone}
Hardware to hang the headboard. We use D-ring hooks and drywall anchors.
how to make an upholstered headboard
Step 1: Have the folks at Home Depot cut MDF as wide as the size of your bed. If you want a full size {like ours} it will need to be 54” wide. They are super nice and will do it in a jiffy. We wanted ours to be quite tall. Ours are right around 44 inches tall. The Home Depot guys will cut it to be whatever size you tell them. {Measurements for other sizes: Twin: 39 inches wide, Full/Double: 54 inches wide , Queen 60 inches wide, King 76 inches wide }
Step 2: Trace three large circles on your MDF sheet to make the shape.
We simply laid a large round toy bin on top of our MDF board and traced three circles with pencil. Then we connected the circles with a straight line.

how to make an upholstered headboard upholstered headboard plan
Step 3: Cut out the MDF with a jigsaw. If you don’t want this shape, you can just have the folks at Home Depot cut your board for you in the size you need.
how to make an upholstered headboard how to make an upholstered headboard how to make an upholstered headboard
  how to make an upholstered headboard 
Step 4: Next, lay your MDF sheet on your foam and trace it with a marker. how to make an upholstered headboard how to make an upholstered headboard 
Step 5: Cut the foam with an electric carving knife {believe me, it’s worth it}. If you don’t have one, borrow one from a neighbor. It won’t damage the knife, I promise. I speak from experience here. I’ve cut foam with a serrated knife, an olfa cutter, and sharp scissors. An electric carving knife is much easier to cut foam than any of the other options.
Sidenote: Since we made two headboards we pieced foam together for one of the headboards. We just glued it with hot glue and it worked like a charm.
how to make an upholstered headboard how to make an upholstered headboard
Step 6: a) Lay your fabric face down, b) spread out the cotton batting on top of the fabric, c) set the foam on the fabric and c) lay the MDF on top of the foam. We like to upholster inside our home so that the fabric doesn’t get dirty.
how to make an upholstered headboard how to make an upholstered headboard 
annie selke pillowannie selke fabric
Picture Source
The fabric I used for the headboards is Annie Selke fabric from the Raspberry Fields Collection. I bought it a year ago in Las Vegas at Home Fabrics and Rugs.
Step 7: Next we used the same techniques that I have explained before in my bench upholstery lesson.  But, it got tricky in the corners. It is the same concept of upholstery from that lesson.
TIPS: Just be sure that the corners of the MDF are protected so that your fabric doesn’t rip while you pull it tight. We put a small corner of extra batting to cover each sharp corner of the MDF.  When you do the inside corners, make sure that you don’t trim the fabric too much.
You need enough fabric to staple, but you have to trim the fabric some or you won’t be able to get it tight in the corners. It’s really hard to make it look perfect. We got better on the second headboard, but the first one looks pretty good on the front too. We had to crease the fabric in some of the corners, but it isn’t noticeable on the front. I’ve provided pictures below of the areas I’m talking about.
making a headboard upholstery instructions
Just remember that the front needs to be completely tight for it to look professionally upholstered. NEVER upholster something by your self. You won’t be able to pull it tight enough without a helper. You don’t want any loose spots or it will look homemade.
Step 8: Install the D-rings to the back and make sure you hang your headboard on studs or your wall has dry wall anchors.
d rings
You are done!!!

 DIY headboard instructions girls room
I am in L.O.V.E. with how my girls’ room is turning out. If you missed the makeover process, check out PART 1 and PART 2 of the process.
The headboards ended up being about $60 each, but it would differ depending on the fabric you used and the size of the headboard you made.
girls room ideas
Hope you had a great weekend!
Linked this project to: Beneath my Heart and Home Stories A to Z.
girls room1 with text girls room ideas copy


  1. says

    Holy cow, those turned out amazing!!! I've been hoping to do my own much simpler padded headboard but other less daunting crafts seem to take priority…
    Thanks for you tips, and the neat way of hanging them on the wall – I'll have to remember that!!

