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DIY Upholstered tufted headboard


I’m here today to talk about a long overdue project I completed over the weekend: a headboard for our bed!

I took my time figuring out exactly what I wanted for this one (over a year, to be exact), and I think it’s a perfect fit for our room.

I found a handful of tutorials such as this, this, this, and this, began to gather my supplies.

First thing to get was a large piece of MDF from Lowe’s (around $20, they cut it to size for me). We have a King size bed, so the measurements were around 78×35 for ours (I actually could have made it a few inches narrower though)

Next, I stopped by Walmart to pick up a few foam mattress toppers (the tutorials said it was much cheaper than 2″ or 3″ foam, and worked just as well). I wanted it extra thick, so I grabbed three for $10 each, and then headed to the fabric section just for kicks.

And then, I saw it:

It was beyond perfect. Not only was it $2.50/yard, it was the perfect mix of grey and tan and woven texturedness I had dreamed of. I knew I wanted something natural and woven, and not the typical orangey-yellow burlap, but more of a soft gray. I seriously lucked out with this one.

And look, it matches our couch!

I bought 2.5 yards, along with a roll of batting and the three mattress covers. The total came to around $50, but luckily I still have some Christmas gift cards leftover… so my total: free.

Next I headed to Joann’s and picked up the rest of my supplies:

A button cover kit, decorators needle and upholstery thread. It was around $13 (after a coupon) for these.

Once home, I laid out my fabric and ironed it out as best as I could (this is an important step that people tend to forget):

Once it was nice and smooth, I began drawing my template for the headboard shape. I used a large piece of cardboard, measured to the center of my headboard, and made the cardboard exactly half the width it. I then freehanded the curved shape I wanted:

Once I was happy with it, I used an Xacto knife and traced over the line, then traced the shape onto my board:

Then I lined it back up to the middle, flipped it over, and repeated:

The next morning I woke up to find Brad in the garage, cutting the shape with our wireless jigsaw.

Unfortunately, wireless power tools are worthless, and it only got this far before the battery died:

So he borrowed our neighbor’s jigsaw to finish the job.

Ta-da!

The edges weren’t perfect…. which isn’t a huge deal, but I took my hand sander out and smoothed out a couple small areas just to be safe.

Next it was time to measure for the buttons. I decided to go with two rows: 3 on top, 4 on the bottom, in an alternating pattern.

I already had my center line marked out, so it was an easy process from there. I placed them 15″ apart from each other, made my marks, and drilled holes all the way through.

Here’s a visual of the intended placement:

Next came the hardest part of this entire project… trying to ar
range the foam and cut them all perfectly to size.

But there was a problem.

I didn’t pay attention to the length when I bought them… oops.

So I had to revert to plan B: using just two layers, and cutting a small section to fill in the gap from the third.

Luckily, the width was the exact height of the headboard… I lucked out here.

The problem with these things though is that they are flimsy, don’t lie completely flat, and the factory edges are not straight at all. Also, I don’t think I had the right tools to cut these… I was using a steak knife.

Here is a tip: apply pressure to the foam when you are cutting. The flatter and more condensed it is, the easier it will be to slice through.

After a good 30 minutes though, I finally had everything as smooth as I could get it, and it was time to wrap it all up with batting.

I lined everything back up as best as I could, set the batting down, trimmed the excess off around the edges, and stapled it up.

And it was starting to come together!

I repeated the batting process with the fabric, and then it was ready for tufting:

I went inside to figure out this button covering process, which was actually really simple…

After all 7 were completed, I headed back into the garage and got to work. I don’t have any in-progress shots of this because Brad wasn’t home, but here is the basic process: thread the needle, attach a washer to the end, push it through the hole and through the button, come back through the same hole, pull it tight, use a staple gun to hold the thread down, and wrap back around through the washer and around the staple to secure. After breaking the threads a couple times from pulling too hard, I double threaded my needle (so there was 4 strands). Make sure to push the needle through as straight as possible, so your buttons stay level.

