Upholstered DIY headboard

Upholstered DIY headboard {Heather's Handmade Life}

If there’s one thing you should know about upholstery foam, it’s this — it’s crazy expensive. Like, honestly, it’s so much more expensive than you think.

I’d been wanting to make an upholstered headboard for years now, but every bed in our house had a headboard that was worth keeping. So when my sister moved into her new apartment in September, I pounced at the chance to make her something special.

I mean, her room needed it!

It’s quite fun to do a project on someone else’s dime, especially when the upholstery foam alone costs more than you’d spend on two restaurant dinners for your family of four.

We decided to make an extra-tall, super-plush headboard covered in textured charcoal grey fabric.

Once we’d picked up the supplies …

  • $30 on fabric
  • $50 on wood
  • A staggering $90 on five 24×24 pieces of three-inch foam

… Michael got to work building a simple frame. He constructed a plywood back that measured 52” wide and 48” high …

… and then added removable 2×4 legs to make the finished headboard 60” tall.

When it was time to attach the squares of foam, I realized it would have been a good idea to make the headboard exactly the size of four squares.

Alas, we did not do that. Oh well.

I used a serrated bread knife to slice the fifth piece into slivers for the gaps. We secured the foam with a bit of contact cement so nothing shifted when we put on the fabric.

(Confession time: We actually had to purchase a second piece of fabric because the first piece wasn’t quite wide enough to wrap around the massive squares of foam. There may or may not have been a tired late-night adult tantrum.)

Upholstering a giant headboard is really no harder than tackling a little project, like a bench, except that it’s heavier and more awkward and … generally much more difficult.

We wrapped the fabric tightly around the foam and secured each side with a few staples, and then worked our way around the edges pulling and stapling until it was perfect.

Always save the edges for the very end, so you can give one final tug and fold the fabric neatly around the corners like you’re wrapping a present. You’ll want one person to hold the fabric tightly in place while the second person staples the heck out of it.

(Oh, and did I mention the first person should also cry out “Don’t staple my fingers!” every few minutes?)

Once the back of the headboard was upholstered, we loaded it — and the two legs — into the van and I drove it off to my sister’s new apartment. After wrestling it all up two flights of stairs, we bolted the legs onto the back of the headboard and stood it up.

Since she’s a renter, we decided to play it safe by stapling bits of cut-up cloth over the bolts in case they scratched up the wall. 

Then I shooed my sister out of her bedroom so I could set everything up. She’d bought new bedding to go with her new headboard, and I’d sewn her some matching throw pillows and curtains.

It was so much fun to transform her dark and dreary room (she had a BEDSHEET pinned up as a curtain) into a grown-up space fitting of a young professional. 

Quite the Before + After, right?!

While I was there, I helped her hide an ugly electrical panel in her living room …


… with a gallery wall (including an abstract painting I did).


I also brightened up the couch with more throw pillows, and hung up the living room curtains I’d sewn. All together, we (well, she) spent just under $250 to dramatically change the two main areas of her apartment. 

I got to spend a fun night with my sister, and and now I have a beautifully-decorated pied-à-terre in downtown Halifax for when I need a night away from the kids.

I wonder if she’ll let me tackle the kitchen next ..

Extra-tall upholstered DIY headboard {Heather's Handmade Life}
Extra-tall upholstered DIY headboard {Heather’s Handmade Life}

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