  2. says

    I love the way your girls' room is turning out. These headboards are beautiful. I actually made a headboard for my daughter's bed last year with the same shape and almost the exact same process, but I attached it to an Ikea bed frame and upholstered that too. So naturally, I love it :). Your fabric is more sophisticated than mine though.

  3. says

    Been wanting to do this since we purchased our king bed in January. It's currently "headless."

    I know I can do this …. just gotta find the time and the perfect fabric!

    So loveley! Thanks for the how-to and the yummy inspirations!

    (ps … why can't I post comments on Blogger using Google Chrome? Used to be able to, and now it just poofs them away! Have to do it on IE. Ugh)

  4. says

    This is amazing! I don't have little girls but I would totally do this for my own headboard! Love the paint technique, too. Can't wait to read about it!

  5. says

    I've been reading your blog for forever, but this is my first comment. I only look at 3 different people's blogs other than friends and family. So you can tell that I really love yours! My little girl saw the pictures and said, 'that's how my new room is going to look!' It's a beautiful room, we will be taking lots of ideas when I do my girls!

  6. Brooke @ says

    It is a pretty inexpensive way to get an expensive look in my opinion. A new headboard could change the look of your entire room!

  7. Brooke @ says

    BETH! Thank you!! I love that you just told me that! I searched for it, but I never found it.

  8. christy says

    I love this. I have been wanting to make an upholstered headboard for my daughter's room for awhile now. This gives me just the motivation to get it done. Awesome. Thanks again! By the way, I LOVE the way your daughters' room is turning out. Looks fantastic. Super cute.

  9. Klockarbarn says

    Fantastic. I really need to do something for my girls too. They share room and I´m afraid I have ignored the room for to long now.

  10. Ashley J says

    Stalker-esque comment:
    Looove! I want to make manly ones for my older boys' room. They have Ikea Odda beds (to eliminate the need for a dresser), but they're so fugly. Ok, not fugly per say, maybe just bland. I'm so bored with their room right now.

  11. The Yoder's Four says

    So so cute!! Amen about the price of beds. I have literally been shopping around for the perfect one for about 3-4 years for Madelyn but could never afford one, and then the hubs built a loft bed for her out of 2x4s for about 1/4 of the price! Thank goodness for handy husbands!!

  12. Jonelle says

    The foam you used for this. Do you by any chance have a link to it or a picture of the packaging? Or just any details so I can find it in the store near me, like the aisle its found in? I'm making a large ottoman and this would be perfect.


  13. says

    Definitely going to try this, thank you for sharing! My boyfriend and I moved in together three months ago and I've been trying to make what little furniture we have work (we still have just two stacked mattresses as a bed). I'm also taking your tips on painting furniture to give some life to all the old furniture our families donated to the cause. :)

    • Terry says

      Excellent directions and pictures! I have been wanting to do this for ages and you provide the best way. The foam is not to be found at my Home Depot. How much did you spend on it? I am looking at Joann and DIY and it looks like $100ish.

      • Brooke says

        The foam is an outdoor twin{ish} sized camping pad from Home Depot. It’s only $17.00 so, I would suggest looking really hard at Home Depot before you buy foam elsewhere. It’s way too expensive at Joanns. If your Home Depot really doesn’t carry it, I would stack several egg-crate foams from Wal-Mart to create the thickness that you need.

  14. Miss LindaLee says

    You're so very talented young lady. I'm stalling about recovering a foot rest and you think nothing of jumping into new headboards! Way to go and I love the finished pieces. Fabric and shape. Excellent! I love stopping in here.

    LindaLee from Cross’N My Stitches

  15. says

    Thanks for the tutorial. I LOVE the contrast between the headboards and the newly painted pattern on the walls! Your children are so lucky to have such a talented mom.

  16. says

    I'm so happy you posted how to do this! i've been waiting for it since the first room photos were posted. I have been considering headboard options for a while now and dont particularly love any of the ones i was considering myself capable of. I did not think i would be able to pull this shape off but now that you've shown us how easy it is we're going to give it a go for sure! Thanks Brooke!