Finally, I attached a french cleat (my favorite method of hanging large objects… super easy!)

I measured and attached the other half to the wall:

And we had ourselves a headboard!

After this pic was taken, we ended up spraying some of the areas down with wrinkle releaser, which smoothed everything out perfectly.

And now, for the first time ever, this bedroom has a headboard!

Now for the cost breakdown (these are rough estimates, since I suck at keeping receipts)

MDF board – $20
Fabric, batting, foam: $55
Buttons – $13
total: $88
-$55 gift card: $33

$33 for an upholstered tufted King size headboard… I’ll take it!

Now, I was also planning on hanging some artwork to complete this bed wall project. Remember the mockup I drew last week?

Well, I changed my mind. The headboard is actually a bit more massive than this picture, and the frames would almost touch the ceiling. I think it would just be too much, and I need something a bit more delicate to fill the space.

After much deliberation, I decided a nice simple piece of driftwood would be the perfect touch… a la Holly of Life in the Fun Lane:

I hear these things are plentiful at our beaches… now I just have to go find one!

And lastly… I present to you, our next project:

Meet our sunroom. We haven’t done a single thing to it since we signed the papers on this house… except throw all of our unused furniture and a cat in there. It’s currently being used as my photo studio, the cat’s litterbox/playground, a storage facility for my surplus shipping materials, and a passthrough to the backyard.

It needs some serious help.

Remember how we road tripped to Ikea last weekend to get frames?

We didn’t get just frames.

I came up with this brilliant seating configuration for this room that would not only allow for plenty of seating, but it would create room for four guests to sleep.

We bought two of these Brimnes Daybeds, which I’ll arrange into an L shape:

And turn into beds when guests come:

The Ikea delivery truck is scheduled to arrive one week from tomorrow, so we’ll be anxious to get these set up.

We also decided on a new flooring solution because that carpet had to go.

In my beach house dream I’d have white plank wood floors, but because of the humidity and temperature changes in the room, hardwood was not an option.

What’s the next best thing? Tile that looks like wood!

We stopped by the tile shop and I pretty much knew immediately that this was “the one” when I saw it:

It’s a soft warm grey-ish porcelain tile with a slight texture to it. I love it.
Here it is in front of another wide plank tile I was looking at:
Here’s a shot of it installed:

I think this picture lies though, because the tile is not that gray. It actually has a lot of warm beige tones mixed in, but we’ll see. I think it will look amazing either way.

We would need around 190 square feet, and the total (after our 50% discount for using their installer) comes to $756. We were quoted another $400 or so for installation, plus grout. That means it will be around $1200, but worth it I think. This poor room deserves it for looking this pitiful for so long.

Whew, ok, I think that wraps it up for this week. We’re both excited to start this new sunroom project, and there’s a ton of work to be done… so stay tuned!


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89 thoughts on “DIY Upholstered tufted headboard

  1. Wow! The headboard looks amazing. Great job. It really makes the bed look so much cozier and it'll look great with the driftwood too.

  2. That headboard turned out great! It looks so comfy and inviting. I'm excited to see how your tile turns out. I haven't ever seen a grayed wood look like that but I think that is a perfect application for it.

  3. that headboard is gorgeous!! can't wait to see what you do in the sunroom – it looks like a great room to work with, with lots of light.

  4. BRAVO!! I am hanging my head in shame at the fact that I spent close to $1,000 for an upholstered headboard (and base) from Pottery Barn and you did it yourself for THIRTY THREE DOLLARS???!!!?? Amazing. Job well done.

  5. Awesome job it looks great! I'm starting to make a headboard myself! I was wondering if the mattress topper created ripples in the fabric from the zigzag design? It looks great in the pictures, I don't see ripples, just wondering if you had to do something to combat that. Thanks! 🙂

  6. Your headboard turned out awesome. I LOVE the fabric you chose. Excellent choice on the wood look tile. I have been drooling over some in a mahogany color for a while now. Can't wait to see how your sunroom project comes out.

