DIY Upholstered Headboard Tutorial

January always brings out a desire in me to clean, organize and refresh my house, maybe its the longing for spring. The full first week of the new year however, I caught a miserable cold, so I spent much of the week in bed. Now that I’m recovered and can think coherently I’d like to share a tutorial of refinishing my bed.

Part of this tutorial has been recreated, the bed was originally purchased 6 years ago at a consignment shop.  I don’t even have an actual before photo of what it looked like. I did however find one that was very similar.  I loved the idea of a 4 poster bed with high ceilings, so I loved the tall posts, however the colonial style was not my thing, neither was the cherry wood finish. 

I began by stripping off the old finish using a paint stripper. For the detailed areas of the posts I used a small copper brush (it looks like a toothbrush but with copper strands) to work the finish out of the carved areas. Another tool that helped remove the finish from the carved posts was using steel wool. This is very effective on rounded surfaces to remove a finish. Remember to always wear chemical gloves and protective eyewear when doing any sort of project like this. I also recommend wearing a long sleeve shirt, the chemicals in the stripper can really burn the skin.This was very tedious to do but well worth it to me. 

Once the piece was completely stripped of the old finish, I sanded it with a fine grit sandpaper I then applied 2 stains, first a merlot colored stain, followed by an ebony stain. I then sanded through the ebony stain finish in spots to reveal the merlot color underneath. This technique gave the piece a sense of depth and history. 

I then applied a protective finish. My favorite topcoat is Minwax Wipe-On Poly. I never have to worry about brush strokes (a pet peeve of mine) with this wipe-on finish because it is applied with a cloth and rubbed on.

I wanted to have an upholstered headboard, I thought about covering the existing headboard with foam, batting and fabric, but I instead created a new headboard from plywood. That would then be applied to the original headboard with screws from the back side.  To do this I first had to remove the original moulding and trim the headboard.

This part of the tutorial is a reenactment of the upholstery of the headboard. I took no original photos of this process. I recreated it with a small piece of plywood which I cut into a rectangle, It’s not the shape that I actually cut the headboard into, but I only had a small amount of fabric leftover to recreate this. I first traced the shape of my headboard onto my foam, I used a 1” thick foam for this. I wanted to have a nailhead detail trim around the headboard, so I wanted my foam to be 1” smaller around the entire headboard. I then made marks in 1” from the traced line of the headboard. I then cut out the foam using scissors, if you are working with a thicker foam I recommend cutting the foam with an electric caring knife.

Now place the foam piece on top of the wood. I used a spray adhesive to keep it positioned centered in the board.

Now a layer of batting will go over the foam and wrap around to the back of the wood. There are 3 layers now, the wood, the foam and the batting. Pull the batting taut and begin stapling the batting to the board on the back side.

I just used a hand stapler to recreate this demo project because my pneumatic one is broken. It worked great! I do however totally prefer using the pneumatic one though. I like to do the top edge first then pull the bottom edge of the batting taut and staple that edge next.

Once the batting is stapled on top and bottom, pull one of the sides taut and staple the side. Then repeat for the other side. Staple right up to the edge of each corner. It will look somewhat like this.

Then pull the corner of the batting back and staple in place like this…

Remove and excess batting with scissors.

When the headboard is flipped over and you can see through the batting that my foam is 1” smaller than the wood. This will allow for my nail heads to set properly along the edge.

Now we are ready to apply the fabric. If you have a fabric with a definite design you will want to center your design on your headboard. I placed a mark on the center of the  back of the headboard, then I knew exactly where to place my fabric. I begin stapling in the center and work my way out to each side. Sometimes it’s easier to do this with 2 sets of hands, one to pull the fabric taut while the other staples.

Staple from the center out to each side then angle staples out to the corner of the wood. This is a tip I learned in making the corners look nice and neat. Repeat until all the sides are stapled up the the corner. 

Then cut the fabric along the angled stapled area almost to the corner, leaving about 1” of fabric at the corner remaining. It should look like this …

Now pull and flatten out this corner piece and staple, it should look like this, with a nice flat corner. Repeat for all for corners.

Now it’s time to put in the nail heads, I chose large 1 1/4” nail heads.  With a pencil, mark how far apart you want to place them, I placed mine 1 1/2” center to center. I also found it helpful to hold the nail head with needle nose pliers as I tapped it with the hammer. 

Once all the nail heads were in, it was time to mount the upholstered headboard to the existing headboard. We placed the new upholstered headboard against the existing headboard and inserted screws (we used 6 screws) from the backside to hold it in place.

I love the way it turned out, it feels so luxurious to have an upholstered headboard.

If this tutorial inspires you to try this out for yourself, PLEASE SHARE & PIN IT!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design we hope to . . .

BRING YOUR HOME TO THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I love this and I love your master bedroom! The refinished bed frame is so beautiful as is the headboard.

    1. Thank you Katherine, you are so kind! We are so glad that you have found our site. We hope you will enjoy following along on our journey.

  2. Michelle, this headboard is beautiful! You amaze me. Can I ask you what hard wood floors you have in your kitchen? We’ve been looking and I can’t find what I want which is very similar to what you have. By the way I am SO excited that you and Stephanie have decided to blog. I will be following very closely as I enjoy doing these kinds of things even though I’m not so great at it.

    1. Magen you are amazing yourself! Thanks for following along! The floors are actually a laminate, believe it or not. The manufacturer is Mannington Flooring, Restoration Charcoal in Historic Oak. I do love my floors, so much easier to care for than hardwood. Stephanie also put this same flooring in her home and I copied my sister, who also has this same flooring in her home. We all love it!

      1. Thank you so much!! It’s good to know that laminate is easier to take care of. Maybe that will help convince Derrel:)

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