  17. says

    I couldn’t find the foam at Home Depot either but I am in Canada. I ended up spending big bucks on foam at Fabricland. We are having the most trouble with the corners right now and my husband cut the fabric and ended up messing it up royally and we had to pull out all the staples and start again. UGH. How do you make it look so easy?

  18. Amanda Evelyn says

    These look amazing! I’ve looked all over and you explain things much easier than everywhere else! I’m trying to make two for my nieces room. Does this supplies list equal two headboards or just one? And also, is this easy for a beginner? This will be my first time tackling something like this :)

    • Brooke says

      The supplies are for only one full sized headboard. For a two twin sized headboards, you could fit them both on one 4 by 8 foot sheet of MDF. Yes, it’s pretty easy for a beginner, just go slow and don’t cut your fabric too short on the corners.

  19. Aimee says

    I love this and can’t wait to do it! One question….Do I have to attach it to the wall or can I just make it tall enough to fit behind the bed and rest on the floor???

    • Brooke says

      You could do it either way. If your kids are little climbing monkeys you may want to attach it at the top anyway. Good luck!

  20. Janine says

    Did you really use 4″ thick foam? I was looking at different foam and 4″ thick seems really, really thick. I was thinking of using 2″ thick. Any thoughts or comments? Also, you said you used cotton batting…what about polyester batting? I’m going to do a version of this for my daughter and am going to try and attach it to her bed…knowing her, she’ll want to move her room around and I’ll have nail holes all over! Thank you again! (I think I’m going to use a second set of her sheets for the material – should be super-cute!)

    • Brooke says

      Hi Janine,
      I went to Home Depot and looked at the foam again, and it is 3 inches thick not 4. So, really you can use whatever thickness you want. Honestly, it will look cute either way!

      Yes, polyester batting would totally work too.

      My only concern is that using the sheets may be hard to pull tight enough especially on the corners. If it’s cotton-type fabric, then it may be too thin to pull around the corners. Just be careful when you pull. Good luck on your project! Report back with pictures!

  21. Brooke B says

    I was just wondering how much fabric would you think you should use for a full bed 54″ wide…I’ve never done ANYTHING with fabric so this is all new to me but thankfully I’m going to have some helpers. But, I am totally lost on how much fabric to get…1 yard, maybe 2?

  22. roberta says

    I am in the middle of purchasing all my supplies and found it difficult to locate the foam – I found it at Canadian Tire – $13.99 4″ thick Camping Pad.

    • Naomi says

      Just found it on their website, but the cost for 4inch foam is now $65.99. However, that is still much cheaper than most other places. Thanks for the idea. Hoping to find it at Home Depot, though can’t find it on their website.

      • Brooke says

        I just bought some at Home Depot last week, so hopefully you have one in your area. It is much much cheaper there than anywhere else.

  23. Kay says

    I am having a hard time finding 4″ foam. I don’t see it listed on Home Depot’s website or Lowe’s. The cheapest I have found is listed at $90. $16 sounds so much better- don’t want this project to get too expensive. Would you let me know when you found the foam.

  24. says

    My mother made a tufted upholstered velvet headboard back in the 1960s, which showed me firsthand what a creative, determined woman can accomplish and led me to become the creative, determined woman I am. So not only have you made your girls’ room super-cute, you’ve also given them a valuable lesson (those lucky girls!).

    For your readers on a tight budget (or lacking tools), you can use just scissors and duct tape to make a padded, upholstered headboard from cardboard (appliance box size), an old blanket or comforter, and an old sheet. It won’t be as sturdy but the one I threw together looked great and lasted several years.

  25. Rachel says

    Hello Brooke!

    I was just wondering if you reccomend using the 100% polypropylene fabric rug? Or if any rug fabric would do?

    Thank you!

    • Brooke says

      Any thinner rug would totally work. But just make sure that the rug will wrap around the back for you to staple it. I would also make sure it isn’t scratchy. No one wants to sit back on a bed that feels like sandpaper.

  26. says

    I love this. I have been wanting to make an upholstered headboard for my daughter’s room for awhile now. This gives me just the motivation to get it done.Thanks for sharing. Super beautiful and cute.


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