  7. Wow! I LOVE your site! I actually found it because I discovered your font (which I really like) thats on dafont.com and decided to check out your blog. When I looked through your house tour I realized I have like a ton of your photos pinned! I love your front entry way and the board and batten and your kitchen and your bathroom. I also have been wanting to do my own tuffed headboard so this will def get pinned too!

  8. What is the name of the beds you used in your sunroom. I know they are from IKEA but I am very interested and am unable to find them in all white on the website. Help please! You have inspired me on how to do my sunroom!

  9. I have everything to make the headboard but the MDF. How did you get the board home? I do not have a truck—but a Honda CRV. I haul a lot in it but not a 4 x 8 sheet of anything.

  10. I'm also wondering which bed that is from Ikea–it is exactly what I need. Any help would be appreciated.

  11. Thanks so much. I was doing searches for twin size and it never came up and I now see that's because it is listed under daybeds! I prefer this one to all the other one's I found at the same price point. I'm so glad I happened upon your site in one of my other searches for diy headboards.:) One last question: I can change the pulls on the drawers, right?

  12. I just double checked, and the pulls have a screw on each end instead of just one in the center, which may make it difficult to find a replacement handle :

  13. I was wondering where you bought your nightstands ! I've been looking everywhere for some just like yours!

  14. You did a phenomenal job! Thank you so much for documenting this so well. That is exactly the type of headboard that I am saving up my money to buy, but now you have inspired me that I could really make it myself.

  15. Good job! Off topic, what color and brand of paint do you have on your walls? I love the 'simplicity' of your room, the colors, decorations, so peaceful and beautiful. I am trying to figure out what to do with some of the walls in my bedroom and I really like the empty frame you've got on yours.
    Thanks!

  16. Been dreaming about this DIY headboard since your post last March and I finally got all the supplies to do it today 🙂 I know the height from the lowest to highest point is 35″ but would you mind telling me how high it is on the sides? We also have a king size bed and I love the shape of yours – going to try to make as close to the same size as possible. Thanks so much 🙂

  17. I'll soon be doing a headboard…just trying to decide on the right fabric. I was going to throw away old mattress covers, but washed and kept to use as batting. Why don't you do the tile project yourself? Lots of do-it-yourself info. online and most tile stores have classes. Hubby did ours and is very nice.

  18. I just made one myself – I actually used egg crate foam mattress toppers…just turned the egg-y part towards the wood so the whole thing wasn't bumpy. Probably no cost savings there except for the fact that I had an extra one lying around so it was free for me 🙂

    Other than that, turned out great! Super easy! 🙂

    PS: Also..I found this exact same fabric in my walmart…also for $2.50 a yard. Worth checking out if you like this fabric!

  19. Just found your blog…..just googled upholstered headboard DIY and yours popped up! Brilliant idea to use the washers when doing the button tufting! Thanks!! We're right in the middle of building our bed and your tutorial is great! Thanks!!

  20. Thank you so much for including installation! I've literally found a dozen tutorials for an upholstered head board and NONE of them had anything about installation. Frustrating! I love the fabric you found too!

  21. I just finished making two headboards based on your instructions including installation.
    Thank you so much for posting instructions or I wouldn't of known where to start in terms of materials. One of the headboards was for my daughter and it was massive….. we ended up using a tube to run the needle straight thru the 4″ padding that she wanted.

    Just wanted to say THANKS!

    Cheryl

  22. Hi Did you apply any glue (what kind?) to adhere the foam mattress toppers to the MDF or in between the layers of foam?

  23. This is exactly what we want for our bedroom!! I bought all of the supplies yesterday but forgot the mattress pads, will be heading out soon so I can get started on my first big DIY project! Great instructions too. I am going to try it with a grey/brown vinyl fabric…hope it looks half as good as yours! Thanks for the blog!

  24. Your headboard came out fabulous! Thank you so mipuch for the detailed tutorial. I had made one a few years back out of plywood and it was so heavy! I think the MDF is a better option! May make another…you've inspired me!

  25. Your headboard is fabulous! I made one years ago using plywood as a base. I like your idea of MDF…more lightweight (and less expensive)! I may make another…you've inspired me! 🙂

  26. Thank you so much for posting. I have been looking for something like this. How many yards of fabric did you use?

  27. The headboard is beautiful, I have had iron headboard that I'd love to convert to a covered headboard (new look after 6 years), any suggestions?

  28. Thanks for posting this. My husband and I made our headboard last night and it turned out great! I never would have thought about ironing the fabric till it was all done and looked like crap though 🙂 So thanks!

  29. Hey Jenna, did you think about attaching it to the actual frame instead of mounting it on the wall? Would you have any suggestions on doing this?

  30. Hey Marta! We just have a metal frame that sits on wheels, so I'm not sure how we could have done that. I've seen people attach a 1×4 to both sides behind the headboard and just prop it up on the ground. I'd probably try that first if I didn't want to make any holes in the wall. But honestly, I think the french cleat is the easiest/simplest way to go!

  31. I've decided to use your tufting tutorial for an coffee table/ottoman I'm building 🙂 The lady at JoAnn's said for sturdiness (looks like you had some thread breakage, too!), I should use a wire instead of thread (like the floral arrangement wire). Thanks for the washer idea, I was going to drill 2 holes next to each other to thread through, but it sounds like it'd be easier with the washer!

  32. Also, the woman at Joann suggested using waxed dental floss in place of thread. It won't break as easily, and when you pull it through, the wax heats up a bit and sort of seals things. She also recommended using a button with holes instead of a washer. I'm making mine tomorrow. We'll see how it turns out! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Brianne

  33. If it's just wrinkled (and not excess fabric) you could try lightly ironing it or using your iron's steam setting. Mine wasn't completely smooth around the buttons and I just sprayed a bit of wrinkle releaser on it and they lifted right up. Hope this helps!

  34. Next time you need to cut foam get the object up off the floor, turn it foam side down and follow the edge of the wood with an electric knife. Works like a charm!

  35. Hi… I am also planning to make a headboard and bought some mdf but there is a strong smell coming out from it. Do you think it is safe? I read somewhere that it can cause health problems… I am thinking of changing it to plywood.

  36. Thank you for this. My husband and I made one this weekend and it turned out fantastic! Great instructions!

  37. It is taking me forever to get the template to look right. Do you have any tips? Also, someone mentioned in an earlier post about the strong smell from the MDF board. I did a little research too and I am going for a different material because of the off gassing of ammonia that which supposed to be hazardous. There is a product called safe seal that is recommended to seal it if you are going to use the MDF board. I love this headboard! If I can only get past the template! Please help 🙂

  38. I do have a specific question that might help me figure out the template. We start off with 35 inches on the side but what was you finished length after you made your final cuts? I feel like my template is cutting off too much on the edges. Thanks again. I can't wait to get it finished and put it up!

  39. I don't remember exactly but there's no exact formula you need to follow, it's whatever you like! Just from looking at the photos it seems like somewhere around 12-15″ from the top is in the ballpark.

    I never noticed the MDF smell so I'm not really sure about that, maybe we got a different type/brand of MDF?

  40. Hi, I just discovered your tutorial via a google search. I do have a question that is completely unrelated to headboards. Where did you find the rug in your bedroom? Also, is it scratchy at all? We are working on redoing our bedroom and this tutorial was very inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  41. Hi Kate—it's the Ikea Tarnby rug. It's a natural fiber jute rug so it's not exactly soft. For the price I would recommend one of the natural fiber rugs at Rugs USA instead. More sizes and a better deal IMO!

  42. I completely agree with you. I really like this article. It contains a lot of useful information. I can set up my new idea from this post. It gives in depth information

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